Bringing Catholic Education into the 21st Century

Catholic education must evolve in order to survive. One of the most significant of the challenges faced by Catholic schools today is a lack of financial resources. While high schools within the Diocese of San Diego are currently financially stable, there is concern for their future because of under-enrollment at many Catholic elementary schools. The slow financial recovery after the economic crisis of 2007-2008 and changing demographics of parish communities within the diocese have contributed to the inability of families to afford a Catholic elementary education.

In order to “work smarter, not harder”, reorganization of currently inefficient Catholic school systems is absolutely essential. The sharing of intellectual, material, and financial resources between schools will help. In the extreme, it may require school mergers at best, school closures at worst. At the school site level, Catholic education needs to be brought into the 21st Century. Catholic schools are in direct competition with private, charter, and magnet schools as well as with each other. Those that can evolve to meet the needs of families and their children seeking alternatives to public education while providing the highest quality Catholic education possible will survive.

Next Generation School Model

St. Katharine Drexel Academy will open Fall 2018. A newly merged school within the Diocese of San Diego, it has adopted and is implementing a Next Generation school model based on differentiated instruction through blended learning. This model incorporates the use of adaptive technology tools to personalize a student’s educational experience, rotation through activity stations, direct instruction within small groups, and implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards.

While blended learning is not new, it currently has different meanings. In some schools, it can mean instruction across multiple grade levels, sometimes a cost-cutting measure. In others, it means incorporating the use of technology into the curriculum. St. Katharine Drexel Academy has adopted both models. This has not only academic benefits, but serves as a vehicle for student leadership development as well.

The ultimate goal is to provide a Catholic education for all, personalized to a student’s specific needs. Students start where they currently are and are taken as far as they can go. This will require an infusion of financial resources for technology infrastructure and equipment as well as professional development for teachers.

Transition to Standards-Based Grading

Want more insight into Catholic education? Read our blog Understanding and Implementing the Catholic Curriculum Standards.

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