News reporters and political commentators have recently spent considerable air time and column inches either praising the Common Core Curriculum State Standards as a means of ensuring higher quality and more consistent educational standards throughout the United States, or criticizing the Common Core Curriculum State Standards as a politically motivated effort to force a liberal agenda on the financially strapped states eager to obtain federal education funding. In this context, we thought it important to share an Eastern Christian perspective on the Common Core Curriculum and the ways in which it is playing a role in the life of our school.
Wikipedia describes the Common Core Curriculum State Standards Initiative as the U.S. Department of Education initiative that seeks to bring diverse state curricula into alignment with each other by following the principles of standards-based education reform. The initiative is sponsored by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The Common Core State Standards have, to date, been adopted by 46 states.
As a private Christian school, Eastern Christian is not subject to any requirement to adopt the Common Core State Standards, nor is it adversely affected by any funding penalty that may be faced by public school districts that choose to not adopt the Common Core Standards. Eastern Christian School, under the supervision and authority of its Board of Directors, is solely responsible for the development of its curriculum. With the exception of very limited funding received for transportation, technology, textbooks, and certain services, such as nursing, Eastern Christian School does not receive support from our local, state or federal governments, nor do these governments determine the curriculum used in our school.
Eastern Christian School is currently in the midst of a comprehensive curriculum mapping project to document the precise scope and sequence of what is being taught at each grade level from K-12. We are using the Common Core Curriculum State Standards for Language Arts and Mathematics for benchmarking purposes, but retain complete discretion regarding our curriculum.
Other facts regarding Eastern Christian’s actual current practice in respect of the Common Core Curriculum and standardized testing:
- Curriculum mapping is a process of charting current curriculum practice and attaching the existing state standards to that practice for the purpose of evaluating and reviewing curriculum
- We use professionally accepted standards for comparison and contrast in our analysis
- We have set up a rotation of curriculum review through 2023
- Professional standards provide credibility for our high school diploma and for our graduates who apply to colleges and universities
- Common Core Curriculum State Standards only address English Language Arts and Mathematics standards.
- We are working on mapping our entire curriculum including Social Studies, Science, Bible, PE, Music, Art, and Technology using the accepted curriculum standards (including Christian Schools International standards) as a way to conduct a thorough and objective review of our curriculum practice
- Next Generation Science Standards have not been approved formally by New Jersey.
- We are using the New Jersey Core Curriculum Standards and Next Generation Standards in our mapping of our Science curriculum
- Currently we are familiarizing ourselves with the Common Core Standards by mapping our existing curriculum. We have not made any decisions about revising our curriculum in complete alignment to the Common Core State Standards.
- Cross-campus teams of teachers will be charged with analyzing, reviewing and recommending refinements to our curriculum.
- We have always held that we are in charge of making curriculum decisions.
- As a private school we have complete control of our curriculum and selection of texts and textbooks
- We will determine what will be taught at each grade-level based on our findings
- We have not used and do not plan to use New Jersey state standardized testing or the national testing planned for New Jersey public schools.
- In 2007 we decided to use Measures of Academic Progress testing which is the largest independent non-profit testing agency in North America.
- MAP testing allows us to test our students without setting a ceiling to their achievement.
- MAP tests are about learning growth not proficiency. The results cannot be used to determine proficiency.
- MAP testing results are completely under our control. We are the only ones who use the data. There is no relationship with the government.
- As a faith-based school we do not receive state or federal funding based on student performances on standardized testing. We do not forward our test scores to the state or to the federal government.
- Common Core Curriculum State Standards
- Do not dictate content such as titles of books or textbooks. Teachers and schools are free to select the content used to address the standards.
- Do set benchmarks for a way to measure student mastery
- Do attempt to set guidelines that address existing flaws in state standards that try to cover it all. Existing NJ state standards in Language Arts and Mathematics lack depth in favor of coverage. These standards have been found to be impossible to cover as they currently exist.