Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Executive Ed.D. in Education Leadership Management and Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Richard Blissett, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Elaine Walker, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Thomas McDade, Ed.D.


Catholic identity, Catholic schools, Catholic school standards


In order for Catholic schools to fulfill the mission as outlined by the Church, their identity must be strong. Catholic schools play an important role in the evangelizing mission of the Church and without a strong Catholic identity, they cannot meet that mission (Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, 1998). It is important that the Catholic identity be a priority of those who teach and serve in Catholic schools. According to the NCEA annual statistical report, today only 2.6% of the full time equivalent professional staff in Catholic schools are religious compared to 48.4% in 1970 and 90.1% in 1950 (McDonald & Schultz, 2018). Do the laity require extensive formation or is their call to serve enough to help them be formed and understand the unique aspects of Catholic identity?

This study sought to determine whether the vocation of a principal influenced the perception of the teachers of the Catholic identity and additionally were there any behaviors, actions or characteristics of the principal also influenced the perception of the teachers. Utilizing a quantitative approach, teachers in the Archdiocese of Newark were given the “Catholic Identity Defining Characteristics Staff Survey” designed by the Center for Catholic School Effectiveness, School of Education, Loyola University Chicago in conjunction with the Roche Center for Catholic Education, Lynch School of Education, Boston College (2012). Principals were asked to evaluate their school based on the National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools and the benchmarks for the first four standards of identity and mission. One hundred forty three teachers survey responses were analyzed for this study along with thirteen principals.

Overall the teachers’ perception of the Catholic identity of schools in the Archdiocese of Newark was above average. The results of the survey did show areas for growth as well as areas of strength. The vocation of the principal was not a predictive factor in the perception of the identity by teachers but there were key characteristics and behaviors that did have a predictive power. The study provides insight into understanding how Catholic identity is perceived and ways that perception can be strengthened for both school level leadership as well as Archdiocesan leadership.