Holding students to a higher standard: New norms in diocese point us to the cross Print
Our Catholic Schools
Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013 -- 12:00 AM

Our Catholic Schools, by Michael Lancaster

We have all heard much in the media about the importance of our schools, and the importance of holding our students to high expectations and academic standards.

“Catholic Schools Raise the Standards,” the theme for Catholic Schools Week, echoes the popular news but reflects something which Catholic schools have been doing since St. Elizabeth Ann Seton opened St. Joseph Catholic School in 1810.

The school educated girls who, at that time, had significantly fewer educational opportunities than boys, and provided them with a solid academic foundation as well as skills necessary to make a living. Most importantly however, the Catholic school provided its students with a firm education in the Catholic faith. This ensured that students not only received a practical education, but that they learned to model their lives on Gospel values — the standards given to us by Christ himself.

Catholic schools have long held students to higher academic standards, striving to develop the talents and potential of every student to their fullest, and holding high expectations for all students. This year Catholic schools in the Diocese of Madison are in the process of implementing new academic standards in the areas of language, math, science, social studies, and technology.

These standards align with and exceed the national “common core” standards that have been adopted by the state of Wisconsin. They will help ensure that our students receive an outstanding academic education, perform at consistently high levels as evidenced on national tests, and are prepared to excel at the next level of education.

While the academic success of our students is well documented, the purpose of Catholic schools goes far beyond that of educating students to be active, contributing members of society.

We educate students not only to contribute to society, but to transform it through lives of service lived in accordance with the Gospel message. In order to do this successfully, each and every student in a Catholic school must know and love Christ and the truth that He proclaims.

This makes the new catechetical standards that were introduced this fall and are being implemented during this Year of Faith, the most important standards of all. They are the standards on which all others rest. For more information on the new catechetical standards, visit www.madisondiocese.org

While the academic standards ensure that we prepare students for success in this world, the catechetical standards ensure that we remain faithful to our mission of preparing students to transform this world by building the kingdom of God, serving others, and living lives that are holy that we may seek heaven and eternal life with Christ.

As the logo for Catholic Schools Week reminds us, the highest standard is that of the cross.

Michael Lancaster is superintendent of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Madison.