Education
3:02 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Louisville Archdiocese Doesn't Blink as Catholic Scholars Denounce Common Core School Standards

Louisville's Catholic schools will continue implementing elements of the Common Core education standards despite pushback from a group of Catholic scholars.

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The Common Core standards change what students learn in English and math and have been adopted by 45 states—Kentucky being the first.

Last week, 130 Catholic scholars from around the country signed a letter claiming the standards do not adequately prepare students for college-level work and that they undermine Catholic education.

The letter sent to U.S. bishops requesting Catholic schools drop the Common Core standards or halt implementation.

But in Louisville it's already too late.

Kentucky was the first state to sign onto the standards in 2010. Last school year, Common Core was implemented in public schools for the first time.

The education system under the Archdiocese of Louisville revisits its own standards every couple of years—and Louisville Catholic school leaders often take note of standards adopted by the state, says Leisa Schulz, superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Louisville.

The Archdiocese of Louisville's schools  have already implemented elements of the Common Core standards, but that they have been adapted to fit the Catholic school mission, Schulz says.

“We have the ability to make those decisions and so we kept those portions of our framework that we thought we working for us,” she says.

The letter—organized by a professor at the University of Notre Dame—says the Common Core standards are a “recipe for standardized workforce preparation” and do not adequately prepare students for college-level work.

Common Core supporters argue against that point and say the standards include critical thinking skills and analysis that hasn't been included in the past.

In Louisville Catholic schools,  educators have used a collaborative process to pick which elements of the Common Core create more rigor in the best interest of student learning and what they believe prepares students best, Schulz says.

“I feel very confident about the process that we have used,” says Schulz.

One example where the Archdiocese of Louisville did not adopt a Common Core standard is with Kindergartners learning about shapes and patterns.

“It has always been our practice to expect that kindergarten students are going to be exposed to that and should be able to demonstrate their knowledge of, and proficiency in, patterns at the kindergarten level,” she says.

In another example, the Common Core standards say kindergartners should recognize many letters, while the Archdiocese of Louisville requires students to be able to recognize and write all letters, Schulz says.

But Louisville Catholic school educators recognize that other parts of the standards are important to student development, such as the ability to read different types of texts, she says.

While the Archdiocese of Louisville does not require students to read a certain percentage of non-fiction texts (like the Common Core), Shulz says, “we certainly are going to look at that and recognize that our students are interacting these days with a greater amount of non-fiction work.”

The emphasis of non-fiction in the Common Core standards was mentioned and criticized in the letter:

The sad facts about Common Core are most visible in its reduction in the study of classic, narrative fiction in favor of “informational texts.” This is a dramatic change. It is contrary to tradition and academic studies on reading and human formation. Proponents of Common Core do not disguise their intention to transform “literacy” into a “critical” skill set, at the expense of sustained and heartfelt encounters with great works of literature.

Shulz says the Archdiocese of Louisville will continue to emphasize literature and fiction-based works, while acknowledging the need to read informational texts too.

(Image via Shutterstock)