The story of the DePaul Catholic School once mirrored that of urban Catholic schools nationally. Over the course of fifty years, DePaul, located in Germantown, faced declines in enrollment, faculty, programs, and test scores. In 2001, DePaul Catholic was under-enrolled at 200 students with no enrichment classes and few student supports. The school routinely performed in the 20th and 30th national percentiles on the TerraNova test.
Over the next decade, DePaul aggressively sought to reverse these trends, creating a national model of excellence for urban Catholic schools. Joining the Independence Mission Schools network allowed the DePaul faculty to focus more strongly on academics and student outcomes. Philadelphia School Partnership’s investment in DePaul enabled the school to bring blended learning to grades K-2 through Seton Education Partners, making DePaul the first Catholic school on the East Coast to launch Seton’s model. Results during the pilot year show DePaul students outperforming the average on a nationally normed exam (NWEA MAP) by roughly 40 percentage points.
In addition, DePaul partnered with the PhillyPLUS program to train school leaders and implement a teacher coaching model. Assistant principal Stephen Janczewski was a PhillyPLUS resident last year; the students of the 12 teachers that he coached showed an average growth of 1.88 years on the Degrees of Reading Power assessment. This year, Seton Blended Learning Manager Betsy Rafferty will be a PhillyPLUS resident. This summer, DePaul also hosted Springboard Collaborative, a summer program designed to reduce summer learning loss. Springboard participants averaged over four months of reading growth this summer in contrast to the projected summer loss of three months for a net gain of seven months of learning.
DePaul Catholic celebrates these developments because they serve DePaul’s community: the students and families of Germantown. Tabatha Gramling, Home and School Association president and DePaul parent, says, “In the end, it’s a group effort.” DePaul’s enrollment has now grown to over 400 students. More importantly, student outcomes have dramatically increased with students consistently outperforming the national average. New principal Sr. Bernadette Miller, DC, is excited to lead DePaul this year as the teachers enter the second year of an instructional coaching cycle, blended learning expands to grades 3-5, and the entire community continues to build the story of DePaul Catholic.