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Archdiocesan high schools implement new accreditation protocol

Cohort model developed by Cognia allows schools to gain accreditation simultaneously

MIAMI | During the 2021-2022 academic year, secondary schools operated by the Archdiocese of Miami successfully implemented a new and novel approach to accreditation – the Cohort Accreditation Model.

The vision was for all the schools to renew their accreditation as a cohort with consistent standards and renewal procedures, and to do so simultaneously. Over a period of six years, the schools and leaders in the archdiocesan Office of Catholic Schools prepared to implement this novel protocol, which culminated with all eight high schools fully renewing their accreditation status during the 2021-2022 school year.

Secondary schools are regionally accredited by Cognia (formerly AdvancED/SACS) and discussion about the new model began in 2016. As the model generally requires participation of all district or diocesan schools — elementary and secondary — it was not an option for the archdiocese’s elementary schools, who are required to be accredited by the Florida Catholic Conference.

Mascots of the eight high schools operated by the Archdiocese of Miami, from left, top: Immaculata-La Salle Royal Lions; Msgr. Pace Spartans; Archbishop McCarthy Mavericks; Archbishop Carroll Bulldogs; bottom: St. Brendan Sabres; Cardinal Gibbons Chiefs; St. Thomas Aquinas Raiders; Lourdes Academy Bobcats.

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Mascots of the eight high schools operated by the Archdiocese of Miami, from left, top: Immaculata-La Salle Royal Lions; Msgr. Pace Spartans; Archbishop McCarthy Mavericks; Archbishop Carroll Bulldogs; bottom: St. Brendan Sabres; Cardinal Gibbons Chiefs; St. Thomas Aquinas Raiders; Lourdes Academy Bobcats.

The cohort process was the brainchild of Cognia's former director of non-public services, Eddie Krenson, who worked with the archdiocese’s superintendent of schools at that time, Kim Pryzbylski, and Donald Edwards, associate superintendent. Krenson discussed the model in detail with Cognia’s president, Mark Elgart, who approved the process in 2019.

Cognia tailored the protocol to the Catholic schools by integrating the National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Schools. Four of the eight schools completed the process during the fall semester, and four during the spring semester.

Review teams were selected and trained by Cognia's current senior director of accreditation services, Adina Victor, who formerly directed academic services for the archdiocese’s Office of Catholic Schools.

Each of the high schools — Archbishop Edward McCarthy in Southwest Ranches; Archbishop Coleman Carroll, Immaculata-La Salle, Lourdes Academy and St. Brendan in Miami; Msgr. Edward Pace in Miami Gardens; and Cardinal Gibbons and St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale — completed the process with glowing results.

Final reports commended the schools for maintaining a strong mission-driven culture; for extending services to a wide variety of students through multi-leveled curricula and programs; for their strong commitment to continuous improvement; for their commitment to support students' academic, spiritual and emotional well-being; and numerous other accolades.

The report recommended that the schools continue to focus on three areas of ongoing development: effective board governance, data collection and analysis, and continuous improvement.

To support the schools in their continuous pursuit of excellence, Cognia makes available numerous tools and services, many at no additional costs, in the form of webinars, seminars, conferences, surveys, professional development opportunities, and advanced training.

“I am honored to have been selected to lead this cohort of secondary schools together with the other institutions that are part of the educational apostolate of the Archdiocese of Miami,” said current School Superintendent Jim Rigg. “These schools are clearly committed to excellence in Catholic education. It is gratifying that each of our archdiocesan high schools has been recognized for their commitment to excellence and continuous improvement.

“The successful completion of the cohort accreditation process through Cognia validates the outstanding efforts of our students, teachers, and staff members,” Rigg continued. “Moving forward, we are committed to continuing this great tradition of providing superior Catholic education for all students who, through Christ, are entrusted to our care. We are truly blessed to have excellent and thriving secondary schools in the Archdiocese of Miami.”

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