CDH Announces Partnership on Innovative Literacy Program

May 10, 2019


Cretin-Derham Hall is leading the way to improve literacy at all levels of education in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. CDH is one of three partners for the Exceptional Learners program, an innovative literacy-learning program that will be implemented in all Catholic elementary schools across the archdiocese.

The Exceptional Learners program has been designed by Groves Academy, a leader in literary research and special education. This innovative literacy initiative is designed to ensure all students are stronger readers during the critical formative early elementary years, benefiting their learning throughout life. All students will participate in the literacy program and all will benefit from this approach to literacy. For some students, this program will be essential for reading at grade level and closing the gap for at-risk students.

With a goal to eliminate illiteracy in all Catholic schools, literacy will become a competitive advantage for our Catholic schools. Research shows that effective literacy programs will enhance not only a student’s elementary years but high school and beyond.

This program was piloted in three local Catholic schools: Holy Spirit (St. Paul), Our Lady of Grace (Edina), and St. Peter Claver (St. Paul). The results were significant. For instance, 15 percent of Catholic school students (K-2) are not reading at grade level. In the first two years of partnering with the Groves literacy partners, 100% of Holy Spirit students were at or above grade level by the second grade. 

“This archdiocesan-wide initiative will strengthen our Catholic school system, and in particular, our CDH feeder system – specifically benefitting our students and families,” explains Frank Miley, President. “The impact will be felt at all levels –not only learning but future enrollment.”  

To that end, CDH Board of Directors unanimously approved the partnership between Cretin-Derham Hall, CSCOE (Catholic Schools Center of Excellence) and Groves Academy to launch this program across the archdiocese. Our partnership commits $1 million of financial support over five years.  The funds for this effort will come from special fundraising.  

In addition to the results-proven learning impact, Miley notes that the time is right to work together to reverse the downward trend of enrollment in Catholic schools. “I believe our Catholic schools must work together to strengthen our system. Our leadership with this innovative program will ensure its success for many years to come.”

Chair of CDH Board of Directors, Brian McMahon ’87 enthusiastically endorses CDH’s leadership on this innovative program because of the far-reaching benefits to all students. The Board is also confident that the financial investment needed for the program can be appropriately managed through non-operating funds. He emphasized,The financial commitment will not detract from dollars needed to maintain our excellent programming and staffing, or our generous level of student tuition assistance.

“This is a transformational initiative for our Catholics schools,” explained Gail Dorn, CSCOE President. “Partnering with CDH and Groves Academy means that all 79 of our Catholic PreK-8th-grade schools and 22,000 students will have the opportunity to be fluent readers at or above grade level by the time they leave 2nd grade.

According to CDH Principal, Mona Passman, this partnership directly aligns with our commitment to academic excellence. “I am proud that our partnership will be a bold move to improve literacy for all the Catholic schools in our archdiocese. It is not only a beautiful manifestation of our mission to educate all learners, but it specifically benefits our future students, who will come to high school better equipped for this level of learning.”

More information will be coming about the program implementation at the elementary level. CDH has also begun preliminary discussions with Groves Academy about curriculum and tutorial programs that will benefit CDH students.

Bishop Andrew Cozzens, Auxilary Bishop and CDH President Frank Miley, CDH Board of Directors Chair Brian McMahon '87, CSCOE President Gail Dorn, CDH Board Member Katie Stewart, CDH Board Member Michael Cole, and Archbishop Bernard Hebda at the CSCOE Bash May 11.

Exceptional Learner Program -  Partners

CSCOE – Catholic Schools Center of Excellence.

CSCOE is a nonprofit partner with 79 Pre-K – 8 Catholic schools in the St. Paul, Minneapolis Archdiocese, serving 21,000+ students. Formed in 2015 to address a 10-year decline of enrollment in archdiocesan Catholic Schools, CSCOE applies sound business models to address needs to increase excellence and enrollment.

Groves Academy

Groves Academy is a non-profit that transforms lives through education. With expertise in literacy, study skills and the process of learning, Groves is the center for literacy instruction, education, and advocacy in the Midwest.

Cretin-Derham Hall

As the largest Catholic high school in Minnesota, Cretin-Derham Hall provides an affordable, value-centered education, welcoming young men and women of diverse abilities, cultures and social-economic backgrounds. Cretin-Derham Hall is a co-educational high school, co-sponsored by the Brothers of the Christian Schools and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, committed to Christian values and academic excellence in grades nine through twelve.

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