Catholic schools show ‘phenomenal’ scores for religious education test

Catholic school students fill the Owensboro Sportscenter while attending the Sept. 28, 2017 “Rainbow Mass,” named for all of the different colors of school uniforms resembling the rainbow and serving as a reminder of God’s everlasting covenant. WKC FILE PHOTO


A new report indicates that the Diocese of Owensboro’s 17 Catholic schools have exceeded national averages in teaching the Catholic faith.

The Diocese of Owensboro’s Office of Catholic Schools recently announced that they had received the 2018-2019 report from the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) surveying the diocese’s students in 5th grade, 8th grade and 11th grade.  

This test, known as the ACRE (Assessment of Catechesis Religious Education), revealed “phenomenal” scores, according to Ann Flaherty, superintendent of the Diocese of Owensboro’s Catholic schools.

“I want to thank our religion teachers for all of their hard work,” said Flaherty. “If anyone doubts the efficacy of our diocesan Catholic schools in teaching the faith, whether the students are Catholic or non-Catholic, they need to look no further than the 2018-19 ACRE report!”

She told the WKC that the ACRE is not required in Catholic schools in the United States, but that approximately 125,000 students across the country have taken the assessment.

The ACRE is also not solely for use in schools: parish religious education programs may also give the assessment to their students.

“Currently, it is the only tool that provides national scores for comparison and processes for tracking religious education program data over time,” said Flaherty. 

She was happy to see that the 2018-2019 ACRE scores within the diocesan schools exceeded the parish national average, the school national average, and also the national average – “the average cognitive score of all students in that level (who) took the assessment at both parishes and schools.”

Flaherty explained that the ACRE is a religious education assessment tool provided by the NCEA in order to assess students’ religious knowledge (or “head” knowledge) and their faith practices (or “heart and hands knowledge”).

She said the ACRE is given to students in grades 5, 8 and 11, and studies six “domains” – Knowledge of the Faith, Liturgical Life, Moral Formation, Prayer, Communal Life and Missionary Spirit.

It also surveys students’ understanding of the “four pillars” of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: The Profession of Faith, The Celebration of the Christian Mystery, Life in Christ and Christian Prayer.

Flaherty said they found that more than 90 percent of the 5th, 8th and 11th graders “attend Mass regularly,” and that more than 96 percent of 5th and 8th graders “like their parish.”

Additionally, more than 93 percent of the 5th, 8th and 11th graders answered “that their pastor really cares about them” and more than 94 percent of the 5th, 8th and 11th graders answered that “the school/parish religion program helps them to grow in their faith.”

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