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Notre Dame ACE Academies Kickoff in Tampa with Celebration

on Thursday, 27 September 2012.

A Photo Essay by Andrea Cisneros

In 2010, ACE established the first partnership in a new model of Catholic schooling in the three Notre Dame ACE Academies in Tucson, Arizona. This fall, the Notre Dame ACE Academies network expanded to the Diocese of St. Petersburg. The Notre Dame ACE Academies Tampa community celebrated the beginning of this partnership with a mass and celebration on September 15th. Notre Dame ACE Academies Assistant Director, Andie Cisneros, offers this photo journey through the weekend.

Maximizing Gains from Parental Choice Laws: ACE Consulting Welcomes Partners

Written by William Schmitt on Tuesday, 18 September 2012.

A New Service Offers Choice Implementation Assessments, Strategies

A new service offered by ACE Consulting aims to help Catholic schools capture the opportunities and confront the challenges that can arise when states pass parental choice laws.

These laws typically allow children to attend Catholic schools or other alternatives to local public schools, using vouchers or tax credit scholarships to pay for tuition. Such financial assistance can lead to quickly rising enrollments at some Catholic schools—good news that also raises significant issues about pedagogy, management, and sustainability for these schools.

ACE Consulting has expanded its suite of services to support school leadership in maximizing participation in states that have passed legislation in support of School Choice Scholarship Programs and ensuring high-quality education for all students. The program is a publicly funded scholarship program offering eligible Hoosier families the opportunity to send their children to the school of their choice.

ACE Consulting has developed a diagnostic assessment that addresses a range of impact areas. These include the school's mission and culture; governance; financial management; enrollment management and financing; and academic programming. The objective is to provide participating schools with an action plan to develop fiscal, operational, and instructional competencies to support the highest-quality education to as many children as possible.

This new diagnostic service was pilot tested in five schools during the spring semester of 2012 in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana. Less than a year before, the state government had implemented the Indiana Choice Scholarship Program. ACE Consulting assessed the impacts of this program by surveying information from various stakeholders—parents, pastors, principals, school board members, and teachers. Consultants also conducted classroom observations, focus groups, and demographic reviews.

The results from the 2011 passage of Indiana's Choice Scholarship Program show that schools' wise implementation of such a program is as important as a state's enactment of the law. Not only did Indiana parents relish the newfound autonomy over their child's education, but their decisions reflected a latent demand for Catholic education. Nearly 4,000 students statewide enrolled in the program, more than 2,550 of whom registered with Catholic schools.

At the end of the process this summer, the ACE Consulting team provided a diagnostic review of each school's current status and strategic recommendations to optimize the use of the Choice Scholarship Program going forward.

In the coming months, ACE Consulting will be available to work with the schools, all in the greater South Bend area, to help implement the strategies recommended in each case.

ACE Consulting is poised to use the diagnostic assessment in other dioceses and anticipates that this service may be desired in other states as parental choice laws are passed and Catholic schools respond to the opportunities and challenges of leveraging such legislation.

With more than 25 parental choice programs nationwide—and many more on the horizon—this initiative within ACE is a timely effort to couple two central goals: improving school quality while expanding access to educational alternatives, especially for at-risk families.

ACE Consulting will expand this initiative this fall, providing the diagnostic assessment tools to schools in the Indianapolis and Milwaukee areas, with a view toward extending this work to other locations in the future.

Notre Dame ACE Academies Bringing Hope in Catholic School Partnerships in Tucson

Written by William Schmitt on Wednesday, 29 August 2012.

Signs of Success as 3 Notre Dame ACE Academies enter third year with a mix of initiatives

Two inner-city Catholic schools in Tucson have welcomed back students with a particular sense of change and hope in the air, entering a third year of unusual innovations and investments that pay off for the children and the city.

The two elementary schools—St. John the Evangelist and Santa Cruz—were designated in 2010 as Notre Dame ACE Academies, representing an in-depth partnership with the University of Notre Dame and its Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE).

That partnership has ushered in state-of-the-art reading and math programs, along with support services to help faculty members adopt the various innovations for the maximum benefit of each student. School culture has become more focused on Catholic identity, featuring a drive for personal excellence that proclaims "College and Heaven" as each child's primary goals. More families in the largely Hispanic and low-income neighborhoods have lined up to enroll their children, and scholarship availability for enrollments has jumped, thanks to Arizona's parental choice tax credit program and resultant contributions from both corporations and individuals.

"ACE Collaborative" Brings Structure, Resources to Teams in Additional Dioceses

Written by William Schmitt on Friday, 24 August 2012.

Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment Are the Focus of ACE Collaborative for Academic Excellence

Four dioceses are the newest partners in an Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) initiative that empowers teachers for teamwork that will shape the future of instruction at their schools.

The ACE Collaborative for Academic Excellence (ACAE) began conducting workshops this summer with Catholic school leaders and teacher teams in the Dioceses of Camden and Paterson in New Jersey; the Diocese of Jackson, Mississippi; and the Diocese of Savannah, Georgia.

The ACAE, based at the University of Notre Dame, continues to work with educators in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, the Diocese of Reno, and the Diocese of Tucson. The collaborations are a sustained professional development program, providing a framework to strengthen curriculum, instruction, and assessment in Catholic schools.

ACE "Missioning" Sends Forth Teachers and Leaders to Catholic Schools

Written by William Schmitt on Tuesday, 31 July 2012.

Bishop McFadden's Thanks and Blessings for More than 200 Set to Serve

The Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) at Notre Dame capped its annual "ACE Summer" of formation programs and conferences with a "missioning" Mass on July 27, sending forth more than 200 teachers and leaders to Catholic schools across the United States.

The Most Rev. Joseph P. McFadden, bishop of the Diocese of Harrisburg and a prominent voice on education within the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, presided at the Mass in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart to honor the "vocation" and "calling" of service in Catholic elementary and secondary schools.

"Your participation in the ACE program is a great blessing for the Church," he said in his homily. "As the chairman of the Bishops' Committee on Catholic Education, I thank you for your willingness to enter into this most important and essential work of the Church."

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