Honor Roll Scoring Method
All Catholic high schools in the United States were invited to apply for inclusion in the Honor Roll by completing three surveys that measure excellence in the areas of academics, civic education, and Catholic identity.
Points are awarded for survey answers that indicate commitment to or achievement in each of the areas of focus. Honor Roll research staff compile the survey data and use a scoring algorithm to calculate a school's score for each survey. In addition, information collected in the free answer sections of the surveys is examined to verify consistency with the data collected in other parts of the surveys.
The overall score is computed by averaging the score from each of the three sections. Each area is weighed equally meaning that placement on the Honor Roll requires excellence in all three areas.
These surveys were developed through a comprehensive process of internal and external consultation, which included the input of a nationally recognized survey expert and the Honor Roll's advisory board, which consists of prominent Catholic college presidents and other noted Catholic scholars.
Survey 1 (Principal/Headmaster/Administrator)
Standardized test scores provide the dominant component of the academic excellence score, where test scores are weighted according to the percentage of students taking the test. PSAT, SAT, and ACT scores are each measured and a multiplier, derived from national average scores, equalize ACT and SAT with PSAT scores.
The academic score also includes the amount of course work offered, the number of AP tests students take, and the percentage of AP test takers who achieved competency scores (3 or higher). For schools that do not offer AP, college credit courses and other similar programs are examined.
Academic scores were modified according to a function that takes into account schools' socio-economic status, based on tuition rates, tuition assistance rates, and selectivity. This means that schools serving a more challenging population are not at an academic disadvantage to other schools.
This year the academic component also includes the graduation rates of recent classes, as well as the continuing education requirement of teachers. This also considers whether faculty have formal education in teaching and their specific field of expertise.
The second block of questions on this survey is used in the Catholic Identity portion of the scoring. These questions gain statistical information that is more readily available to administrators.
Survey 2 (Theology/Religion Chair)
The Catholic identity component was developed using magisterial sources such as papal encyclicals and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Also considered was Church teaching on Catholic education, including Gravissimum Educationis, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, and documents published by the Congregation for Catholic Education. These sources offer guidance regarding the calling, mission, and purpose of Catholic education and for integrating the Catholic faith into the culture and curriculum of Catholic schools.
Emphasis is especially given to the use of texts that are in accordance with the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This consists of those textbooks that appear on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop's (USCCB) list of texts in conformity with the Catechism (www.usccb.org/catechism/document/Currentlist.pdf). It also takes account of original source books such as the Summa Theologica, papal encyclicals, Sacred Scripture and the Catechism itself.
The Catholic identity component has a heavy focus on culture and the formation of students in the Catholic faith. This takes into account the frequency and presence of the sacraments in a school, as well as additional opportunities for students to grow in their faith. New to this year's survey is an examination of whether classes begin in or include prayer, as well as the school's promotion of religious vocations. The presence of extracurricular student groups involving the faith is studied, as are the requirement and the nature of faith formation opportunities such as retreats.
The percentages of Catholic students and faculty are again measured, as is the presence of priest(s), religious, and campus ministers. The use of magisterial texts in theology classes and ongoing theology training given to faculty are also considered.
Wording for agree/disagree questions was taken directly from authoritative ecclesial documents (papal encyclicals, Catechism of the Catholic Church). In those cases, agreement with the statement (or disagreement with its contrary) is taken to indicate commitment to Church teaching on the subject. Question #20 was not measured.
Cross-departmental instruction is also studied. This includes the presence of appropriate civic themes in Religion classes, as well as the appropriate treatment of Theology and Catholic social teaching in civics classes.
Survey 3 (Social Studies/Economics Chair)
Points are awarded for offering and requiring economics, business, and civics/government courses. Providing extracurricular activities and student participation in these areas are also considered.
Cross-departmental instruction is also investigated. This takes into account the presence of Catholic Social teaching in civics classes, as well as the appropriate treatment of civics, economics, and business as found on the Catholic identity survey.
One major addition to this year's survey is the offering and requirement of a social outreach, service-hour or civic responsibility component for students. This element also incorporates an optional service program such as works of mercy and missions.
Themes and wording for agree/disagree questions come from basic competence in given civics fields and from authoritative ecclesial documents (i.e. papal encyclicals, Catechism of the Catholic Church) in Catholic social teaching. Points are given based on adherence to the Church's clear and consistent teaching on related social questions. Question #19 was not measured.