Uncommon at the Core

Madison Academy Stance on Common Core Standards

Madison Academy is an accredited school through NCSA (National Christian School Association). A Common Core State Standards position statement affirmed by the National Christian School Association (NCSA), Christian Schools International (CSI), Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI), and Oral Roberts University Educational Fellowship/International Christian Accrediting Association (ORUEF/ICAA) is available at this link. Madison Academy, in our recent curriculum revision, has aligned itself with the recommendations for Christian school leaders and educators delineated on the last page of this document. I would encourage those interested on knowing our school’s position and practice in regard to the Common Core State Standards to review this article and to understand our adoption of NCSA’s recommendations.

In 2009, the National Governors Association assigned a group of educators the task of developing standards that would address the issue of high school graduates being unprepared for college. Most sets of standards that existed at the state level included a large quantity of standards.

The result of this group of educators’ discussions was what is now known as the Common Core State Standards Initiative (commonly called “Common Core”). This set of standards has drawn criticism across the country for many reasons. Yet, many standardized testing organizations (including Stanford Achievement and the ACT) have endorsed Common Core and will begin implementing Common Core into all of their standardized tests.

Currently, Common Core standards only exist in the disciplines of English Language Arts and Mathematics. Science standards are being developed. As of December 2013, 46 out of the 50 states have adopted Common Core. It appears that Common Core Standards are becoming the standards of choice in the United States. Every state, every district, and every school is different and has different needs.

Common Core State Standards (CCSS) represent what we appraise to be minimum competencies for our students at each grade level and were designed to assure a quality education across a range of public school settings. At Madison Academy, our students transcend these minimum competencies by aiming for higher standards–spiritually, academically, personally – than can typically be expected in most school settings. Due to our tight-knit faculty, excellent support from home, and the providential hand of the Lord, we have created a culture of excellence that we expect to continue to foster over time. Countless parents, families, and students have supplied positive anecdotal evidence that the education over time provided at MA has been extraordinary and unique.

At Madison Academy, our test scores have confirmed that students are consistently testing well above their grade level. In high school, we see students recognized as National Merit scholars as well as achieving ACT scores that exceed state and national averages.

Madison Academy cites student academic success at the college level as a result of supportive families and a very strong faculty.  As we see the world of education moving toward Common Core, we have to make a decision regarding our implementation of these standards. To ignore the reality of the impact of Common Core standards on curriculum, instruction, textbooks, and assessments and on our students would be shortsighted.

Common Core is not a curriculum. Curricular quality is not determined by a set of standards or a textbook. Qualified, well-trained Christian teachers determine curriculum. Our teachers will continue to utilize our chosen curricula as they always have- as tools in the context of a Christian worldview whether they are stamped with common core or not. Even though some of our textbooks may be identified as Common Core-aligned, MA will not be formally adopting Common Core Standards. We will have a “Common Core-informed” curriculum, but not a “Common Core-driven” curriculum. Madison Academy will remain aware of current trends in education and will use these standards as only informational pieces in determining how to best prepare students for success in the future as we have done in the past.

For MA, CCSS is a baseline not a benchmark for instruction.   Although MA has not pursued alignment with Common Core, we do use them as a reference to help us as we evaluate curriculum already in place to insure a quality college-prep education.  As a private school, we are not directly subjected to the standards of the Common Core, but we are accountable to the Lord, to families, and to students; and part of that accountability comes in the responsibility to prepare students for success on standardized and college entrance tests (ACT, SAT, AP, etc.) This approach assures that MA students do not experience a preventable disadvantage all the while being vigilant to not compromise a student’s faith or their education.

In closing, the teachers, administration and board fully intend to uphold the integrity of MA’s academic standards which will be preserved when evaluating CCSS, taking what is necessary to strengthen our curriculum towards academic excellence and yet keeping Christ at the center. MA embraces continuous evaluation of instruction and increased personal and shared accountability for raising levels of student achievement. Our ultimate priority is that we take root in our mission statement of providing a quality education in an Christian environment that will help our students grow in wisdom, in stature, and in favor with God and man.

Madison Academy CCSS Stance Table