We are often asked about our stance on Common Core, and how it impacts us as a school. Horizon Prep will not adopt the new Common Core standards. We have composed a statement to help parents and prospective parents better understand the issue and our respective position.
WHAT IS COMMON CORE?
Common Core (CCSS) is often misunderstood as a new curriculum, when in reality, it is a broad set of recently established national standards designed to shape and govern general education standards and assessments in public schools. It is not curriculum. Many states, such as California, have added their own set of additional standards to the legislation.
The National Governor’s Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers initiated the new CCSS standards back in 2009. The standards aim to create a collaborative foundation across states and districts, eliminating the need for each state to have its own unique set of standards. Public schools are often encouraged, in the form of funding, to adopt these standards in an effort to create uniformity of standards and expectations.
In addition to new standards, Common Core also brings a new standardized test for students. Private school students are not bound by these tests. The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) is writing the new test, which will no longer include multiple choice or true and false questions. Sixty percent of the test will be performance-based tasks and the majority will be performed on computers.
SATs and ACTs are also being rewritten to align with the new standards. The architect of the Common Core, David Coleman, is the current president of the College Board and is redesigning the SAT, targeting the introduction of the new test format and content in 2015. The ACT is also being revised at this time.
COMMON CORE AND HORIZON PREP
While educational and instructional trends come and go, Horizon Prep remains committed to Classical education and to taking advantage of only those tools that support us in that mission. Horizon Prep has lived by this philosophy since our inception. We have always implemented a “best of” approach – keeping the best of a program while discarding the less desirable or ineffective parts of a set of standards or curriculum, all within the context of a Christian worldview.
At Horizon Prep, we are not limited to any state or national standards; they merely serve as the minimum requirement. Rather, our curriculum is built using a “best of” model – affording us boundless freedom to select and implement the best elements from the finest programs and models across the world. As a result, our program objectives well exceed those of our public school counterparts, regardless of what they choose.
In the fall, public schools in California will be mandated to implement the new Common Core standards while private schools have the option to implement them in whatever way makes sense for their curriculum and respective academic institutions as a whole.
Horizon Prep has a professional responsibility to be familiar with state and national standards, but our focus is on providing students a solid foundation for learning, using the Classical Education model, as well as preparing students for college and beyond. In a Classical model, our aspirations are higher, we pursue more than facts and trivia. Montaigne stated, “Good teaching will come from a mind well-made rather than well-filled.” Using the Classical model, we don’t view education as filling students only with content and facts, but rather a process of students learning how to learn. William Butler Yeats says it best, “Education is not filling a bucket, but lighting a fire.”
Horizon Prep does not intend to adopt the new Common Core Standards, and will thus be exempt from using the new state tests to assess satisfaction with meeting specific CCSS standards. With respect to college entrance exams, Horizon Prep’s college counseling department is committed to working closely with teachers and staff to ensure that our students are well prepared.
Textbook companies are under immense pressure to be able to stamp their texts with “Common Core” in order to accommodate public schools – their primary customers. Our curriculum is mapped to our standards, and we consider our textbooks to be “tools” that we use to meet our objectives; we do not consider our textbooks to be the curriculum in-and-of themselves. This is an important distinction. Thus, some of the texts we use may have a “Common Core” stamp on them, but this only represents that the publisher has ensured that all of the content has met the minimum standards, and should not create fear amongst our families. This in no way represents that we have subscribed to the Common Core standards across the board.
World Magazine Article: Uncommon Pushback | Russ Pulliam | Sept. 6, 2014