Trick or Treat?
In light of the fact that today is Halloween, I thought I'd spend a few moments writing about the Common Core standards that have been adopted by many states. Some people think they are an awesome treat, but others think they are a horrible trick being played on the young people of our country.
The idea behind having a set of common standards among the states so that all students being educated in our country are meeting the same minimal standards in various subject areas is a good idea. Standards are good things. A standard sets a goal to attain, a target to hit, an objective to meet. We all take on tasks with a desired outcome in mind, and do our best to achieve what we hope for. Standards in education are nothing new, but the common core is a new attempt to standardize the standards of the fifty states so that there is not so much variation from state to state.
The Common Core standards were not enacted by the federal government, but by state governments. There is much discussion about the content of the standards and what students will be taught as a result and if this flies in the face of traditional Judeo Christian values and the principles of government and economics espoused by the founding fathers of our country. At present, only public schools in states where the Common Core standards have been adopted are subject to them. Private schools like Greater Grace Christian Academy do not have to adopt or conform to the Common Core standards.
As I said before, standards are good things, and GGCA has chosen to adopt standards as goals and targets so that we can work toward improving instruction in our school. Like any good organization, GGCA has a mission statement and seeks to fulfill its mission by setting goals that we seek to meet and standards that we strive to exceed. We adopted a set of standards that have been around for a while from an organization called McREL. We liked these standards because they are adaptable to our school. They serve as guardrails for us to help keep us on the right road toward academic excellence. I liked these standards because they were general enough for us to modify them, and despite the secular bent of them (evolution and the non-creation origins of the universe are there for us to confront, but not teach as gospel truth), they are generally sound. Like everything in this world, we sift through these standards, like people panning for gold, and keep the truth (since all truth is God's truth) and discard the false. We mix in healthy doses of grace and Finished Work truth wherever and whenever possible so that our students get a biblical worldview.
A final reason why we have adopted a set of standards is that we are beginning a schoolwide curriculum mapping project. Our goal is to be able to show ourselves and our stakeholders what we teach, how we teach it, and how we assess if it being learned for every subject in every grade. Standards are a necessary foundation of any curriculum mapping project. We are fortunate that we have found a Christian company that has produced online curriculum mapping software that is affordable for private schools our size, and we plan to invite a consultant from that company to come to our school in the spring to help us learn how to map wisely. This is a huge step for our little school, and I am proud that our teachers are on board for this great endeavor. We are like the Little Engine That Could, but we are not saying, "I think I can." We are saying, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
Thanks for all your prayers and edification. No tricks here today. Being here at GGCA is just a treat, no, it's a blessing!