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Catholic Schools Not Improving Under Common Core

The Nation’s Report Card1 administered by the U.S. Department of Education reveals stagnant and even slightly declining test scores among Catholic schools since 2013, when many embraced the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

Public schools also are showing no marked improvement, which is not what many had claimed would result from “internationally benchmarked” and globally competitive standards.2

With more than 100 Catholic dioceses implementing the CCSS to some degree3 in Catholic schools, it’s worth taking a look to see how Catholic schools are faring.

NAEP Assessment Results

Catholic schools are one of the largest private school groupings in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) data collection, perhaps because their involvement is encouraged by the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA). The NAEP was last re-worked in 2009 and was never re-aligned to the Common Core, so it is a good measure of pre- and post-Common Core achievement.

Historically, Catholic schools have scored well above public schools in both 4th and 8th grade reading and math,4 and they continue to do so. Over the last two decades, reading scores have averaged 19.5 points higher for 8th graders in Catholic schools and 16.1 points higher for 4th graders. In math, Catholic schools have scored 12.7 points higher in 8th grade and 7.6 points higher in 4th grade.

The scores of both public and Catholic schools have remained largely stable over the past 8 years, with a small decrease in Catholic school scores that slightly narrows the gap with public schools.

(Sources: MathReading)

(Sources: MathReading)

This isn’t what was supposed to happen, is it? Neither public nor Catholic schools experienced the upswing that was promised by the authors of the Common Core Standards. Public school scores from 2009 (pre-CCSS) to 2017 (post-CCSS) are relatively the same and are categorized in the “basic” range on the academic standards scale for the NAEP, whereas Catholic school 8th grade math scores have slid three points in the pre-test/post-test scenario (297 in 2009 to 294 in 2017). Interestingly, the cut-off for “proficient” according to the NAEP literature is a score of 2995, leaving Catholic schools that much more to attain before reaching the mark. Meanwhile, the opportunity costs are unknown. Perhaps Catholic schools’ 8th grade math and reading scores might have continued their positive upward trend before the onset of the CCSS.

As for international benchmarking, the 4th grade U.S. scores in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS) remained the same in 2015 at the internationally low benchmark.6 The 8th grade TIMMS scores went up,7 but they are still at the internationally low benchmark.8

In reading, scores for U.S. 4th grade students on the Progress for International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) have declined from 556 in 2011 to 549 in 2016 (the most recent year for scores).9 The United States is currently sitting in 15th place in reading achievement for 4th graders, down from 6th place in 2011.10

Common Core and Catholic Schools

What the test scores don’t measure is the loss to Catholic identity when Catholic schools conform to secular school standards that fail to consider essential differences in faithful Catholic education.

Recognizing that the CCSS would drive textbook publishing, teacher preparation programs, state assessments, teacher professional development11, and college-entry exams12, the NCEA encouraged Catholic schools to adopt the CCSS as they saw fit or as they were compelled to do, based on state and accreditation requirements.

But with parent concerns rising across the country and Catholic parents wondering why Catholic schools were using the same academic standards as public schools, The Cardinal Newman Society launched Catholic is Our Core13 in 2013 to evaluate the CCSS and counter many of the dangerous and progressive claims advanced by Common Core proponents.

In December 2013, the Newman Society expressed serious reservations14 about the use of the CCSS in Catholic schools, especially since historical data for Catholic high school graduation and college attendance was consistently outstanding and there seemed no need to work from standards designed primarily to raise academic achievement of students in the lower national quartile.

Moreover, the utilitarian underpinning of the CCSS stands in stark contrast to the full flourishing of the human person, as promoted in Church documents on education. Children and young adults are not to be viewed as components of an economic machine to be manipulated and directed toward labor slots in manufacturing15, as some would like. An impoverished view of the human person, which pervades society, is not how the Church has traditionally approached Catholic education. To take on such limiting constraints is unworthy of the dignity of the educational institution.

