How Do We Know If We’re Teaching Effectively? Authentic Assessment in Faith Formation

Assessment in Catechesis

When I speak at catechetical conferences, I try to sit in on other speakers’ presentations to learn and to see what’s hot and what’s not in the world of catechesis. I usually try to be a fly on the wall, but occasionally I feel compelled to ask a question. Once, I unwittingly and unintentionally brought a workshop to a screeching halt by doing just that! The presenter was a prominent figure in the world of catechesis (someone I admire and respect) who was touting an innovative approach to faith formation. Curious, I asked if the presenter had done any assessment to determine the effectiveness of this approach. Cue the crickets and tumbleweeds!

Too often, we in the catechetical world get excited about innovative approaches to faith formation without assessing the true impact of these approaches. In fact, for some catechetical folks, assessment is a “dirty word.” How can we assess what’s going on in the heart of a believer? While it’s true that we cannot scientifically measure the depth of one’s discipleship, we can and should be assessing the extent to which our catechetical approaches are effectively accomplishing what we hope they are.

We in the publishing world can create what we think are world-class resources—books and videos and more—but unless those resources are assisting catechists like you in truly achieving the desired effect of faith formation, we are collectively spinning our wheels. That’s why, in all of our resources at Loyola Press, we integrate authentic assessment tools—not to arrive at a grade for students to see if they pass or fail or “qualify” for a sacrament—but to determine the extent to which our faith formation is having the desired effect. Likewise, our assessments are professionally created so that you’re not just asking learners to parrot words they’ve read on a page.

I wrote about authentic assessment previously here on Catechist’s Journey and invite you to read that and to ask yourself: What am I/are we doing to assess the effectiveness of my/our catechetical efforts? and What might I/we be doing differently to improve the effectiveness of our ministry?

“World-class” resources are of little use unless they are helping you—the catechist—form world-class disciples of Jesus Christ!


Christ Our Life is the only program that is aligned with the Church’s mission for a New Evangelization, the NCEA: IFG ACRE assessments, and the Six Tasks of Catechesis.

About Joe Paprocki 2165 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.

2 Comments on How Do We Know If We’re Teaching Effectively? Authentic Assessment in Faith Formation

  1. Other than directing us to Loyola materials, what suggestions do you have for assessing learners’ cognitive, affective and behavioral growth in the faith?

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