The following comes from a Dec. 12 story in Catholic San Francisco by Valerie Schmalz.

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone is creating a new Office of Catholic Identity Assessment for Catholic high schools starting Jan. 1 – an initiative that may be the first in the country.

The office will not only work with the four archdiocesan high schools which fall directly under the archdiocesan Department of Catholic Schools, but with the 10 Catholic high schools which are owned by religious communities as well.

The office will be led by Melanie Morey, who has spent the 20 years since she received her doctorate in education from Harvard writing, teaching, and working to more effectively address issues related to Catholic institutional life, culture, and identity. For the past 3½ years she served as provost at St. Patrick’s Seminary & University where she has led three separate accreditation self-studies and visits.

“How do we create an excellent Catholic culture in our time? In our archdiocese?” asked Morey.

“Right now, the archbishop wants to focus on the high schools,” said Morey. “They are a tremendously important set of institutions in the life of the church. They are educating the future of the church: young men and women who are coming to know better what being Catholic means and what it means for their own lives.”

Certainly Catholic high schools in the Archdiocese of San Francisco are committed to being Catholic and trying to find ways to support and sustain their unique Catholic identity, Morey said. Being able to do that over time however, requires that the schools get better at measuring Catholic identity and managing it, a process that can be summed up in one word – assessment.

Morey said the new office will focus on two main areas: assessment and formation.

The assessment component will concentrate on three priorities at Catholic high schools:

– Catholic content: Across the disciplines, in classrooms, in sports, music, drama, art.
– Catholic witness: “There has to be a significant number of Catholic faculty in the schools who integrate the faith in their own lives and are willing to talk about it with their students,” Morey said.
– Catholic practices: An essential and intricate network of small acts or behaviors that remind students again and again of the Catholic faith.

Morey will work with a board of still-to-be-appointed Catholic academics and education experts to develop more particularized criteria related to the Western Catholic Education Association standards and principles of Catholic identity. These more specific expectations will guide teams of Catholic school teachers and administrators fielded by the Office of Catholic Identity Assessment who will visit each school every three years, Morey said.

The second focus of the Office of Catholic Identity Assessment will be formation for faculty and administrators. It will sponsor in-service days during the academic school year and summer immersion seminars for faculty, Morey said.

The first official activity of the new office will be a meeting with all of the high school presidents and principals, sometime in January or February 2015, Morey said….

To read the original story, click here.