In 2014, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a statement recognizing the limitations of the CCSS for faith-based formation:

Catholic schools must consider standards that support the mission and purpose of the school as a Catholic institution. Attempts to compartmentalize the religious and the secular in Catholic schools reflect a relativistic perspective by suggesting that faith is merely a private matter and does not have a significant bearing on how reality as a whole should be understood. Such attempts are at odds with the integral approach to education that is a hallmark of Catholic schools. Standards that support an appropriate integration should be encouraged.16

Embracing subsidiarity and local decision-making, the USCCB directed that each bishop, along with their education leaders, decide whether to adapt, adopt, or reject the CCSS. About 33 dioceses17 announced they would not use the CCSS, preferring to retain their already workable standards and curricular frameworks. Most of the others, though, chose to work with the Common Core in some fashion.

Today, we can see the wisdom of the Newman Society’s warnings against the rapid adoption of CCSS in Catholic schools, “a mistake that will be difficult or impossible to undo for years to come.” The NAEP scores suggest that the Common Core comes with empty promises, and it may in fact hinder progress toward excellence in both public and Catholic schools.

 

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Resources for Implementing the Standards

Blog Posts

The Transcendental Taxonomy and Catholic Education  Jan 2, 2018, Rubicon – more information on using philosophical questioning in all disciplines

Teaching and Assessing Dispositions In Catholic Curriculum Dec 27, 2017, Rubicon

Understanding and Implementing Catholic Curriculum Standards July 5, 2017, Rubicon

History and Implementation of Catholic Curriculum Standards

Webinar with Rubicon International and Diocese of Lansing, MI

Key Insights into the Catholic Curriculum Standards

Webinar with Rubicon International  – This webinar discusses the underlying philosophy and use of the transcendentals of truth, beauty, and goodness embedded within the Catholic Curriculum Standards and shows how the transcendentals can serve as interdisciplinary threads between content areas and academic disciplines. Assessment of these concepts is discussed. (Must register first.)

Examples of integrating the Catholic Curriculum Standards

Diocese of Venice – Video of Most Rev. Bishop Frank DeWayne explaining new updated K12 standards which include the Catholic Curriculum Standards

Diocese of Joliet – K-8 Standards using English Language Arts, Science, Mathematics, and Social Science

Diocese of Owensboro – K-12 Science Standards using Catholic Catholic Standards and Resource material

Diocese of Grand Rapids – Adapted the Catholic Curriculum Standards to their ELA, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies standards

Policy Resources

Literature, Library, and Media Guide

Holistic Rubric for Selecting Literature in a Catholic School

Selected Reading List for K-12 Schools

Sample Lesson/Unit Plans*

Scientific Topics 6-8

English Language Arts 7-10

Mathematics

History

Transcendental Taxonomy

Taxonomy of Education Objectives – Affective Domain

*These can be adapted to individual lesson plan templates.

Teacher Formation Readings

Below are a series of readings that teachers might undertake to develop a deeper and richer understanding of the philosophical approach embedded within the Catholic Curriculum Standards. They are listed in order with the most general article describing the benefits of the integration of philosophy within the educational program (1) moving next to a brief explanation of the five Transcendentals: Perfect and unconditional Truth, Love, Goodness (Justice), Beauty, and Being (Home) (2), a brief history of western philosophical teaching on the transcendentals by Augustine and Aquinas (3) and a call of how these transcendentals lead us to Jesus, as God, and the Word (4). Adler provides the philosophical framework for understanding truth and beauty (5), and then finally Saint John Paul II’s Fides et Ratio (6) expounds on objective truth and reality.

At some point within a Catholic school teacher’s career, a wide-spread and thorough reading of the Church documents on education can be undertaken (7).

