It’s no secret that many Catholic schools are experiencing a loss of traditional Catholic identity, a weakening of academic standards, and the support of views contrary to Church teaching. As a result, schools are closing, attendance is falling, financial struggles are common, and Catholic schools are beginning to resemble public schools that teach religion as a subject.

The question that naturally arises is “what can concerned people do to enact serious improvement?”  Cardinal Newman Society’s Catholic Education Honor Roll hopes to contribute to a reversal of these trends, and despite the many challenges in Catholic secondary education, those schools that face these struggles with excellence and integrity deserve to be recognized.Parents Still Care About Catholic EducationParents today still want their children to receive outstanding moral and religious formation so as to provide them with the foundation needed to excel in all aspects of life.  Recently, a renewed focus and emphasis on quality Catholic education has been manifested in the opening of many new schools and in the founding of numerous organizations that address and support Catholic education.As one of those initiatives, the Catholic Education Honor Roll provides parents a useful tool for making informed choices about their children’s education. Until now, parents had few tools with which to compare the performance of Catholic high schools to other schools. How Catholic high schools rate on academic performance and whether they have been able to resist the general decline in educational standards that has occurred in the public school system are questions that were difficult to answer before.What Is The Catholic Education Honor Roll?The Catholic Education Honor Roll recognizes secondary schools throughout the United States committed to strong Catholic identity and academic excellence. Schools agree to embrace, support and work toward achieving the “Indicators of a School of Excellence.”Who Manages The Honor Roll?The Cardinal Newman Society has managed the Honor Roll since 2012. The Acton Institute founded the Catholic Education Honor Roll in 2004 and administered it through the 2010 recognition cycle.What Is The Purpose Of The School of Excellence Award?The School of Excellence Award is designed to recognize schools that demonstrate excellence in Catholic education as well as encourage and assist schools to strengthen Catholic identity. Having long set the benchmark for moral and academic formation, many Catholic schools now experience a loss of traditional Catholic identity, a weakening of academic standards, and teachers whose views are contrary to Church teaching.Why Does The Honor Roll Evaluate More Than Academics?A common misconception about the Honor Roll is that it is an academic competition. Academic excellence is important, but we believe the integration of Catholic identity is a better measure of the overall quality of a Catholic education. There are many high schools with strong academic reputations that have not received recognition by the Catholic Education Honor Roll.

Which Schools From Our Local Archdiocese Are On The Honor Roll?

There are three schools from the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis that have received the latest School of Excellence Award:

  1. Chesterton Academy, Edina, MN
  2. Providence Academy, Plymouth, MN
  3. St. Agnes High School, St. Paul, MN

Why Might A Catholic High School Be Missing From The Honor Roll?

This is one of the most common questions we are asked, and too often the answer is the school never applied for consideration. We know there are many fine schools throughout the country, and the Honor Roll, like any similar instrument, is just one measure of a school’s achievement. Participation is at the discretion of the administration as we invite all eligible high schools by enrolling and completing the required surveys.

How Does The Cardinal Newman Society’s Sponsorship Add Value For Honor Roll Participants?

Founded in 1993, The Cardinal Newman Society helps renew and strengthen Catholic identity in Catholic higher education. The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College recommends faithful Catholic colleges and universities to Catholic families. Through the Catholic Education Honor Roll, the Newman Society now applies its experience to Catholic high schools, promotes the best in Catholic secondary education, and encourages awareness of faithful Catholic colleges and universities among Catholic high school educators, students, and their families. All members of the Honor Roll’s National Collegiate Advisory Board are presidents of The Newman Guide colleges and universities.

The Cardinal Newman Society provides each school enrolled in the Honor Roll copies of The Newman Guide. Additionally, each junior and senior in a high school that participated in the Honor Roll will receive a specially-created 96-page magazine to help them navigate their search for a Catholic college. “I had no idea that there were so many faithful Catholic colleges in the U.S.,” one high school administrator told us shortly after we assumed responsibility for the program. His school uses The Newman Guide to highlight Catholic colleges during Catholic Schools Week in January. “Each home room highlighted a different school,” he said. “Now I know why my brother sends all of his kids to [a Newman Guide college].”

The Cardinal Newman Society hopes in the future to sponsor collaborative meetings among principals and other key officials and faculty members of Honor Roll schools, feature online articles about Honor Roll schools and how they excel, and provide materials and guidance for strengthening Catholic identity, academic excellence, and civic education.

What Has Been The Impact Of The Catholic Education Honor Roll Awards Program?

Since the Honor Roll’s inception in 2004, schools have found the public recognition associated with the Honor Roll is a great opportunity to recognize their schools, teachers, and staff as well as a great incentive for improvement.

The best schools are highlighted to inspire imitation and encouragement among all schools. The Honor Roll calls on all Catholic schools to scrutinize themselves in relation to the Church’s educational calling.

Recognized schools find the publicity associated with the award very powerful; it enables them to tell the country how they excel as faithful Catholic academic establishments. Since the program began in 2004, more than 250 media stories ─ in major newspapers, magazines, on TV and the radio ─ have highlighted the fact that these schools have earned this distinction and are remaining faithful to the mission of Catholic education. Even more, constituencies of schools use the Honor Roll to promote and strengthen their programs, all because the bar has been set high, and they are proud to have met the standards for recognition.

How Much Does It Cost To Participate In The Honor Roll?

There is no cost or obligation to participate in the Catholic Education Honor Roll.  It is a free resource from The Cardinal Newman Society for Catholic high schools.

Where Can I Get More Information?

Dr. Jamie Arthur, the head of Cardinal Newman Society’s Honor Roll, gave a presentation to parents of the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis on January 19, 2017.  Video excerpts of her presentation along with other resources can be viewed at Event 2017.