Toward Shaping the Agenda: A Study of Catholic Religious Education/Catechesis

Elford, George. "Toward Shaping the Agenda: A Study of Catholic Religious Education/Catechesis." Potomac, MD: Educational Testing Service, May 1994.

The Catholic Religious Education 2000 Study was designed to measure the extent to which Catholic religious education programs are achieving the goals that religious educators have set for them and to identify needed improvements. Toward Shaping the Agenda: A Study of Catholic Religious Education/Catechesis presents the results of the study conducted under the direction of Dr. George Elford. First, researchers asked, What Kinds of Persons Represent the Desired Outcomes of Catholic Religious/Education /Catechesis? Next, how effective are Catholic religious education programs? The third question researchers addressed was, What issues and problems need to be addressed by religious educators? Researchers also identified defining characteristics of contemporary Catholic religious education. Elford concludes with a number of provocative suggestions for improving Catholic religious education in the future. He argues that changing the name of the process to catechesis would emphasize that both parish programs and Catholic schools have the same goal, namely the inculcation of Catholic attitudes and practices as well as factual religious knowledge. Elford also emphasizes the necessity of setting standards for both catechist training, and interestingly, the resources, such as classroom equipment and professional support materials, that should be made available to each catechist. In order to fund such resources, Elford recommends charging "serious fees" ($250 to $500) for parish religious education programs. Finally, Elford advocates the establishment of a national catechetical resource and development center that could undertake projects clarifying the mission of Catholic religious education, developing new techniques, and coordinating attempts to take advantage of economies of scale.