Trinity Academy Position on Common Core Standards

Common Core State Standards is a joint effort between the U.S. National Governors Association (NGA) Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). It is misunderstood as a new curriculum when in actuality, it is said to be a new, more rigorous broad set of national standards to shape and govern the general educational standards and assessments in public schools. Standards guide and curriculum is what is taught. Curriculum is often comprised of a variety of materials including an anchor program (such as our Macmillan Mc Graw series) and supplemental materials from a variety of resources to support the subject that is taught.

At Trinity Academy we aim to exceed state and local standards by providing a higher and broader level of learning, content, biblical knowledge and expectations within the context of a Christian World View and the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod foundation, considering the state and national standards to be a minimum. It is important for our staff to have an understanding of the Common Core Standards as many of the Wisconsin State Standards are embedded in these newly adopted standards. After research, if we believed a standard was more rigorous, exceeded our goals for instruction and was in alignment with our school core values, then we would consider implementing that standard. We would not blindly adopt the entire document of Common Core Standards.

According to the WI Department of Public Instruction the following content area state standards that were written in 1998 are still in effect for our state: social studies and science, Model of Early Learning (revised 2013), health (revised in 2011).

Curriculum: Beginning in 2006 through 2010 our school aligned our curriculum with the Wisconsin State Standards and the National Standards for the academic subjects listed above along with language arts and math. We continue to use those guidelines as a baseline guide for math as minimal expectations while holding our students to a higher standard. The curriculum that we choose to use at Trinity Academy is thoughtfully selected by our staff, reviewed and adopted by our School Advisory Board with consultation from our pastoral staff. Following the WI adoption of Common Core Standards for English our school completed extensive research and Trinity Academy has adopted the Standards for Knowledge and Skills for English Language Arts and Reading which are a reflection of recommendations from the National Council of Teachers of English and are based upon those said standards and the Essential Knowledge and Skills standards from the state of Texas. The reading strand is structured to reflect the major topic areas of the National Reading Panel Report  This new Macmillan McGraw Hill curriculum we chose is the best fit for our students, keeping in mind our high expectations. Our math curriculum was adopted in 2004 and chosen for its more traditional approach to math, staying away from “everyday” math that many schools had adopted. Currently it is not available on the Macmillan McGraw web site as it is a 2004 edition but the newest edition would be Math Connects. Our social studies curriculum, Social Studies Alive, was adopted in 2009 and produced by TCI, Teacher Curriculum Institute. It was chosen for many reasons such as the hands on activities, and the section on families that is taught aligns with our core values.

We are not changing any of the curriculum/materials we currently use nor have we done any changes to our teaching to intentionally align with Common Core. You may see “Aligned with Common Core” on some of the newer editions of text books and on some of our supplemental materials. Do not be confused, there is marketing to be done by the publishers and so the statements become a part of the purchase. It is hard to find materials without these statements printed.

Assessments: Common Core Standards bring a new standardized test for students, the Smarter Balanced Assessment, which we are not implementing. Trinity Academy Staff and School Advisory Board made an informed decision to adopt the IOWA Basics (Riverside Publishing, Houghton Mifflin, Harcourt) as the choice of school wide assessment. The advantages of this recently re- normed exam are the following:

  • Monitors Growth using a continuous researched-based vertical scale to accurately measure academic growth K-12. Trinity Academy will begin assessments at first grade.
  • Test items are aligned to one of three cognitive difficulty levels providing an additional view of student achievement. (Essential Competencies, Conceptual Understanding and Extended Reasoning.)
  • Does not require a computer based platform, students will use paper/pencil scoring.
  • Local scoring through an agreement with Lutheran Schools and University of Minnesota allows for return of results months earlier than when using state exams mandated for public schools. Thus using the data to plan instruction or make adjustments for students as needed based upon the individual results will happen earlier in the school year.  Reports proficiency of standards (Common Core and State). It is important for Trinity Academy to understand how the students measure up with these standards, although they are not adopted by our school. It is important as the ACT and SAT will soon be aligned with Common Core Standards.
  • IOWA Basics states they are the only assessment that “begins evaluating student preparedness for the ACT/SAT in Grade 6-two years before any other existing assessment system. “
  • Allows for longitudinal data to track student’s success over time.
  • Measures the growth and understanding of the individual student in all subjects (language arts, mathematics, science, social studies and reading), which is our primary concern.

In summary, if you have any question about materials that are being taught please discuss your concerns with your child’s teacher first, and if you are not satisfied please see the school principal. Trinity Academy currently has a policy and a procedure for challenged materials if needed.