  1. Kreeft, P. (Jan. 2015). “It’s About Navigating Life: The Importance of Philosophy & Theology.”
  2. Spitzer, R. (2011). “Appendix: Evidence of the transmateriality of human beings” in Ten Universal Principles: A Brief Philosophy of the Life Issues. Pgs. 123 – 139.
  3. Turley, S. (2014). Awakening Wonder: A Classical Guide to Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. Camp Hill, PA: Classical Academic Press. Chapter 4. Overview of western philosophical teachings on the transcendentals.
  4. Caldecott, S. (2012). Beauty in the Word. Tacoma, WA: Angelico Press. Pgs. 133-136 and 153 – 160.
  5. Adler, M. (2000). The Great Ideas. Peru, IL: Open Court Publishing. Pgs. 1 – 10 on Truth and Pgs. 153 – 162 on Beauty.
  6. John Paul II, (1998). Fides et Ratio, #28 – 93.
  7. Church Documents for School Teachers: Annotated Bibliography
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Educating to Truth, Beauty and Goodness

Editor’s Note: The following essay appears in Appendix A of The Cardinal Newman Society’s Catholic Curriculum Standards.1

The world, in all its diversity, is eager to be guided towards the great values of mankind, truth, good and beauty; now more than ever…Teaching means to accompany young people in their search for truth and beauty, for what is right and good.  — Educating Today and Tomorrow: A Renewing Passion, 2014 2

We want our students to maximize their human potential and to both be good and do good in authentic freedom. In order to do this, our students need to be able to know how to wisely and fully apprehend and interrogate all aspects of reality from a solid Christian intellectual tradition. This intellectual tradition involves not just teaching facts and skills, but is also essentially focused on seeking to know the value and nature of things and in appreciating the value of knowledge for its own sake.

One method of assisting students to keep focus on these aspects of Catholic intellectual inquiry is to use the lenses of truth, goodness, and beauty to evaluate a subject under consideration. These three elements are often understood as being among the transcendentals. Transcendentals are the timeless and universal attributes of being.3 They are the properties of all beings. They reflect the divine origin of all things and the unity of all truth and reality in God. These elements are among the deepest realities. They help unite men across time and culture and are often a delight to explore and discuss, because they are substantive to our very nature.

The transcendentals of truth, beauty, and goodness are closely intertwined. Dubay (1999) observed that, “Truth beauty and goodness have their being together, by truth we are put in touch with reality which we find is good for us and beautiful to behold. In our knowing, loving and delighting the gift of reality appears to us as something infinitely and in-exhaustively valuable and fascinating.”4 In seeking to discuss one, the others are naturally and organically brought into the conversation.

The following simple definitions and essential questions are provided as a general framework to help facilitate a discussion on any topic in any subject. The goal is not to generate easy questions for easy answers, but to generate foundational questions for deep inquiry into the value and nature of things, to instill a sense of the intrinsic value of knowledge, and to elicit a sense of wonder.

Beauty

Beauty can help evoke wonder and delight, which are foundations of a life of wisdom and inquiry.5 Beauty involves apprehending unity, harmony, proportion, wholeness, and radiance.6 It often manifests itself in simplicity and purity, especially in math and science.7 Often beauty has a type of pre-rational (striking) force upon the soul, for instance when one witnesses a spectacular sunset or the face of one’s beloved. Beauty can be understood as a type of inner radiance or shine coming from a thing that is well-ordered to its state of being or is true to its nature or form.8

Beauty pleases not only the eye or ear, but also the intellect in a celebration of the integrity of our body and soul. It can be seen as a sign of God’s goodness, benevolence and graciousness, of both His presence and His transcendence in the world.9 It can serve as re-enchantment with the cosmos and all reality10 and assist in moving our students to a rich and deep contemplative beholding of the real.11

Some essential questions related to beauty:

  • Is “X” beautiful? How so? Why not?
  • Which of these (i.e., poems, experiments, proofs, theories, people, functions, concepts) is more beautiful and why? Why might others have thought this beautiful?
  • How does this person/thing attract? Is this person using their God-given gifts to attract in a way that pleases God and draws others closer to God? What can happen when beauty is not used for the glory of God?
  • What is delightful, wondrous about this person/thing?
  • How does this shine? Radiate?
  • How is faithfulness to form or nature powerfully evident here?
  • What does this reveal about the nature of what is seen?
  • Where is there unity and wholeness here?
  • Where is there proportion and harmony here?
  • How does this reveal God’s graciousness, presence, and transcendence?
  • What does my response to this reveal about me?
  • Is this also Good? Is this also True?

