In March 2012, Bishop Morlino asked our parish catechetical programs to join our Catholic schools in annually administering the ACRE assessment. The schools had already been administering the assessment for three years and the parish programs began in spring 2013. The first two years of results have provided all of us in the parishes with an excellent opportunity to improve the designing of our programs to better meet the catechetical needs of those whom we serve in the name of Jesus Christ. Information for the 2015 administration of the assessment is below.
By way of update, NCEA released a new set of assessments in 2013 (the IFG:ACRE 2013), but since the spring 2014 assessment was only the second year for parishes using the old version (ACRE 2001), and it was logistically fitting to maintain consistency between our schools and parish programs, we were happy to use the ACRE 2001 again in the spring of 2014. Last (spring 2015), all parishes and schools transitioned to the IFG:ACRE 2013 which involved the necessity of purchasing new Assessment booklets. For 2016-2017 budgeting requirements, be sure to include an additional $1.80 per booklet or $1.25 if your school or parish has an NCEA membership or you would like to use the Diocesan Membership (contact our office for the info). Of course, it may make sense to share booklets between schools and parish programs, within clusters, and the like. Most parishes should have bought new booklets last year and they will not need to be replaced for this year.
For more information, FAQs, and ordering information, click here. For the Diocese of Madison Do's and Dont's Sheet for Ordering, click here.
Timeline for the Spring 2016 Administration of the ACRE Assessment in the Diocese of Madison:
Another assessment tool offered by NCEA is the Information For Growth (IFG) for adults. IFG provides a spiritual/growth profile for all adults: the general population as well as catechists, parents, catechumenate team members, and neophytes. For general information and periodic updates about NCEA ACRE-IFG, go to the NCEA website here.
As further questions arise, they will be adressed in the FAQ section below.
The policy of the NCEA was that due to confidentiality concerns they would not provide reports for the second section of the assessment (“Personal Beliefs, Attitudes, Practices and Perceptions”) if there were less than 6 students in a class. This policy seems to make sense given the personal nature of these questions.
To remedy this situation, CAL has agreed to provide complimentary individual reports for all groups that have less than six students. These reports are comprehensive and they can tell you quite a bit from the first section of the assessment, the faith knowledge of the students, but it omits results from the second section.
We ask that you complete the second section with your kids, however, so it is rightly counted in the diocesan composite as well.
Therefore, you will get good and solid reports from submissions of less than six kids, it will simply be on the first section of the assessment.
The "Diocese Code" for the Diocese of Madison is 084. These codes can be accessed by going to the CAL Testing web page linked above (and here) and clicking "Diocese Codes List."
ACRE is used in 133 different dioceses. The Archdiocese of Indianapolis just adopted ACRE for their parishes and schools, and the Diocese of Green Bay will be using it in all of their parishes and schools beginning this spring (2012).
Though there will be a new revised assessment next fall (September 2013), the present edition will be usable for this academic year (2012-2013), and the 2013-2014 academic year. For the latter, both the new and old assessments will be able to be used. Beginning with the 2014-2015 academic year, only the new assessment will be available and these booklets will have to be purchased at that time.
Yes, the assessment score sheets are the same for both Catholic Schools and Parish Catechetical Programs, and, for each level (5th grade, 8th grade, 10 -12 high school confirmation). There is only one type of answer sheet to order.
Similar to ACRE, our new Catechetical Standards are based off of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and framed by the Protocol for Assessing the Conformity of Catechetical Materials with the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Each benchmark has a reference notation to paragraphs in the Catechism. The ACRE will thus complement, very well, our new standards and textbook selections. In order to support the teachers and parish catechetical leaders in implementing the Standards, the Seat of Wisdom Diocesan Institute has very deliberately designed its basic (core) curriculum around a systematic presentation of the content of the Catechism (26 sections in 26 hours of instruction). Our goal is to ensure that all of our teachers are familiar with the structure of the Catechism and its doctrinal substance.
The Church “is bidden to offer catechesis her best resources in people and energy, without sparing effort, toil or material means in order to organize it better” (Pope John Paul II, Catechesi Tradendae, 15). In this first year the, the cost will be $2.75 per student for NCEA members, and $3.50 for non-members. Multiply this amount by the number of students in your 5th, 8th, and high school confirmation year for a total budget item cost.
