Perceived impact of the Middle States Association self -study process on the Catholic identity of the elementary school

Mary Ann Keeley, Fordham University


This study examined the perceived impact of the Middle States Association self-study process on the Catholic identity of 5 accredited elementary schools. The research explored the experiences of 5 school community members from each site. The participants were actively involved in their school's self-study process. The research utilized the National Catholic Education Association's description of Catholic identity for an authentic Catholic school that was written in 1990. The study focused on each of the distinctive characteristics of Catholic identity. The participants were purposively selected in order to ensure representation from different locations within the Middle States region and diversity among governance, staffing patterns, leaderships, community demographics, and student populations. The principal, pastor, 2 teachers, and a parent from 3 stateside and 2 island schools participated in the study. Schools in the study used the Commission on Elementary Schools' publication, The Assembly Guide for Catholic Schools (Basile, 1994), and completed the process within the prior 2 years. The primary data collection method was retrospective interviews. Participants recalled their personal experiences and shared their perceptions of its impact on their school's Catholic identity. Comprehensive reviews of each school's self-study and accreditation documents allowed for the triangulation of data. Five of the 7 characteristics of Catholic identity emerged as the major themes throughout the interview process. Cultural and ethnic perspectives and a school's leadership influenced the participants' perceptions. The research findings suggest the self-study process had a positive impact on each community's understanding of the school as a ministry of the Church, its commitment to academic excellence, the building of and providing for the community's spiritual formation, its educational climate, and its commitment to offering students opportunities for service, prayer, and liturgy. The concept of the Catholic school as an evangelizing educational community was unfamiliar to the majority of stateside participants.

Subject Area

School administration|Elementary education|Religious education

Recommended Citation

Keeley, Mary Ann, "Perceived impact of the Middle States Association self -study process on the Catholic identity of the elementary school" (2001). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3021704.