Goodness

When we explore issues of goodness with our students, we are fundamentally asking them to consider questions of how well someone or something fulfills its purpose. Goodness is understood as the perfection of being. A thing is good to the degree that it enacts and perfects those powers, activities, and capacities appropriate to its nature and purpose. A good pair of scissors cuts, a good eye has 20/20 vision, and so forth. We have to know a thing’s purpose, nature, or form to engage in an authentic discussion of “The Good.” When we get to questions of what is a good law, a good government, a good father, or a good man, the discussion quickly grows richer, deeper, and more complex.

As Catholic educators, our goal is to help our students to become good persons. Among those qualities we deem good are wisdom, faithfulness, and virtue. Virtue is a habitual and firm disposition to do the good.12 We are free to the extent that with the help of others, we have maximized these goods, these proper powers and perfections as man.13 Such efforts raise fundamental questions of what it means to be human and our relationships with each other, the created world, and God.

God, through reason and revelation, has not left us blind on these issues, nor has He left us up to our own subjective devices. It is a fundamental responsibility of the Catholic school to teach and pass on this Catholic culture, this Catholic worldview, this cultural patrimony, these insights, and these very fundamental truths about the good and what constitutes the good life.14 Particularly, in this and all our efforts as Catholic educators, we build our foundation of the good on Jesus Christ, who is the perfect man, and who fully reveals man to himself.15

Some essential questions related to goodness:

  • What is this thing’s purpose/end? What do we know from our senses and reason? From nature and natural law? What do we know from revelation?
  • What is this thing’s nature? What do we know from our senses and reason? From nature and natural law? What do we know from revelation?
  • What perfections are proper to this thing in light of its purpose?
  • To what degree does the particular instance we are considering possess or lack these perfections?
  • What, if anything, would make this better?
  • What would make this worse?
  • How well does this work? Is “X” a good “Y”? What makes “X” a good “Y”? (e.g., Is Odysseus a good husband? Is the liver we are diagnosing a good liver? Is the theory of relativity a good theory? Is Picasso a good artist?)
  • How does this measure up in terms of a Catholic worldview and values?
  • How does this measure up in terms of Catholic morality and virtue?
  • How does this measure up to God’s plan or expectations of it as revealed in Christ?
  • Is this also beautiful? Is this also true?

Truth

A simple definition for truth is the mind being in accord with reality.16 We seek always to place our students and ourselves in proper relationship with the truth. Nothing we do can ever be opposed to the truth, that is, opposed to reality which has its being in God. Catholics hold that when our senses are in good condition and functioning properly under normal circumstances, and when our reason is functioning honestly and clearly, we can come to know reality and have the ability to make true judgments about reality. Through study, reflection, experimentation, argument and discussion, we believe that an object under discussion may manifest itself in its various relations, either directly or indirectly, to the mind.17

We believe that Man tends by nature toward the truth. Even though due to our fallen nature we may sometimes seek to ignore or obfuscate the truth, we are nonetheless obliged to honor and bear witness to it in its fullness. We are bound to adhere to the truth once we come to know it and direct our whole life in accordance with the demands of truth.18 As Catholics, we believe that reason, revelation, and science will never be in ultimate conflict, as the same God created them all.19 We oppose scientism which without evidence makes the metaphysical claim that only what can be measured and subject to physical science can be true. We oppose relativism, not only because its central dictum “there is no truth” is self-contradicting, but also because in removing objective truths from any analysis, this also removes the possibility of gauging human progress, destroys the basis for human dignity, and disables the ability to make important moral distinctions such as the desirability of tolerance20 and wisdom of pursuing truth, beauty, and goodness as opposed to their opposites of error, ugliness, and sin.

