Does CVC Do Common Core?
By Larry Baker, CVC Superintendent
That question isn’t asked every day by potential new families, but it’s asked often enough to justify a few words of response. The short answer to the question is “No.” In fewer than a thousand words, let me try to explain.
“Common Core” or The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is a result of a joint effort of two national organizations attempting, once again, to form a list of standards for schools to use in preparing students for college and the workplace. Most states, including California, have accepted the CCSS as the standards that will guide the state (public schools) instruction. Public schools run the risk of losing federal assistance if they do not adopt the standards proposed. As a private Christian school, we do not receive federal dollars, so we have no obligation, or compulsion, to adopt the standards.
In my career as an educator I can think of other initiatives that public schools had to adopt that drastically changed the content of instruction, as well as the way that instruction was delivered. Back in the Reagan administration there was A Nation at Risk. Then, in the 80s and 90s, the talk was all about Outcomes Based Education. That was followed by No Child Left Behind. Now we have Common Core. I think all of those initiatives came with good intentions. In the global picture, the United States is no longer leading the world in academic performance. In many schools across the country, children are not being prepared well for life after high school. So, holding all public schools accountable for meeting minimum educational standards is a good thing. Parents need assurance that their children are being prepared and will be able to compete with students around the country for college admissions, scholarships and good jobs.
At Central Valley Christian, we pay attention to national standards, state standards and, now, the Common Core. I believe we would be foolish to ignore such things. Smart people, and excellent educators, developed those standards. So, we do well to research and learn what they suggest. On a practical note, we know that standardized tests, like the SAT and the ACT–tests used for college admissions–will adjust to reflect the standards that schools are striving to meet. Our students take those tests and we have an obligation to position our students to perform well on them. In addition, our students are accepted into colleges and universities and, when they attend, will be sitting alongside classmates who have attained those minimum standards. They will sit in front of professors who have those minimum expectations.
At CVC, however, we don’t just blindly adopt everything the state or the federal government puts out. I believe we are held to a higher standard. While the folks who developed those standards are intelligent and gifted educators, they are not all Christians. As with everything else, we have to view the Common Core and the standards it lays out through the lens of the Bible and a Christian worldview. When we discover things that do not line up with God’s call in our lives, we do not adopt it as part of our curriculum or accept it as excellent teaching practice.
“Even more important than preparing [students] academically, God has positioned this school to prepare them to advance His kingdom.”
As I mentioned earlier, in my years in education, I’ve seen a lot of fads come and go. Some provided good ideas and better ways of doing things, but almost all of them eventually faded. One thing that I have noticed, however, in the four or five different Christian schools for which I’ve worked, is that the expectation bar of student performance in Christian schools is higher than the bar that any state or federal agency will ever set.
In summary, here is how I look at this topic of standards and expectations. We have a kindergarten class of 66 students at Central Valley Christian. Included in that class list are some boys named Landen, Dylan, Lincoln and Jace. We have some girls named Allison, Jessica, Bryn and Leah. God might very well have a plan for some of those children to someday perform brain surgeries, do herd checks, build space stations, or design cell phones. God has positioned this school to join Him in preparing those students for the work He has planned. So, we have to provide an education that will get those kids into the right colleges and graduate schools. But even more important than preparing them academically, God has positioned this school to prepare them to advance His kingdom. He doesn’t want just any neurosurgeon; he wants a surgeon who understands that we are wonderfully made in His image. He wants engineers, veterinarians, accountants, dairymen and lawyers who recognize Jesus as Lord and who worship a God who expects their work to bring Him the glory He deserves. We have a higher calling, a higher standard.
A few weeks ago, the teachers of CVC were given a survey from the marketing department. One question on the survey was, “If CVC did not exist in this community, what reason would we have for starting it?” I believe there is a critical need in this community for a school like ours. We don’t just need a welcoming community and a safe school that will meet the minimum standards listed in the Common Core. We need a school that seeks, in every way possible, to serve God, glorify Him, and join parents in raising young men and women able to advance His kingdom in all areas of life. With that goal, we will leave Common Core in our dust.
Looking for more info on CVC’s rigorous academics and robust programming? Contact us at email@example.com or give us a call: 559-734-2684.