Catholic elementary schools were founded primarily as parish schools after the Council of Baltimore in 1884. For over 100 years these schools were conducted by various religious orders of men and women.
The purpose of the Catholic parish school was primarily to teach the Roman Catholic faith. The second purpose was to develop an academic curriculum that would be permeated with the values taught in the Roman Catholic Church.
To operate as a school in the State of Washington, private entities are obligated to meet basic academic, health and safety requirements as set forth by the Legislature and monitored by the State Board of Education. This process is called APPROVAL. Over the years, it became important to also guarantee the parents and the parish that the elementary school was academically sound and spiritually formative for its students. School ACCREDITATION was a means to that end.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s the Western Catholic Educational Association came into being with its emphasis on the Catholic identity of the school as well as its academic program. Today most Catholic elementary schools (both parish and private) in nine western states are accredited by via the WCEA process.
Each member diocese has both an elementary school and high school Commissioner. It is the responsibility of the respective commissioners to assist the school community in the preparation of a Self-Study Document using an approved protocol. For elementary schools, this protocol is titled the Process for School Improvement.
The protocol is criteria-based and leads the school to examine specific aspects of school life and the extent to which the criteria are currently being met. The school community then prepares for a three- day visit by an accreditation team composed of educators who are trained evaluators from other schools with educational expertise.
Using this process, St. Madeleine Sophie School became fully accredited for a six-year term on May 8, 2013.