The following comes from an Oct. 9 story in Catholic San Francisco.

See “The federal takeover of Catholic education” (Cal Catholic, Oct. 16).

California Catholic schools superintendents are implementing the new national academic standards but with a big difference – Catholic schools’ mandate to teach the Gospel and Catholic principles of faith and social justice are integrated into the new curriculum.
“All we do in Catholic schools is within the context of our individual and communal relationship with Jesus Christ and all that is taught in Catholic schools is from a Catholic worldview and infused with strong Catholic identity,” said the 12 California Catholic schools superintendents in a statement.

The Catholic Common Core addition – a national project entitled the Common Core Catholic Identity Initiative –will give secondary and elementary school educators the tools to integrate Catholic faith into the Common Core, according to the statement by the Catholic schools superintendents.

The Common Core State Standards, accepted by 45 states including California, are the result of collaboration by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers that began in 2009. All California public schools are required to implement the Common Core standards.

All 12 California Catholic dioceses and archdioceses have chosen to implement the Common Core academic standards for English and mathematics in grades K-12, the superintendents said in their August statement. Since California enacted state education standards in 1997, Catholic schools have followed state standards but they have never been required to do so by law. They still are not, the superintendents said in their statement.

“While the Common Core State Standards were created primarily for public schools, we have concluded after much research, thought and discussion that the rigor and clarity they provide will benefit our Catholic school students and will allow them a better opportunity to excel at a high academic level,” they wrote.

The Common Core will be central to the college admissions process, including admission to the University of California, so assuring that Catholic school students can demonstrate that they meet those standards is important to their success, the superintendents said.

“We want our kids to be at the top of the class, able to take on the next step,” said Archdiocese of San Francisco schools Superintendent Maureen Huntington.

Archdiocesan schools have begun implementing the mathematics portion of the Common Core in the classroom and will begin studying the English language arts portion next year, perhaps taking as long as five years to put the new standards for English in place, Huntington said.

The Common Core approach is less textbook driven, will require more ability to read factual social studies and scientific texts, requires more writing and analysis, and also will include more practical applications of mathematics as well as greater use of digital and multimedia technology.

What Catholic school children learn will not change too much, said Huntington, adding much of the change will be in broadening the ways students can demonstrate what they learn to include more project and report based assessments….

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