The schools of the Diocese of Pittsburgh are uniquely Catholic. They exist for the purpose of promoting a Catholic way of life based on Gospel values. The Catholic Schools play an important role in transmitting the faith, in building the community, and in promoting service. To preserve traditional moral and religious values and to meet the new ethical challenges in tomorrow’s society, emphasis is placed on critical thinking skills, problem solving and decision making.
The curriculum of the schools reflects these Catholic principles through integration of the faith into all areas of instruction. Dedicated professionals whose teaching ministry is based on a love for the Church create an environment that is communal and service oriented. The leadership of Pastor and Principal provides for opportunities for Catholic practice, including liturgies, reception of the sacraments, and other spiritual experiences.
The philosophy behind the curriculum of the Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Pittsburgh is student-centered and rooted in the uniqueness of the individual child. Students are encouraged and motivated to develop their academic potential. Attention to individual differences is a significant factor in designing curriculum. No two people learn in the same way, at a uniform rate or at a common point in time with identical degrees of mastery, confidence and personal satisfaction. It is obvious then, that the organizational plan will differ from school to school. It is the responsibility of the Principal along with the faculty to plan and implement the philosophy. Differentiated instruction plus opportunity for individual assignments and growth are integral to the organizational structure of the school.
The Catholic Schools of the Diocese are committed to excellence in its spiritual and academic goals. All instruction, all learning, and all activities are directed to the full development of the human person, for the welfare of an earthly society and the building of the Kingdom of God.
The Continuous Growth Approach to Curricula Instruction
The Catholic Schools located within the Diocese of Pittsburgh are committed to a program of education which seeks academic excellence, moral courage and developing faith, in the light of social and cultural change.
The curricula for the Catholic Schools are based on the pedagogical concepts that all children are unique, learn at different rates and are to be challenged to their fullest potential.
Research indicates that children will achieve according to the expectancies placed upon them by their teachers and parents. The schools of the Diocese of Pittsburgh place high expectancy upon all teachers to motivate the children to achieve to the best of their ability.
This is particularly true in the skill areas of Reading and Math. The curricula for these subjects are so designed that students can advance through defined levels of competency according to their needs and abilities. This program is referred to as a Continuous Growth Program. This term, continuous growth, indicates a multi-dimensional approach of continuing individual learning. Students are evaluated on their achievement at expected grade level.
The goals of the Continuous Growth Program in Reading and Math are:
Flexible grouping is an important component of the continuous growth concept. This provision places students at an appropriate instructional level and then allows them to move forward in the curriculum as they achieve mastery of content and skills. Students are not to be “locked” into an instructional group. Teachers will assess the learning abilities of their students and allow for this flexibility in their instructional groups.
Teachers, recognizing different learning styles, vary their presentation and assignments in the other areas of the curricula so as to provide for the individual needs of each child. Critical thinking skills, problem solving and research techniques are to be a part of each student’s instruction. Enrichment activities should be provided for all students, thus broadening the lesson presented. Learners who achieve at a slower pace should be given the opportunity to work with those who are more gifted in order to encourage cooperation and team work among the students.
In using this approach to education, the teachers in the Diocese of Pittsburgh strive to implement the American Bishops’ Pastoral TO TEACH AS JESUS DID by teaching His message, building faith community and encouraging students to be of service to others.
Middle State Accreditation
The Department for Catholic Schools requires all Catholic elementary and secondary schools become reaccredited through the Commission on Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
The process used by Middle States is a Strategic Planning Process. The vision for the Middle States/Strategic Planning process in the Diocese of Pittsburgh is stated in the following words:
To promote and to sustain Catholic schools of unparalleled quality, which integrate faith into every aspect of life and culture producing graduates who continually strive for human and Christian perfection. These well-managed schools, in light of their great values, will be open to all and made accessible as possible by seeking support from the total Catholic community as well as from the community at large.
Six topical areas for continuous improvement of the schools have been identified by the Department for Catholic Schools.
Faith Formation/Catholic Identity
Growth in Enrollments
Effective Patterns of Organization and Administration
Support from Parents and Community