Academics

To the end of developing students rooted in faith, educated in mind, and compassionate in heart, the curriculum includes all of the guided learning experiences of the student under the direction of the Diocese of Raleigh, The Franciscan School, and the classroom teacher. It includes the content of the course of studies, but it is not limited to it. The experiences of the student include participation in religious, intellectual, cultural, physical, social, and civic activities both in the classroom and, when possible, outside the school. TFS Faculty and Staff strive to create a value centered, holistic environment consistent with Catholic teaching, Franciscan Tradition, academic excellence, and high levels of faith formation and achievement for the students.

The Diocese of Raleigh Curriculum Guide is intended for use in all Catholic elementary schools in the Diocese of Raleigh. It is the framework for instruction that assists teachers in identifying and implementing the appropriate instructional methodology in Grades K through 8. The curriculum outlines in detail the level of competency that is expected of students at different stages.

The curriculum is aligned to competencies identified in the North Carolina Standard Course of Study, national Standards, and Diocesan objectives and values. Copies of the curricular scope and sequence from Kindergarten through Grade 8 may be found on-line at the website of the Diocese of Raleigh (www.dioceseofraleigh.org).

Implementation of Course of Study

Teachers are responsible for curriculum-driven instruction, knowledge of grade-level curriculum, and awareness of the total Diocesan curriculum. The Principal and Assistant Principals are responsible for overseeing curriculum implementation.

Technology Education

Technology is integrated across the curriculum for grades K-8. While there are no formal weekly classes, teachers may reserve lab time, where there are 28 computers, to work on technology skills or projects. In addition to the main computer lab, there are iPads in grades K-2, portable laptop labs in grades 3-4 and Chrome Books for each student in grades 5-8. SMART Boards are located in every classroom K-8th grade and in the art, music and Spanish classrooms. Digital Citizenship and Online Safety lessons are required for all classes K-8 and follow the www.commonsensemedia.org curriculum.

Methods of Instruction

The methods of instruction used at TFS are in keeping with the needs of the individual students and the basic philosophy of Catholic education. These methods include, but are not limited to, small and large group instruction, cooperative learning, and hands-on activities.

Textbooks

Textbook selection is made by TFS based upon recommendations of the Catholic Schools Office.  Textbooks are in full conformity with Church and Diocesan guidelines. Each textbook selected supports the Diocesan-defined curriculum and Catholic Christian teachings.

Annual Awards

Each year at Commencement TFS recognizes the singular achievements of a few students whose unusual combination of gifts – and their sharing of those gifts –has made a particular difference in the life of this community.

The Franciscan School Citizenship Award

The TFS Citizenship Award is made to that 8th Grade student who, through his or her example and often quiet, behind-the-scenes leadership and good will, has made TFS a better place to live, work, worship, and learn.

The Franciscan Awards

The Franciscan Awards are made each year at Commencement to one 8th Grade boy and one 8th Grade girl for combining exemplary scholarship, leadership, citizenship, service and faith during their year or years at The Franciscan School.

Commencement

“To commence” means to start or begin, and comes from the Old French (‘comencer’) and Latin root “initiare”. The “Commencement” of each TFS class suggests that their faith journey and their lifelong journey of learning have only just begun. The TFS Commencement is thus a sending-out of 8th Graders who have met all TFS graduation requirements.

A full day of simple and dignified Commencement activities mark a rite of passage for the 8th Grade Class and for the entire Franciscan School community. Commencement is deliberately “backed up” against a weekend so that grandparents, extended family, and other special friends might stay in the Raleigh area a day or two longer and join with us in celebrating the accomplishments of our graduates.

On Commencement Day we celebrate a Baccalaureate Mass for the entire TFS community (all grades) in the Church. Parents, friends, and family of the 8th Grade Class are invited to attend. Attire at the Mass and during the day is school uniforms for all.

The Baccalaureate Mass is followed by receptions for the Class and for their families and guests. The traditional Awards Ceremony and clap-out of the graduates in the TFS Courtyard follows this reception. Parents and friends are welcome.

Commencement exercises, marked by the award of diplomas, are that evening in the Church. Students arrive at church early to line up and to prepare for the procession. Dress for Commencement is semi-formal – white shirt, blue blazer, and school tie for boys and white dress for girls. Details regarding both the details of Commencement Day and dress are sent to families in March.

