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New Lexington Institute Study: Catholic Schools Should Adopt Charter Best Practices to Survive

Key Points of Study:

  • Charter schools will enroll more students in 2012-2013 than Catholic schools for the first time
  • Path-breaking innovations pioneered by charters like blended learning offer Catholic schools a path forward
  • Customized learning through technology empowers students, parents, teachers and donors and can improve both academic and financial outcomes
  • Data-rich instruction can enhance the Christian mission of Catholic schools and can sustain these schools financially better than traditional models

Contact: Don Soifer, 703-522-5828, soifer@lexingtoninstitute.org; Sean Kennedy, 315-982-1283, kennedy@lexingtoninstitute.org; both with Lexington Institute 

ARLINGTON, Va., July 23, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- The Lexington Institute today released a study, "Building 21st Century Catholic Learning Communities: Enhancing the Catholic Mission with Data, Blended Learning, and Other Best Practices From Top Charter Schools" that examines how Catholic schools can reform their education and business models.

This upcoming school year (2012-2013) marks a milestone as charter schools will, for the first time, eclipse Catholic schools in enrollment. Catholic schools often view the rise of charters as a threat to their continued viability. Instead, Catholic schools should learn from high-performing charters and innovate to deliver high-quality education to more students at a low cost.

The study concludes that technology-based learning customization can help turnaround Catholic schools both financially and academically.

The study profiles Mission Dolores Academy in San Francisco, a first of its kind blended learning Catholic school. Mission Dolores, a K-8 Catholic school with an enrollment of 220, has partnered with Seton Education Partners, an education consultancy founded by KIPP co-founder Scott Hamilton, to implement the individualized instruction model.

Thus far, the model has successfully boosted student proficiency in math (up 16%) and English (up 6%) in the first year while cutting per pupil costs by 10%.

According to the study's author, Sean Kennedy, "Blended learning or the customization of student learning through technology offers Catholic schools an unprecedented opportunity to return to a sure financial footing while delivering demonstrable academic excellence."
Under the blended learning model, Catholic schools' strengths and values are accentuated as students receive more personalized attention and support in highly disciplined and cooperative communities.

Blended learning also helps Catholic schools address their weaknesses by providing schools with real-time and longitudinal data on student and school performance, something often lacking in Catholic schools. Schools can then use this data to improve student outcomes, engage parents and donors, and "sell their success" to stakeholders.

In the era of school choice, Catholic schools must offer parents a value proposition of high achievement, student empowerment, and affordability. Blended learning can help Catholic schools meet that challenge.

Kennedy said, "Catholic schools succeeded for so long because they refused to change, but it is becoming necessary to change. Blended learning complements traditional Catholic school values -- discipline, high expectations, and a commitment to the success of every child."

For the full text and Executive Summary of the study, please click here