Frequently Asked Questions About Catholic Schools

Have a question for the Catholic Schools Office? Below are our most commonly asked questions. Not finding what you're looking for? Contact us.

How many schools are in the Diocese of Des Moines?

Diocese of Des Moines Catholic Schools is comprised of 16 schools. One birth-12th grade school, one high school (9th-12th grade) and 14 elementary schools (2YO, PS3, PK4, and K-8th grade).

Are there Catholic Schools near me?

Catholic schools in the Diocese of Des Moines are located in Ankeny, Council Bluffs, Creston, Des Moines, Harlan, Perry, Urbandale and West Des Moines. Find your nearest school.

Where can I get information about the closest Catholic school?

There are a variety of ways to get information. For example, call the school office, arrange to visit the school or attend an open house. Most schools hold an open house on the last Sunday in January. It's also a great idea to ask the pastor or talk with parents of currently enrolled students. Use our interactive map to find a Catholic school near you

Are the schools accredited?

Yes. All 16 Diocese of Des Moines Catholic schools are fully accredited through the state of Iowa and meet or exceed the education standards of Iowa Code section 256.11. Additionally, 1/3 of our schools are recognized asBlue Ribbon Schools of Excellence by the U.S. Department of Education. Learn more about accreditation here

Are all teachers licensed and endorsed to teach in their assigned area?

Yes, all teachers are licensed by the Board of Educational Examiners of the State of Iowa. All teachers must teach only in the areas for which they are endorsed by the State of Iowa. Our faculty also participate in continuing education and professional development annually.

What are the demographics for Diocese of Des Moines Catholic Schools?

Enrolled Students: 6,312

Faith Background
Catholic: 88%
Non-Catholic: 12%

White/Caucasian: 69%
Hispanic/Latino: 17%
Black/African American: 5%
Asian: 5%
Other: 4% 

How much are Catholic school fees and is tuition assistance available?

Tuition varies based on the school location. All of our schools provide opportunities for tuition assistance and no child is turned away for inability to pay full tuition. Tuition Assistance is available through the Catholic Tuition Organization (CTO), parish scholarships, individualized tuition plans, 529 accounts and more. In addition to tuition assistance, some families may qualify for Education Savings Accounts. Please contact your local Catholic school for more information. 

What is the Catholic Tuition Organization (CTO)?

CTO is a non-profit organization that grants tuition awards to families who need financial assistance. During the 2021-2022 school year, thirty-two percent of Diocese of Des Moines families received assistance from CTO totaling over $3.2 million. This generous support made a Catholic education possible for more than 2,000 students across the diocese.

What if my child has diverse learning needs?

Diocese of Des Moines Catholic Schools are committed to working with all learners to the best of our ability, including children who may require additional academic support. Schools throughout the Diocese of Des Moines have faculty endorsed in special education to meet the needs of diverse learners. Moreover, all faculty benefit from professional development designed to aide our schools in differentiating instruction to ensure academic growth and success for all students. Our ultimate goal is to ensure all students receive an education that leads them to discover their individual strengths and abilities in order to reach their God-given potential. 

Can anyone attend a Catholic school?

While the Catholic faith is integral to all aspects of school life, we welcome families of all faith traditions into our school communities.

How can parents be involved in their children's school experience?

Diocese of Des Moines Catholic Schools believe that parents are the primary educators of their children and encourage parents to be actively involved in their children's school experience. Our schools hold parent-teacher conferences twice a year and encourage parents to visit with their children's teachers as needed throughout the year.

There are many opportunities to volunteer within the schools and individual classrooms, as well as with special projects or field trips. Each school has a home-and-school association that supports the school and promotes communication between parents, administration, faculty, staff and students. Every school also has an active board of education.

Are students involved in service projects?

All of our schools value service to God and others. Our students discover servant leadership by participating in various service projects throughout the school year. Projects benefit a variety of Catholic charities, non-profit organizations and social causes. Contact your local school to learn more about the specific service projects available to students.

How is technology used in the classroom?

Diocese of Des Moines Catholic Schools are committed to research-based teaching strategies and innovative applications of technology. Desktop computers, laptops, iPads, tablets, interactive whiteboards and other equipment are integrated into the classrooms. Additionally, many of our schools actively integrate STEM curriculum and best practices into the student experience. 

Do all schools follow the same school calendar?

While all schools have 180 days in their school year in accordance with state accreditation guidelines, individual school calendars may vary. Please check with your local school for a school calendar and events.

Are extracurricular activities offered?

Yes. Schools throughout the Diocese of Des Moines offer opportunities for students to participate in numerous academic, fine arts, leadership, service, leisure and athletic extracurricular activities

What curriculum is used in Des Moines Diocese Catholic Schools?

Standards and benchmarks are used in each subject area to guide teacher instruction and student assessment. Students are assessed on these standards and benchmarks using a standards-based reporting system. Currently, Diocese of Des Moines Catholic Schools follows the Iowa Core mandated by the State of Iowa. Learn more about our curriculum. 

Do you schedule extracurricular activities to coincide with faith-based commitments? 

Our Diocesan policy for schools and parishes limits youth-oriented programs on Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings except for those related to sacramental, ministerial and/or catechetical endeavors. Read our policy.