NAPCIS exists to support schools that have chosen to operate as private entities: with autonomous educational philosophies, standards, pedagogical approaches, and curriculums. These schools exist as institutions faithful to the Catholic Church and faithful to passing on the Catholic faith to the children entrusted to them.
NAPCIS recommends that Catholic faith-based schools not use the Common Core State Standards as the foundation for their educational efforts. As faith-based schools we have a different mission than public schools. Because a school’s mission drives its standards and these standards drive curriculum, we should not simply use the Common Core Standards as our base and then make some adaptations. The Common Core State Standards are explicitly and only “college and career” focused. In stark contrast, our schools are focused on comprehensive human formation and assisting our students to encounter Christ and to pursue truth, beauty and goodness in all subject areas. In the context of this larger mission our students are also better prepared for college and life beyond. NAPCIS believes that our schools must set their own standards animated by their own unique mission. Complementing this mission, our standards will determine the appropriate instructional strategies, curriculum, and assessment for our students, as well as how our schools are evaluated.
With this said, we acknowledge that there is a substantial amount of acceptable secular material in the Common Core State Standards that Catholic faith-based schools can reference as part of their much broader educational efforts. Careful use of these acceptable parts of the Standards for reference, rather than whole scale replacement of our own standards, is a prudent response to the reality of the Common Core State Standards. However, we recommend caution in interfacing with parts of the Common Core State Standards, as the animating philosophies and pedagogies behind them have not yet been fully vetted by research and may not be appropriate for all subjects and all grades. At this early, untested and controversial point in American public schools’ first attempts at nationalized standards, we believe Catholic faith-based schools should use their own standards to ensure proven academic excellence and fidelity to mission.