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Curriculum and assessment in Catholic schools

What makes Catholic schools different from public schools?
Catholic schools are unique because Catholic content, culture, and worldview is a way of life in our schools. Every day is designed to be an encounter with Christ. Every day includes prayer. Every day learning is connected to our role as faithful followers of Christ. Every day our students are learning how to live their faith and how to treat others with love, dignity, and respect. Whereas public schools have behavioral programs, discipline in Catholic schools is unabashedly rooted in our Catholic faith and in an encounter with Christ, as the root of the word discipline is “disciple”. Students that have been taught in school to, “Pick up your cross and follow me” (Mt 16: 24) and “my grace is sufficient for you” (2 Cor 12: 9) by the one whom they have encountered personally, namely Jesus Christ, have good reason to persevere in school and the supernatural grace that is necessary to succeed not only in the classroom, but in the tests of life.
Catholic identity and culture
The mission and identity of Catholic schools is at the heart of the mission of the Catholic Church. Jesus himself commissioned the disciples to, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28: 19-20a). Catholic schools are a primary means by which the Church passes on the Faith from one generation to the next. Therefore, all curriculum and instruction, regardless of the discipline, is illuminated by the teachings of Jesus Christ as taught by the Catholic Church in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Catholic education addresses the whole person - body, mind, and spirit. As such our culture nurtures these foundational principles:
  • All people are created in the image and likeness of God
  • God has a plan for each of us
  • God has gifted each us for a purpose greater than ourselves
  • God wants us to develop and use our talents as good stewards of His gifts
  • We value and partner with parents as the primary educators of their children
  • We reverence goodness, truth, and beauty in one another and in all of creation
  • We teach right and wrong, good and bad and learn to discern the difference
  • We strive to cultivate a personal encounter with Christ
  • We nurture relationship with Christ through prayer, sacred scripture, the sacraments, and service
  • We strive to become disciples that go and make disciples
Standards and curriculum
The Diocese of Grand Rapids defines academic standards that identify learner outcomes. The curriculum, which includes the teaching and learning materials, is developed and implemented at the school and classroom levels, aligned with diocesan standards. The local school curriculum objectives encompass all
learning experiences (cognitive, psychomotor, and affective) that are planned and directed by the school. The curriculum develops the student’s responsibility to God, self, family, church, community, country, world and other persons. The curriculum upholds the values, morals and teachings of the Catholic Church, and is in accordance with the mission of the school.
Standardized assessments are one tool used in our Catholic schools to monitor academic progress. These are considered to be one data point among many that inform us about a student’s progress.  We recognize that students learn at unique rates – not every student learns to accomplish the same goal on the same day as others. We strive to find the just-right learning pace and path for each student, and meet that student where s/he is academically. Given this recognition, we know that a standardized assessment is simply a snapshot of where that student is in his/her understanding on that date.
Our schools use the following standardized assessments in order to monitor student learning. Standardized assessments are:
Click here to read more about standardized assessments in the Diocese of Grand Rapids.
Grade level summaries
Canon Law 804.2 states: Those who are in charge of Catholic schools are to ensure, under the supervision of the local Ordinary, that the formation given in them is, in its academic standards, at least as outstanding as that in other schools in the area.
Catholic schools take into account Church teachings, Church law, research, diocesan, national, and state standards when creating local standards and curriculum. In the future, grade level summaries will be published on this page in the space below. Each school selects curriculum elements (instructional materials) that will best meet the needs of its community as well as diocesan standards.