It is a general expectation that a student must be in attendance at TFS for his or her entire 8th Grade year to receive a Franciscan School diploma.

Testing and Evaluation

Standardized Testing at the Franciscan School
2014-15 Testing Results

Each year the Franciscan School conducts a standardized testing program as part of its overall assessment of student learning and school programs. This testing program is approved by the Catholic Schools Office. The purpose of standardized testing is to assess ability and achievement. It gives a “snapshot” of a student’s academic progress on a particular day.

In the fall the testing includes the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS), which is administered to students in grades 3 through 8 and the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAt), which is administered to students in grade 5. In addition, 4th and 7th Graders take the Catholic Schools Writing Assessment in late winter.

How to Interpret ITBS Results

The National Percentile Rank (NPR) is the percent of students in a particular grade in the nation with a lower score on that test, total, or composite.

The charts below summarize the percentile rankings from each grade and component. These percentiles can help discern whether we are aligned to national standards of core curricula since it is compared to many other schools. You will see that our achievement on the whole compares very well to the national student and school percentile measures. Please take special note that our testing company has changed score categories and norming data for this year, which has a significant effect on the 2014 scoring, making the comparison from year to year extremely difficult until next year’s testing is completed for comparison.

Grade Equivalent Scores

GRADE 3                          ELA   EXT. ELA  Math       GRADE 4                          ELA   Math   SS  Sci

Nat’l Student Percentile   78           76           69          Nat’l Student Percentile   89       64     82  84

Nat’l School Percentile     92           91            74          Nat’l School Percentile     99       68     97  99

 

GRADE 5                         ELA    Math   SS     Sci          GRADE 5 CogAT          Verbal   Quantitative  Non- verbal  Composite

Nat’l Student Percentile  83       59       79     74          Nat’l Student Percentile    74               56                 63                 66

Nat’l School Percentile    98       60      94      91

 

GRADE 6                          ELA    Math   SS     Sci          GRADE 7                          ELA    Math   SS   Sci

Nat’l Student Percentile  79       58       73      72          Nat’l Student Percentile  88        71       78   73

Nat’l School Percentile    96       63       87      87         Nat’l School Percentile     99        81       94   88

 

GRADE 8                          ELA     Math   SS      Sci

Nat’l Student Percentile  81         71       73      76

Nat’l School Percentile    96        83      87      93
ELA = English/Language Arts (inc. reading, written expression, conventions of writing and Vocabulary)
Ext. ELA = Extended English/Language Arts ( inc. Word Analysis and Listening).
SS = Social Studies (Testing begins in 4th grade)
Sci = Science (Testing begins in 4th grade)

How does TFS use the Results?

TFS uses the ITBS and CogAt testing results diagnostically. That is, TFS does not teach to the test but rather lets the test “teach” us. We strive to be an exemplary school where students achieve to the best of their abilities. These results help TFS to identify testing strengths and weaknesses across subject areas over time.

 

The TFS administrative team and teachers will collaborate with the parents/guardians of the students with identified special needs. If a student cannot be accommodated within the school program, every effort is to be made to help with placement in another school program beyond TFS.

School Counseling

The school has a licensed counselor as a member of its professional staff. Counseling is available for students and families if and when the student is experiencing social, emotional, behavioral, and/or academic struggles at school.

TFS is committed to ensuring that all admitted students succeed. In the event that a learning style difference is identified through a psycho-educational evaluation by a licensed psychologist, TFS will make reasonable accommodations for the student. However, TFS neither modifies its academic requirements nor alters its general course of study to meet special educational needs. A list of the reasonable accommodations that TFS may be able offer is available for review from our School Counselor. For additional information on testing for possible learning style differences, parents should contact the School Counselor.

The TFS administrative team and teachers will collaborate with the parents/guardians of the students with identified special needs. If a student cannot be accommodated within the school program, every effort is to be made to help with placement in another school program beyond TFS.

TFS maintains professional working relationships with, and makes referrals to, a number of psychologists, psychological services, tutors, and learning specialists.

To request the service of the TFS Counselor, Laureen Wacenske, please contact the school office at 919-847-8205 ext. 255. Mrs. Wacenske can also be reached via e-mail at laureen.wacenske@stfrancisraleigh.org.