Catholic Education Honor Roll

Program Overview:

Purpose of the Catholic Education Honor Roll

The Catholic Education Honor Roll (CEHR) is a national program recognizing schools committed to strong Catholic identity. Recognized schools commit to and model the Principles of Catholic Identity in Education.

Principles of Catholic Identity in Education

The Honor Roll criteria conform (since 2017) to the Principles of Catholic Identity in Education, which The Cardinal Newman Society has derived from Church teaching and guidance on elementary and secondary education. They are: Inspired by Divine Mission; Models Christian Communion; Encounters Christ in Prayer, Scripture, and Sacrament; Integrally Forms the Human Person; and Imparts a Christian Understanding of the World.


The Honor Roll is currently open for high schools teaching the Catholic faith that have been in existence for at least three years. The Honor Roll does not currently accommodate elementary schools, homeschool programs, or online schools.

Application Process

Usually a team of school administrators completes the application. The process will involve consultation with academic department chairs (if any), as well as discussion with the faculty, to ensure awareness of the process and expectations related to the Principles of Catholic Identity in Education. Application completion time will vary, but between 20-40 hours over a period of two to three months is not uncommon.

Applications can be submitted at any time. A $50 application fee is due when the school submits its full application. There is no fee for the pre-application process.

Honor Roll Recognition

Once approved as an Honor Roll school, a school receives a certificate of recognition good for five years. The school also receives a media resource packet to highlight recognition. Recognized schools find the positive publicity associated with the award a powerful way to increase reputation, enrollment, and donations. This nationally recognized status enables schools to tell not just their local populations but also colleges, universities, and a broad national audience that they excel as outstanding Catholic schools.

The Honor Roll does not publicize which schools are in the application process or which schools have been denied recognition.

The Catholic Education Honor Roll may revoke recognition status at its sole discretion.

Absence of Honor Roll Recognition

The Honor Roll process depends on a school’s voluntary application for recognition. The absence of a school from the Honor Roll list should not be construed to mean disapproval. It could mean the school did not apply, failed to provide adequate information, did not fully complete the application, was ineligible, or had some other obstacle to recognition.

Optional Resources

The Cardinal Newman Society has resources available to assist schools with enhancing Catholic identity.  Among them are:

–  Principles of Catholic Identity in Education: Questions for Reflection and Assessment. A summary of the Church teachings on Catholic education with further questions for self-assessment to strengthen Catholic identity.

–  Principles of Catholic Identity in Education: Faculty In-Service. A series of formative in-services and reflections for Catholic teachers based on five principles of Catholic identity.

–  Principles of Catholic Identity in Education: Board In-Service. A series of formative in-services and reflections for board members based on five principles of Catholic identity.

–  Catholic Curriculum Standards. A resource for educators to ensure that a Catholic worldview is appropriately integrated into all areas of academic instruction.

–  The Call to Teach: Expectations for the Catholic Educator in Magisterial Teaching. A booklet presenting Church teachings describing how educators fulfill their essential role as witnesses to the faith in word in deed.

– Faith and Morals Language in Catholic School Teacher Employment Documents: Best Practices Brief. A compilation of best practices in Catholic school employment agreements articulating the expectations of teachers in the areas of faith and morals.

–  Human Sexuality Policies for Catholic Schools. A resource guide responding to the need for faithfulness, clarity, charity, and integrity in policy issues related to human sexuality in Catholic schools.

Schools of Distinction

A select group of Honor Roll schools will be invited to serve as Schools of Distinction. These are model schools that agree to work closely with the Honor Roll program, assisting schools in best practices for Catholic education.


The Cardinal Newman Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and defending faithful Catholic education, manages the Honor Roll. In 2012, the Society inherited the program from the Acton Institute, which founded the program in 2004.

Concerns About Applicant Schools

All applicant schools are required to make their applications available for community input and review during the application process and before finalization of Honor Roll recognition. School community members are asked to communicate any concerns directly to the Honor Roll reviewers at that time. Copies of these concerns (with any identifying information removed) will be shared with the school administration.

Concerns About Recognized Schools

Accepting recognized status as an Honor Roll school commits the entire school community to upholding the Principles of Catholic Identity in Education. Concerns about failure to do this should be addressed directly to the school administration or the school board as appropriate. If concerns are conveyed to The Cardinal Newman Society, copies (with any identifying information included) will be forwarded to the school administration for their follow-up.

Honor Roll School Obligations 

Each Honor Roll school must post the Honor Roll certificate in a public place.

The school must annually update demographic and contact information.

The school must display the five Principles of Catholic Identity in Education on its website along with the most recently completed Honor Roll application.

School administrators are responsible for informing the Honor Roll if the school is no longer able to demonstrate full compliance with the Principles of Catholic Identity in Education.