Chief Academic Officer's Blog
Christian Education at New Covenant Academy
My wife and I had the exciting opportunity to watch our cross country athletes run at the state meet in Jefferson City back in November. It was a special day as our ladies won the Missouri Class 1 State Championship. At the meet the “veteran” cross country parents let me know that it was important for us to spread out across the 3.1 mile course so we could cheer on our runners at different stages of the race. They knew there were specific places (like Firehouse Hill) where that encouragement would be critical.
During our professional development days in November, I shared with our teachers encouraging comments we received through the family satisfaction survey. Those comments were greatly appreciated! We have all experienced a word of encouragement at a time when we needed it most. It is such a blessing. “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” I Thessalonians 5:11 Thank you for your commitment to Christian education and to NCA!
Mission: New Covenant Academy is a Christian college preparatory school committed to achieving Academic Excellence, teaching Biblical Truth and developing Christ-like Character“
One of the most frequently asked questions we have recently been receiving is in regards to how NCA views Common Core. When answering that question, I want to first preface that our goal for everything that we teach at NCA is that it is filtered through a biblical worldview. For example, while we use texts written from a Christian perspective, we also utilize secular textbooks that have been prayerfully and professionally identified by our team of educators as excellent resources to meet college preparatory goals at NCA. Employing techniques they learn in NCA professional development settings for Biblical Integration, our teachers can utilize various resources because they will be able to teach those secular resources from a Christian perspective. The same can be said about the Common Core Standards. While we have not adopted these standards we do reference them for reasons I will explain below.
Much of the information I will communicate comes from what the Association of Christian Schools International has sent out to its member schools. Common Core Standards are not comprehensive but more a list of guidelines for what a student should know or be able to do at each grade level. The positive aspects of these standards are their emphasis on thinking, reasoning, writing, and asking students to critically think.
Public schools have been told they must adopt the Common Core Standards and many have also been instructed on how they will teach them. As a private school we have the freedom to look at these standards and decide how we want to utilize them. We can decide what we want to use or not use. Being a college prep school most of our students will take the ACT to get into college. ACT measures college and career readiness. Per Sara Clough, Assistant VP in Assessment Design at ACT and Scott Montgomery, V.P. of Policy, Advocacy and Government Relations at ACT; in their educational article published in 2015 entitled: “How ACT Assessments Align with State College and Career Readiness Standards”; they noted: “Since ACT Aspire was under development prior to the release of the Common Core State Standards, ACT Aspire was not designed to directly measure progress toward those standards. However, since ACT data, empirical research, and subject matter expertise about what constitutes college and career readiness was lent to the Common Core development effort, significant overlap exists between the Common Core State Standards and the college and career readiness constructs that ACT Aspire and ACT measure.” (See complete article linked below)
Therefore as we prepare our students for college and this exam it benefits our students that these standards are referenced, and where we feel it is necessary, included in our instruction.
There has been a lot of political rhetoric regarding Common Core and I would say that almost all of the concerns that are raised do not really have validity in a Christian school setting because we can use what we feel is valuable and leave the rest. Regarding our textbooks, as aforementioned, we will utilize the texts that our teachers feel is best to meet our college preparatory goals. Unfortunately Christian textbooks are not always the best resources and when we utilize secular text books they will reference Common Core on the cover because of the many school districts that want to ensure they are using texts that are aligned with the standards. Please know It is important to note that this does not mean that we have adopted Common Core as our curriculum.
* link to Common Core, ACSI article