Some essential questions related to truth:

  • Is it true?
  • Is our mind/concept in accord with reality?
  • Are we looking at this clearly and with our senses and reason properly attuned?
  • Is the thinking rational and logical?
  • Is the information and reasoning clear and precise?
  • Is the approach fair and balanced?
  • How does this square with what we know from revelation? If there is a disconnect, where further shall we explore?
  • On what intellectual, moral, or intuitive principle are we basing this?
  • Can the knowledge or situation under consideration be integrated with or expanded by the knowledge from another academic discipline?
  • Now that we know this particular truth about a thing, what other questions does that raise? What more do we want to know?
  • Is this also beautiful? Is this also good?

 

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Catholic Curriculum Standards

Table of Contents

Explanation of the Standards
Introduction
English/Language Arts Grades K-6
English/Language Arts Grades 7-12
History Grades K-6
History Grades 7-12
Scientific Topics Grades K-6
Scientific Topics Grades 7-12
Mathematics Grades K-6
Mathematics Grades 7-12
Appendix A: Educating to Truth, Beauty, and Goodness
Appendix B: Assessing Non-Cognitive Standards
Appendix C: ELA Resources & Reading List
Appendix D: History Resources
Appendix E: Science Resources
Appendix F: Mathematics Resources
Appendix G: Consultants & Contributors
References
Reference Tables for Standards
Church Documents for School Teachers: Annotated Bibliography

Explanation of the Catholic Curriculum Standards

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Catholic Education released a document  in 2014 to guide Catholic schools in their approach to educational standards. It had been longstanding practice in Catholic education to rely heavily upon state standards for public schools, but this became increasingly controversial when many states shifted to the Common Core State Standards. The Committee advised:

Catholic schools must consider standards that support the mission and purpose of the school as a Catholic institution. Attempts to compartmentalize the religious and the secular in Catholic schools reflect a relativistic perspective by suggesting that faith is merely a private matter and does not have a significant bearing on how reality as a whole should be understood. Such attempts are at odds with the integral approach to education that is a hallmark of Catholic schools. Standards that support an appropriate integration should be encouraged.

Such standards are critical to Catholic education. The Church and the Catholic intellectual tradition it inspired have thought deeply and explicitly about these things for centuries; the challenge is to place them into a contemporary K-12 standards format without losing these deep spiritual and philosophical insights. Standards reflecting the Catholic intellectual tradition might then form the foundation of a school’s measures of success, or they might complement a school’s carefully selected academic standards that are already in use.

The scope and nature of this project entails research and inquiry into two areas: “What does the Church expect of its schools?” and “What sort of academic standards in each discipline might guide a school’s curriculum toward this end?” The Cardinal Newman Society undertook the first inquiry with its Principles of Catholic Identity in Education project. The second inquiry resulted in these Catholic Curriculum Standards.

Research from the first inquiry resulted in the synthesis of key Church teachings into five principles of Catholic identity. They are:

  1. Inspired by Divine Mission,
  2. Models Christian Communion and Identity,
  3. Encounters Christ in Prayer, Scripture, and Sacrament,
  4. Integrally Forms the Human Person, and
  5. Imparts a Christian View for Humanity.

Principles 1, 4, and 5 most directly guide the scope and of the Catholic Curriculum Standards.

The Catholic Curriculum Standards take into account guidance from Church documents which emphasize that Catholic education:

  • Involves the integral formation of the whole person, body, mind, and spirit, in light of his or her ultimate end and the good of society.
  • Seeks to know and understand objective reality, including transcendent Truth, which is knowable by reason and faith and finds its origin, unity, and end in God.
  • Promotes human virtues and the dignity of the human person, as created in the image and likeness of God and modeled on the person of Jesus Christ.
  • Encourages a synthesis of faith, life, and culture.
  • Develops a Catholic worldview and enables a deeper incorporation of the student into the heart of the Catholic Church.

This framework guides the second part of the inquiry, “What sort of academic standards might serve to guide a school’s curriculum toward this end?”

