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Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany
October 14, 2016
For immediate release

Diocese of Albany’s Catholic School Office, 22 Catholic SchoolsReceive Accreditation from AdvancED

It was a history-making moment for the Diocese of Albany Catholic Schools when an external review team from AdvancED, a non-profit, non-partisan accrediting agency, announced that the diocesan system of 22 schools as well as the Catholic School Office would receive accreditation.  

The largest conference room at the diocesan Pastoral Center was standing room only as the team issued its report, emphasizing not only the quality of education offered at local Catholic schools but the sense of “communion” and the “exceptional strength” of Catholic identity that exists among them.

“You are one of the best kept secrets in this part of the country,” said Eddie Krenson, Vice President of Nonpublic School Services for AdvancED, as he delivered the report and accreditation decision Oct. 6. “The Diocese exceeded standards in every category.” 

Among the other strengths emphasized were the “extraordinarily strategic directives” of the Diocesan School Board, the emotional literacy program and curriculum development found at the diocesan elementary and secondary schools, as well as the ability to meet or procure the services to address the needs of students with disabilities. Several priorities were also outlined, including efforts to find alternative funding for Catholic schools, to further develop a system-wide curriculum, to strategize on teacher recruitment and retention, and to develop new avenues for student recruitment and retention.

“This accreditation is an affirmation of what we have long known to be true: our Catholic schools provide not only a top-notch education to students in the Diocese of Albany but lay the foundation of faith on which our children can build for years to come,” said Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger. “Congratulations to our teachers and staff, our Catholic School Office, and our students and Catholic school families. Your collaboration and commitment to Catholic education has made this possible.”

This process affirms collaboration and cohesiveness exists between and among the system of schools. Evidence that was submitted for review included parent, student, and faculty survey data from every school, standards ratings in all areas within the AdvancEd Standards for Quality protocol as well as the Catholic criteria derived from the National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools.

Programs highlighted as examples of this collaborative approach include the Theatre Arts Program with the system’s schools in the greater Albany area, the STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) initiative in the greater Troy area, as well as the Diocesan School Board’s Higher Powered Learning grant program.

“Parents are the primary educators and our system of schools builds all of our good work upon that foundational principle”, said Michael E. Pizzingrillo, Diocesan Superintendent of Schools. “It is with the needs of children first and foremost that we continue to look at new and innovative ways to deliver the highest quality education possible in as many locations throughout the 14-county Diocese.”

The 10-person AdvancED team, representing dioceses and colleges including educational consultants from throughout the United States and Mexico, visited every school in the Diocese of Albany, with a total of 156 classroom observations over a two-day period. In addition, team members conducted interviews with diocesan administration, Catholic school collaborators and supporters at the Pastoral Center, Diocesan School Board members, and pastors asking about everything from marketing and finances to human resources and physical facilities. The accreditation concluded a process started by the 25-member Diocesan Accreditation Steering Committee in June 2014.

“We express our thanks to the visiting team members who volunteered their service, time, and talent to our system of schools. Their work was outstanding, acknowledging the great work of the schools both individually and collectively with their recommendation for accreditation,” said Associate Superintendent of Schools Giovanni Virgiglio. “We now await the final report which will reflect in a formal way that which was delivered by the team today.”