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The Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office of Catholic Schools Announces Its Students Maintained Learning Gains Despite COVID-19 Pandemic Challenges

Archdiocesan students did not fall behind in learning according to annual assessment exam

Chicago – (Feb. 1, 2021) – New data from Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic schools reveals that students have defied the national trend reflecting pandemic-related stagnation and decline in academics. Not only did archdiocese students meet academic expectations by staying on track with their learning, but an overwhelming number of them exceeded learning goals set out by the system’s annual i-Ready assessment exam. 

According to a national study released last month by McKinsey & Co., schools with predominantly white students who took the exam lost an average of one to three months of learning over the spring of 2020 closures, and schools with predominantly Black and Latino students fell further behind, losing three to five months. The study was based on analysis of data from the Curriculum Associates i-Ready platform and found that students in their sample learned only 67 percent of the math and 87 percent of the reading that grade-level peers would typically have learned by the fall of 2020.

In contrast based on the same Curriculum Associates i-Ready platform data, 7,382 students in Chicago archdiocesan schools, who took the i-Ready exam in the same fall-to-fall period, performed on average at 105 percent of the expected learning growth in math and at 130 percent of the expected learning growth in reading. The positive results were particularly strong among students from higher poverty backgrounds.

“These data confirm the success of the quick pivot to virtual learning our schools made last spring,” said Dr. Jim Rigg, superintendent of Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic schools. “The ingenuity, dedication and hard work of our educators ensured that students wouldn’t miss a day of class and that we could maintain the quality of our Catholic education.”  

Candice Usauskas, principal of St. Mary Star of the Sea School, located in a ZIP code that has been one of the hardest hit by the virus, said a key to her students’ success was the seamless transition to remote learning when the virus forced buildings to close last spring. 

“We had been monitoring the course of the pandemic and were nimble in shifting our focus to remote learning from the very beginning,” Usauskas said. “I’m really proud of the hard work of our teachers and our kids, but also of our parents who made sure students had the right learning environment in their homes.” 

Here is a sampling of archdiocesan schools and how they performed on i-Ready in the fall of 2020:  



Free and Reduced Lunch

Number of Students Tested on i-Ready


(% of Typical Growth Achieved)


(% of Typical Growth Achieved)

St. Celestine School

3017 N. 77th Ave. Elmwood Park, IL 60707

58% White

34% Hispanic

8% Other

17% of students in testing sample identified as English Language Learners (ELL)


181 (Math)

183 (Reading)




St. Christopher School

14611 Keeler Ave. Midlothian, IL 60445

36% Hispanic

27% Black

25% White


85 (Math)

84 (Reading)



St. Daniel the Prophet School

5337 S. Natoma Ave. Chicago, IL  60638

56% White

42% Hispanic

2% Other


361 (Math)

370 (Reading)



St. Mary Star of the Sea School

6424 S. Kenneth Ave. Chicago, IL 60629

95% Hispanic

3% White

2% Black

75% of students in ELL


100 (Math)

104 (Reading)