The initial development of the standards was influenced by multiple sources, including Church documents, scholarly works related to Catholic education and the Catholic intellectual tradition, and books articulating the nature of liberal arts and classical education. The standards also reflect the educational philosophies of several faithful Catholic colleges in The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College.

A series of meetings, focus groups, and contacts with academic subject area experts helped further refine the scope and nature of each discipline’s Catholic tradition and the complete standards; these experts represent Aquinas College (Nashville), Ave Maria University, Catholic University of America, Christendom College, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Thomas Aquinas College, Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, University of St. Thomas (Houston), and others. Cardinal Newman Society authors then structured the standards into conventional standards-based language and format. Further input and review was provided by national standards expert, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, who oversaw the writing of the highly regarded Massachusetts academic standards and was a final validation team member by the developers of the Common Core before resigning in disagreement. Finally, the standards were reviewed by superintendents, teachers, and curriculum experts in three Catholic dioceses for clarity, applicability, and structure.

Each academic discipline’s standards are broadly grouped into two sets focusing on grades K-6 and 7-12, with general, intellectual, and dispositional standards for each academic discipline. The general standards are tied to the five critical elements listed above. Intellectual standards are cognitive standards and are primarily content and performance based. The dispositional standards involve the formation of character, beliefs, attitudes, values, interpersonal skills. Each standard is given a unique identifier for ease of location within the document and identification in teacher lesson plans. The following are examples of standards for English language arts, math, science, and history:

CS ELA.712(English Language Arts 7-12) GS3 Analyze works of fiction and non-fiction to uncover authentic Truth.
CS H.K6(History K-6) IS11 Identify the motivating values that have informed particular societies and how they correlate with Catholic teaching.
CS S.K6(Scientific Topics K-6) IS8 Explain how science properly limits its focus to “how” things physically exist and is not designed to answer issues of meaning, the value of things, or the mysteries of the human person.
CS M.K6(Math K-6) DS2 Respond to the beauty, harmony, proportion, radiance, and wholeness present in mathematics.

In addition to the standards, the document contains a number of appendices to assist implementation. To help orient instructional efforts, the document provides guidance on educating to truth, beauty, and goodness. The appendices also contain best practice information, a recommended reading list for Catholic schools, and a brief discussion on the assessment of dispositional standards.

The Catholic Curriculum Standards are intended primarily as a general resource for Catholic school curriculum developers, superintendents, and others familiar with creating curriculum and standards. However, anyone with an interest in Catholic education may find them useful. Those who interact with the standards are encouraged to select some or all of the standards that they believe might solidify and enhance the Catholic identity of their curriculum and integrate them into their larger educational efforts.

The Standards can be viewed and downloaded from the K-12 section of The Cardinal Newman Society’s website (www.newmansociety.org). Questions and comments can be sent to Denise Donohue (ddonohue@cardinalnewmansociety.org) or Dan Guernsey (dguernsey@cardinalnewmansociety.org).

Introduction

The mission and goals of Catholic education are significantly different from the college and career goals that guide public schools. Because the mission of a school should guide its choice of standards, the unique and broader mission of Catholic education requires additional and foundational standards that include specific Catholic modes of intellectual reasoning as well as accompanying dispositions.

A discussion of standards in use in a Catholic school should therefore begin with a discussion of the mission of Catholic education. There is no shortage of guidance from the Church on this topic. Building on insights from Vatican II’s Gravissimum Educationis (1965), these documents echo the fact that Catholic education has a primarily evangelical mission. It is to foster in students an awareness of the God-given gift of faith and to nurture their development into mature adults who will bear witness to the Mystical Body of Christ; respect the dignity of the human person; lead virtuous, prayerful, apostolic lives; serve the common good; and build the Kingdom of God.[i]

Through Catholic education, students encounter God’s transforming love and truth.[ii] With Jesus as its foundation,[iii] Catholic education integrally forms all aspects of students’ physical, moral, spiritual, and intellectual development, teaching them responsibility and the right use of freedom and preparing them to fulfill God’s calling in this world so as to attain the eternal kingdom in the next.[iv]

To guide students toward this goal, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) created the Curriculum Framework[v] for high school religion classes. But the mission of Catholic education is not limited to religion classes, nor is it separate from the intellectual formation of the students.

Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman observed that because of the divine origin and the destiny of all reality:

All branches of knowledge are connected together, because the subject-matter of knowledge is intimately united in itself, as being the acts and the work of the Creator. Hence it is that the Sciences, into which our knowledge may be said to be cast, have multiplied bearings one on another, and an internal sympathy, and admit, or rather demand, comparison and adjustment. They complete, correct, [and] balance each other.[vi]

This is a critical addition to the academic approach common in secular schools. Like these schools, Catholic educators lead students to know and appreciate reality using the best and most appropriate methods for the subject at hand and delve deeply into each specific academic discipline on its own terms, but Catholic education is also specifically and distinctly open to transcendent truths and an objective reality which surpasses and integrates the disciplines.

When illumined by the light of faith, all knowledge becomes living, conscious, and active.[vii] Because students have access to reason, revelation, and the guidance of the Catholic Church, Catholic education is uniquely positioned to offer guidance on issues of values and morality as well as to provide life-giving and definitive answers related to questions of human purpose, human dignity, and human flourishing. These questions arise quite naturally in academic practice and inquiry.

The Catholic educational project, to bring human wisdom into an encounter with divine wisdom,[viii] cultivates in students not only the intellectual but also the creative and aesthetic faculties of the human person. It develops the ability to make correct use of judgment, promotes a sense of values, encourages just attitudes and prudent behavior, introduces a cultural heritage, and prepares students to take on the responsibilities to serve society and the Church.[ix] It prepares students to work for the evangelization of culture and the common good.[x] In the light of faith, Catholic education critically and systematically transmits the civic and religious cultural patrimony handed down from previous generations, especially that which makes a person more human.[xi] Both educator and student participate in a dialogue with culture and pursue the integration of culture with faith and faith with living.[xii]

In Catholic education, there is no separation between learning and formation. The atmosphere is characterized by discovery and awareness that enkindles a love for truth, a desire to know the universe as God’s creation, and an awakening of a critical sense of examination which impels the mind to learn with order and precision.[xiii] Catholic education, imbued with the light of faith, instills a sense of responsibility and encourages strength and perseverance in the quest for knowledge.[xiv] Catholic intellectual efforts and formation are significantly more rich and profound given this broader understanding of reality, access to transcendent truths, support from a cultural heritage, and the efficacy of God’s grace poured forth from the Sacraments and guided by the Holy Spirit. Catholic academic standards must take all this and more into account, and, drawing from guidance in Church documents, should ensure these key components are addressed. Therefore,

Catholic education:

1. Involves the integral formation of the whole person, body, mind, and spirit, in light of his or her ultimate end and the good of society.[xv]
2. Seeks to know and understand objective reality, including transcendent Truth, which is knowable by reason and faith and finds its origin, unity, and end in God.
3. Promotes human virtues and the dignity of the human person, as created in the image and likeness of God and modeled on the person of Jesus Christ.[xvi]
4. Encourages a synthesis of faith, life, and culture.[xvii]
5. Develops a Catholic worldview and enables a deeper incorporation of the student into the heart of the Catholic Church.[xviii]

Operational Guidance

This resource guide is not a complete set of standards for any particular subject, but it is designed to complement a broader set of primarily content driven academic standards. Not all of the standards in this guide need be implemented.

There are many other possible articulations of standards that might address the intellectual and dispositional needs of Catholic education.[xix] The intent here is to start a conversation and invite further consideration as Catholic educators develop their own standards and curriculum guides based on their unique mission, which extends to the formation of their students in a rich Catholic intellectual heritage.

These standards reflect insights gathered from Church documents on education; books and articles on Catholic education, liberal arts education, and classical education; the educational philosophies of Catholic colleges in The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College; and the Cardinal Newman Society’s Principles of Catholic Identity in Education. A list of contributors and consultants is available in the Appendix. Reference tables at the end of the document link most standards with books, articles, or websites for further exploration of the topic.

