"St. Mary’s School is an extension of the family, and is a faith-filled, nurturing atmosphere .” This is a quote from the report the visiting team submitted to the Texas Catholic Conference Education Department (TCCED).
St. Mary’s completed an important step in the accreditation process in early October 2015. Four educators, appointed by the TCCED, spent four days visiting the St. Mary’s campus. The team reviewed all curriculum documents, personnel folders, and student records. The team also observed classes and procedures throughout the school days. The team conducted interviews with students, parents, teachers, administrators, and council members and PTC officers. The team also inspected facilities and reviewed budget documents.
The 268 Catholic schools in Texas serve about 80,000 students. Each of those schools is accredited by the Texas Catholic Conference Education Department (TCCED). TCCED establishes minimum standards for the schools; the agency insures that schools are meeting the standards by a system of self-studies and school visits. Every seven years, each school conducts a comprehensive, year-long self-study by following a guide established by the agency. This is followed with a site visit by a team of educators appointed by TCCED. The visiting team submits a report to the TCCED Accreditation Commission; the Commission then will issue a final ruling of a school’s accreditation status when it convenes in early December. The Texas Education Agency recognizes the accreditation by the Texas Catholic Conference.
The visiting team report for St. Mary’s included 19 Exemplary ratings that can be given only when “extensive, highly effective practices are present and clearly visible to the team.” The report also included 14 Outstanding ratings that indicate “successful and highly effective education is occurring.” Additionally, 15 Effective ratings were given for “meets the standard but does not go beyond expectations.” The school did not receive any Needs Improvement or Absent ratings in the report.
Other random quotes from the report include: “There is a clear connection between the school and parish as evidenced by the priests’ presence in the classrooms and with the students. There is an active partnership between the parents and the school. Parent involvement is exceptionally good. St. Mary’s staff and students live the mission statement. The school has a governing body in place; its jurisdiction and function are clearly defined. Evidence of service projects were observed throughout the school. The Catholic identity permeates both the taught and untaught curriculum as witnessed by the team. Lesson plans with goals and objectives are written and followed. Student liturgies are geared toward the children with uplifting, engaging homilies, and student participation. A variety of manipulatives and materials are available and utilized. St. Mary’s School facilities provide adequate space. The new gym, parish hall, and playground facilities are modern and excellent; built with a future vision.”
Areas to develop and improve include: a more systematic professional development, a comprehensive plan for facility improvement, continued work to achieve parental compliance with traffic safety procedures, the employment of a counselor, a more detailed program for differentiated instruction.
St. Mary’s is scheduled for another TCCED visit in the fall of 2022.
written by Principal Billy Pahl