The NCEA ACRE is the National Catholic Educational Association's Assessment for Catechesis/Religious Education. It is a very good and practical tool used for assessing a Catechetical/Religious Education program. The assessment results assist program directors in designing programs to meet the catechetical needs of the people they serve. The assessment is meant to provide you with data to enhance your programs. It is meant as a tool for growth.
Benefits of NCEA ACRE:
The ACRE is not designed to be a test for students nor an assessment of teachers (though that information is available in the reports). It is designed to assist administrators, with the help of faculty, in aligning catechetical curriculum to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and improving their program’s effectiveness from year to year.
Nor is the ACRE a sort of “gotcha” program. It is not designed, nor intended to be punitive in any way to any catechetical personnel. It is most useful in helping faculty design the finest most authentic and effective catechetical curriculum possible.
The ACRE is primarily designed from the USCCB’s Protocol for Assessing the Conformity of Catechetical Materials with the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It should thus nicely complement any text-based curriculum on their list of catechetical texts found in conformity with the Catechism of the Catholic Church, along with our new diocesan Catechetical Standards (due for release in summer, 2012).
The ACRE is not administered at all grades, but at only three different levels, providing a snapshot of the program at these various stages, and thus avoiding excessive expense.
ACRE is used to evaluate a local catechetical program’s strengths and weaknesses. Administrators may know the strengths of their program anecdotally, but ACRE can help them quantify these strengths.
On the other hand, there may also be lacunas in the curriculum which are more elusive to detect. To the extent one can identify those areas that are not strong in their curriculum, is the same extent to which they will be capable of strengthening their program. ACRE helps with this process.
St. John Chrysostom said, "What greater work is there than training the minds and forming the habits of the young?"Two Parts for Lived Faith
Reports are broken down by 8 domains helping to readily identify strengths and weaknesses in the program. They are also given by 1) “Relative Standing”: how a program’s students compared to a national average; 2) “Standards Based Criterion” measuring the program against what would be expected for students to be considered “proficient” or “advanced”; and a 3) “Growth, Change Progress” criterion that measures how classes or students improved over a span of years.
Optional individual student score reports for the faith knowledge section only are available for an additional fee.
Preferably with the catechists, the parish catechetical leader performs a “Curriculum Alignment Review,” going through each question of the assessment and asking if the students will have had “the opportunity to learn” the content knowledge necessary to answer that question correctly. In our schools, this exercise has taken away some the “gotcha” fear teachers have experienced due to the “No Child Left Behind” standards.
In the Fall of 2006, the Diocese piloted a “home grown” assessment based on the local standards promulgated by Bishop Bullock in 2001. Yet due to inconsistency in language, among other matters, it was concluded that this assessment provided little, if any, statistically valid data. Because ACRE is based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Protocol for Assessing the Conformity of Catechetical Materials with the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it best assists program administrators in analyzing the conformance of their curriculum with the universal Catechism.
Furthermore, due to it’s broad national use (189,226 assessments given in 2010-11 alone), the national statistics provide a better standard for evaluation; and, overall, its cost is low for the benefit gained.
Pope Benedict tells us this special year “will have to see a concerted effort to rediscover and study the fundamental content of the faith that receives its systematic and organic synthesis in the Catechism of the Catholic Church … In this Year, then, the Catechism of the Catholic Church will serve as a tool providing real support for the faith, especially for those concerned with the formation of Christians, so crucial in our cultural context” (Porta Fidei, 11-12).
Thus, this special Year, is ordered toward the improvement of catechesis. For “those concerned with the formation of Christians” in our Catholic schools and parishes, we are providing new Seat of Wisdom in-service days, to assist us all in rediscovering and studying the fundamental content of the faith. To support our communal catechetical mission, especially for our grade school children, we also expect to release new Catechetical Standards based on the Catechism by summer. It is thus only fitting that our parish programs benefit from the same tools as our schools but utilizing the ACRE assessment as well in measuring our ongoing progress and making adjustments along the way.
These results serve as a basis for diocesan staff to design more effective catechetical and pedagogical training for our principals, teachers, parish catechetical leaders and catechists. It also allows them to provide curriculum ideas and facilitate collaboration between different catechetical personnel where they can share their “best practices” according to their respective strengths.