ALCS and Common Core

Alta Loma Christian School is committed to providing the finest educational program available, including excellent academics. Accordingly, we monitor various educational trends in curriculum and assessment, and continually review state and national education standards. These are evaluated in light of our academic objectives, biblical values, and comprehensive mission as an accredited private school.

We routinely receive questions from parents regarding the sweeping national education standards known as Common Core State Standards (CCSS). It is important to understand that CCSS are intended to be a quality check for secular education, a bar below which public schools are not to fall.1 Private Christian school students in the U.S. (including California) have far-outpaced their public school peers in academic performance for over 50 years, long before the arrival of Common Core.2,3 The curricular materials used by ALCS that are from Christian school publishers meet or exceed nearly all Common Core content standards. Because these materials are academically excellent, the standards already tend to match our Christian-publisher textbooks, not the other way around.4,5 Thus, our use of CCSS is highly selective. A number of CCSS address only the minimum requirements and may be one or more grade levels below what we recognize as good teaching.6 As a school, we do not limit ourselves to the level of the standards but go beyond, based on our Christian philosophy of education and sound teaching practices. In other words, the curricular materials we currently use—and are in the process of continually implementing—exceed CCSS in age-appropriate instruction and academic rigor.7,8

The academic integrity of Christian schools—including Alta Loma Christian School—has been validated by the success of hundreds of thousands of students over the decades. Historically, students instructed at accredited Christian schools with curriculum developed by Christian educational publishers consistently score above national averages on standardized tests and college entrance tests.9

While it is advantageous (and part of our accreditation requirements) to be informed by educational trends and performance data that might impact our students in significantly beneficial ways, it is not our practice as a Christian school to adjust or change our curriculum or instructional methodology simply to conform to every new reform proposed by academia. Reforms for improving student learning and performance—that are backed by compelling data—will always be prayerfully considered at ALCS; that is a sign of responsible and professional educational leadership. We will continue our commitment to select curriculum and employ teaching strategies that provide our faculty and students with the most effective, God-honoring tools they need for both academic and personal success.

NOTES:
1. BJU Press. (2016). Academic Excellence: BJU Press and the Common Core. Retrieved from http://www.bjupress.com/resources/common-core-standards/
2. Pennings, R. et al. (2011). Cardus Education Survey: Do the motivations for private religious Catholic and Protestant schooling in North America align with graduate outcomes? Hamilton, ON: Cardus
3. Kienel, P. A. (2014). A special message to Christian leaders about Christian school education. Riverside, CA: Dr. Bonnie G. Metcalf School of Education, California Baptist University.
4. A Beka Book. (2016). A Beka Book and Common Core. Retrieved from https://www.abeka.com/Resources/CommonCore.aspx
5. BJU Press. (2016). Academic Excellence: BJU Press and the Common Core. Retrieved from http://www.bjupress.com/resources/common-core-standards/
6. Ibid.
7. A Beka Book. (2016). A Beka Book and Common Core. Retrieved from https://www.abeka.com/Resources/CommonCore.aspx
8. BJU Press. (2016). Academic Excellence: BJU Press and the Common Core. Retrieved from http://www.bjupress.com/resources/common-core-standards/
9. A Beka Book. (2016). A Beka Book and Common Core. Retrieved from https://www.abeka.com/Resources/CommonCore.aspx