Catholic school religious knowledge test: What’s so controversial?

The Toronto Catholic District School Board is piloting a new religious knowledge test for fourth grade students in order to assess the effectiveness of the religious education program delivery. This is not a test of students, but a test for the board. Yet, the Toronto Star thinks it’s controversial.

I don’t understand the objections to such an assessment.

The Toronto Star quotes Trustee Sal Piccininni:

Our faith is tested every day, with our morals and the way we live our lives. We don’t need to put pen to paper on that.

That’s nice. No one’s asking students to do that.

And John Podgorski from the Ottawa board says:

If I proposed it to my board, I don’t think it would go forward. The educational goals associated with religious education … are designed to draw forth some of the deeper questions about life, deeper values like your sacred dignity as a person, the value of friendship, family, community, justice in the world – those are the kinds of deeper questions posed through religious life programs.

That’s nice. I agree, those are the broader educational goals. How in the world does an assessment of the program undermine that?

There are some concrete things that kids ought to learn in a Catholic school through a religious education program. What are the sacraments? What is the significance of various Christian holidays? Who’s the pope? Can you recite the Lord’s Prayer? Things like that. These aren’t tests of character, faith or morality, but of curriculum. Going to a Catholic school, students are educated about the Catholic faith. The board is trying to get some feedback in the same way that the Ministry of Education gets feedback through its standardized tests.

What’s so controversial about that?

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