Common Core State Standards
The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) have been highly reviewed, written about, politicked over, criticized and praised. As with so many initiatives and attempts to change and/or improve educational instruction in America, wading through the many truths and myths about CCSS can be quite a process. While I do not claim to be an expert on the construction of CCSS, I do have a distinct responsibility to inform our school community about our position with CCSS and how it impacts instruction at Capital Christian School.
Standards-based education has been part of American schools since the mid 1990’s. In California, the California State Content Standards have been used to provide a framework for standards of learning and assessment for all public schools and for any private schools electing to use them. They are currently used as the basis for assessing the progress of learning for K-12 students. Because of the emphasis on individual states creating their own standards, it has been difficult to measure schools against other schools, nationally or internationally.
While the Common Core originally sought to engage in broader educational reform, these content standards now only apply to the English language arts and math. No other subject areas of learning are covered in the CCSS. In addition, though there are federal dollars connected with states and their acceptance of the CCSS, no federal funding is attached to private schools nor is there any requirement for private schools to implement the Common Core.
It is important to understand that the Common Core is not a curriculum for a school to follow, nor is it a list of textbooks or literature that must be adopted. The Common Core is a set of standards by which we can measure student learning. These standards encourage critical thinking skills and a deeper understanding of content.
As we have researched and investigated CCSS, the following statements reflect our assessment and engagement of the Common Core:
- The CCSS are content standards of learning, not curriculum requirements.
- The primary areas of emphasis in the English language arts include a heavy focus on reading increasingly more complex text and reading an increasing amount of non-fiction versus fiction.
- The CCSS emphasizes critical thinking skills over memorization of facts in both disciplines (English language arts and mathematics).
- We are free to determine all books, pieces of literature and textbooks that support our curriculum as we approach these standards of learning.
- The College Board has begun to adjust their standardized tests (SAT, AP) to CCSS.
Our response to CCSS is, as it should be in every educational reform effort, a measured, Bible-centered approach. A biblical worldview will always be the foundation of the educational experience we offer our students. This foundation becomes the core in which to anchor content knowledge. With this structure in place, our faith can grow while experiencing increasing levels of academic rigor.
One of the challenges our students face is a society with an increasing reliance on the ability to communicate, collaborate, critically think, and bring content from a variety of disciplines together in solving real-world problems. The Common Core provides a framework for us to measure our students’ learning improvement on these essential objectives.
We will continue to evaluate our approach to learning within the context of the environment around us as we stay firmly grounded in God, His Word, and His design for this world. We are preparing our students with an excitement about their ability to be well educated and ready to transform the world for Jesus.