The introduction of the Common Core State Standards has generated much interest and controversy in recent years. These standards, created at the initiative of governors’ and state school chiefs’ organizations, were released in 2010 and are written for each grade level K-12 in the areas of mathematics and English. Most states, including California, have adopted these standards.

The phrase “Common Core” has been used in a variety of ways, at times referring to the content of standards themselves, the way the standards are implemented in classrooms, and the standardized testing that measures student learning related to the standards.

Here is how those three aspects of Common Core are addressed at Big Valley Christian School:

First of all, BVCS has not adopted the Common Core standards for our students and has no plans to do so. While we certainly do consider a variety of educational standards (including those from the Common Core, state of California, College Board, and professional organizations such as the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics), we are not bound to any particular set of standards. We believe that the standards we set for our students meet or exceed those other standards and that graduates of BVCS will be fully trained in all core subjects and prepared to succeed in any college or vocational setting to which God calls them.

Secondly, the methodology used to implement Common Core standards is driven by local school districts and the schools that use those standards. Our teachers, however, use methods in their classrooms that they believe provide the optimal learning environment for all students. As trained professionals, they continually seek to use best practices and look for ways to teach so that student learning is maximized.

Thirdly, while we do choose to use standardized testing as a part of our overall evaluation process of how well we are educating our students, we do not use the Smarter Balanced Assessments or others that are linked to the Common Core standards. We use a variety of methods to assess how well our students are learning and how we can continually improve what happens in our classrooms.

Textbooks: Parents may notice that in some cases that a Common Core edition of a book is used in our classes. This generally happens because a previous non-Common Core edition was used in that class, and the only available newer edition was a Common Core one. Those editions have been carefully compared, and where there were only minor differences in the books, the decision was made to use the Common Core edition, provided that it met our expectations.

The mission of BVCS is to nurture and equip students to impact the world for Christ. Our vision is to glorify God by striving to reach the highest standard of Christian education. All educational philosophies, practices, and trends are viewed through that prism. To the extent that something helps us achieve our mission and accomplish our vision, we will prayerfully and carefully consider it, but in the end, our greatest benchmark is not the ideas of fallen men, but the eternal wisdom of God.