St. Joseph, Catholic schools excel in classroom despite the ongoing pandemic
MADISON, Miss. (Monday, Nov. 7, 2022) – St. Joseph Catholic School is one of hundreds of Catholic schools across the nation excelling in the classroom since the Coronavirus Pandemic began more than two years ago.
The National Assessment of Education Progress, also called the NAEP, a biennial report of the U.S. Department of Education, reported last week that Catholic schools have been outperforming public school counterpoints in many categories.
“At St. Joe, we were one of the first schools in the Jackson area to transition to distance, online-based learning at the start of the pandemic in March 2020,” said Dr. Dena Kinsey, St. Joe principal. “That was a huge step in making sure students stayed on track.
“While other schools shut down or tried to determine how they would handle the pandemic in 2020, our students were already attending class online,” she said. “Then in the fall of 2020, students met in person or, if that wasn’t possible, continued learning online.”
The school made adjustments on campus in fall 2020 to accommodate students and classes during the pandemic. The result: St. Joe students moved forward with the school’s rigorous college prep curriculum and test scores held steady or improved.
St. Joseph Catholic School, founded in 1870 by the Sisters of Mercy, offers seventh- through 12th-grade students a rigorous college prep curriculum grounded in the teachings of the Catholic Church.
St. Joe, 308 New Mannsdale Road in Madison just west of the Interstate 55-Mississippi 463 interchange, is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools – the accrediting arm of Cognia.
Just in the past year, St. Joseph – with an enrollment of about 400 – saw about a 3 percent increase in the number of students scoring 30 or more on the ACT. The school expects at least another 2 percent increase this year.
Many colleges use ACT scores to determine admission and scholarship awards.
St. Joe last year had a 100 percent graduation rate in the 2022 senior class with more than 95 percent of the students choosing to attend college. Seniors were sophomores at St. Joe when the pandemic hit in spring 2020.
Last month, the NAEP released its findings for math and reading in Grades 4 through 8. Although Catholic school students experienced a 5-point drop in Grade 8 math, students’ average scores were 15 points higher than the average scores of Grade 8 public school peers.
The NAEP is a congressionally mandated program that is overseen and administered by the National Center for Education Services within the U.S. Department of Education and the Institute of Education Services. Since 1969, the NAEP has informed the public about what elementary and secondary students know and can do in the arts, civics, math, reading, science, U.S. history and other subject areas.
“Grades 7 and 8 are so critical to providing high school students with a solid academic foundation for high school,” Kinsey said. “Our Catholic schools have been successful because we were there for our students. We pushed on. We didn’t let the pandemic step in the way of education.”
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