Implementing Common Core Standards in the Non-Public School— is it a Complement or Conflict?
There is an unsettling feeling rippling through the non-public school community: “the Common Core is going to somehow compromise my institution’s integrity and identity.” For faith-based non-public schools, Common Core implementation has raised a unique set of issues that have stimulated both discussion and debate.
The Common Core, as a new educational venture, is like traveling on a journey. The directions should be clearly mapped out with the intention of reaching your destination with the least amount of detours or road obstructions. The GPS that is used on your journey is: accurate information, reliable sources and common sense.
First and foremost there has to be an understanding of the Common Core’s intent. Non-public administrators and teachers need to familiarize themselves with the basic facts of what the Common Core is – and what it is not. The Common Core is not a curriculum. The fear that the Common Core will have a negative impact on a non-public school’s curriculum is unfounded. Accepting the Common Core does not mean that what is in place at the institution is broken or needs to be fixed. On the contrary it is a demonstrated commitment of wanting to move from “good” to “great.”
Rather than a curriculum, the Common Core is a collection of standards and expectations that guide the teacher to instruction that accents critical thinking and rigorous learning. They are a clear set of shared goals for what knowledge and skills will help students succeed. The long standing tradition that is equated with the non-public school in developing their own curriculum remains intact and is preserved.
The standards establish what students need to learn, but they do not dictate how teachers should teach. Instead, schools and teachers will decide how best to help students meet the standards. Thus the essence of a non-public school’s rooted values and traditions are neither in jeopardy nor compromised when implementing the Common Core. This is reinforced by the very nature of the implementation of the Common Core, namely that the decision of how and by what means the standards are to be met is decided locally.
What to learn more? Check out Dr. Andrew Ordover’s post Implementing Common Core Standards: Keys for Success
What is also important to note is that all educational materials, textbooks, standardized testing, and digital materials will now be using the Common Core as its basis—it is imperative that the non-public student be adequately equipped. We cannot isolate the students or have them excluded from traveling the road that other students from across the nation are preparing to embark upon. Non-public school students will be competing in the same educational arena; we need to make sure they are well prepared, that their competitive edge is just as sharp, and that they are kept in the loop.
Finally, for the non-public faith-based schools the approach to the Common Core is one of balance and prudence. It is not a matter of replacing or changing long held values, if anything it helps to complement and enrich what has been treasured and cherished.
The non-public school has the distinct and unique luxury to take the richness of the non-public schools’ values and traditions and align them with the Common Core State Standards. This alignment serves to enhance and support the long-standing values, which are deeply rooted in the school community’s traditions and mission.
The Common Core State Standards are neither obstacles nor impediments to the mission or vision of the non-public faith based schools. The standards do not challenge or undermine basic beliefs; the fundamental curricular programs in the non-public faith based schools are designed in concert with the respective tenets of the institution. This in turn guarantees the preservation of the non-public school’s essential identity, while at the same time upholding the schools’ continued pursuit of academic excellence.