The Design for Excellence (DFE) is a Diocesan and State required accreditation process. It is comprised of a comprehensive self-study of the school's goals and how well the school's curriculum, student services, finances and facilities allow the school to achieve its goals.
After the school has completed the self-study, a team of educators, not connected with the school, visits the school to judge the validity of the self-study and to suggest avenues of growth. Schools which successfully complete this process are accredited by the Virginia Catholic Educators Association (VCEA).
This is a required process every 5-6 years mandated by the Diocese of Arlington, who also approves the scheduling of time for school employees to work in committees for completion of this endeavor.
If you have a question regarding this process, please feel free to contact Emily Stocker at [email protected].
Does this take away instructional time from my child's learning?
No, the Diocese of Arlington requires schools to meet instructional times regardless of the DFE process. STM has met or exceeded those standards each school year and will do so again this year.
Do parents participate in this process?
Yes! The DFE has specific portions that will collect parent and community input.
What happens at the end of the process?
The Office of Catholic Schools submits its successful peer review reports to the VCEA Accreditation Committee, who determines that the school is in compliance with VCEA guidelines, and awards VCEA accreditation to the school. STM will continue to improve upon areas of curriculum, student services, finance, and facilities using a new set of 5-6 year goals set in collaboration with the Visiting Team.
Why does this require early dismissals?
STM recognizes that it is difficult to have extra early dismissal days. Many of our employees are also parents of children in the school who also must find care for that time. We are pleased that the restriction on the number of students who can attend Extended Day is no longer in force as it was for the previous two years, which will give many families an option for care.
The DFE process permits schools to have a regular and weekly early dismissal. We have chosen to limit this in order to minimize impact on family schedules. Once the DFE process ends, early dismissals are limited to OCS required professional development days and holidays.