Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 31, 2000
Calgary students struggle with test on the Mass
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
Catholic students' poor knowledge of Sunday Mass should serve as a wake up call for schools, parents and the Church community, said a school official.
"It's a wake up call for all of us," said Denise DeNeve, supervisor of religious education and family life with the Calgary Catholic school district. "To find new ways to provide this to our students.
"There's theory and then there's practice. (Students) also need that practice."
More than 45 per cent of the students failed the Mass component of a religious education assessment test. The test was given to Grade 5 students in the Calgary Catholic school district last June. Students, however, received high marks on the prayer component with an average of 91 per cent.
The test covered topics as oral prayer, profession of faith, sacraments, family life, the Holy Land and the Mass. The district would not release details of questions asked on the test.
Similar assessment tests are also given to Grade 12 students. A Grade 8 test is in the works.
No such assessment tests are administered district-wide in Edmonton Catholic schools, but Father Stephen Wojcichowsky, coordinator of religious education, said his office has been looking at similar testing strategies.
"The reason (for such tests) is to look at how the content is organized," Wojcichowsky said. "We get a lot of inquiries about the (religion) programs. . . . This is a way to answer some of those inquiries."
Wojcichowsky said topics such as the ones in the Calgary tests are woven throughout the religion program from kindergarten to Grade 12. Such assessment tests would help to determine how far students have advanced in their religion classes.
DeNeve said she was surprised with the poor results of the Mass component because there is an assumption that many of these children attend Mass not only during school time but also with their families.
A Statistics Canada survey released last year showed that 22 per cent of Catholic children across Canada attend Church weekly, 18 per cent going monthly and 29 per cent do not go at all.
But Wojcichowsky said how well the students did on the Mass questions is not necessarily related to whether they attend Mass.
Attending Mass does not translate to understanding the Mass itself, he said.
"There are certain expectations in what you can expect in the way of knowledge and in what you can regurgitate out of memory."
DeNeve and Wicichowsky also said such testing is a measure of knowledge.
"Results of this kind of testing is also a matter of interpretation. We wouldn't want people to think we're testing their faith," Wojicichowsky said.
DeNeve added, "When we're assessing religion, we're looking at the knowledge aspect of it. We can't test (the faith). That's from within."