The standards include the following designations:

  • GS = General Standards that articulate the above five premises.
  • IS = Intellectual Standards that articulate cognitive learning standards grouped by content for ease of use.
  • WS = Writing Standards involve formation of proper and logical thinking.
  • DS = Dispositional Standards involve the formation of character, beliefs, attitudes, and values, or other non-cognitive standards.

They are grouped into two sets, grades K-6 and 7-12, with general, intellectual, and affective dispositions for most subjects. Users are encouraged to select some or all of the standards that they believe might solidify and enhance the Catholic identity of their curriculum. This guide is intended primarily as a general resource for Catholic school curriculum developers, superintendents, and others familiar with creating standards and curriculum. Additional resources are available on the Cardinal Newman Society’s K-12 Catholic Curriculum Standards website at www.newmansociety.org.


Notes:

[i] Code of Canon Law (1983), canon 795; Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Declaration on Christian Education Gravissimum Educationis (1965), 2.

[ii] Meeting with Catholic Educators: Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI (Washington, D.C., April, 2008).

[iii] The Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, The Catholic School (1977), 34.

[iv] Code of Canon Law, canon 795Gravissimum Educationis, IntroductionCircular Letter to the Presidents of Bishops’ Conferences on Religious Education in Schools (2009), 1.

[v] USCCB, Doctrinal elements of a curriculum framework for the development of catechetical materials for young people of high school age (Washington, DC: USCCB, 2008).

[vi]  Blessed John Henry Newman. The Idea of a University: Defined and illustrated (London, England: Pickering, 1873).

[vii] The Catholic School (1977), 34; The Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School (1988), 77, 100; Congregation for Catholic Education, Educating in Intercultural Dialogue in the Catholic school: Living in Harmony for a Civilization of Love (2013), 56; National Conference of Catholic Bishops, To Teach as Jesus Did, (Washington, DC: USCCB, 1973), 102.

[viii] Congregation for Catholic Education, The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School, 57.

[ix] Gravissimum Educationis, 5; The Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, Lay Catholics in Schools: Witnesses to Faith (1982), 12.

[x] Saint Pope John Paul II, Ad limina visit of bishops from Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, (May 30, 1998), 2; Gravissimum Educationis, 8; USCCB, Renewing Our Commitment to Catholic Elementary & Secondary Schools in the Third Millennium (Washington, DC: USCCB, 2005), excerpts.

[xi] The Catholic School, 15, 26, 36Lay Catholics in Schools: Witnesses to Faith, 12The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School, 108.

[xii] The Catholic School, 49The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School, 34, 51 & 52.

[xiii] The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School, 49.

[xiv] The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School, 47, 49.

[xv] The Catholic School, 36, 47, 49Gravissimum Educationis, 1, par. 1; USCCB. Seven themes of Catholic social teaching.

[xvi] The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School, 52, 56The Catholic School, 55.

[xvii] The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School, 52The Catholic School, 37.

[xviii] The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School, 7174-77The Catholic School, 50.

[xix] For instance, religion standards are not included in this compilation, as the USCCB has addressed these in their Curriculum Framework. The reader will, though, find in these standards some natural overlap with the Curriculum Framework, specifically in the areas of science (discussion of creation S.K6. IS1-4 and human dignity S.712.GS3) and history (History begins and ends in God and has a religious dimension H.K6.IS1).

English/Language Arts K-6

CATHOLIC CURRICULAR STANDARDS AND DISPOSITIONS

IN ENGLISH/LANGUAGE ARTS K-6[1]

Literature and the arts are also, in their own way, of great importance to the life of the Church. They strive to make known the proper nature of man, his problems and his experiences in trying to know and perfect both himself and the world. They have much to do with revealing man’s place in history and in the world; with illustrating the miseries and joys, the needs and strengths of man and with foreshadowing a better life for him. Thus they are able to elevate human life, expressed in multifold forms according to various times and regions.

Gaudium et Spes, 1965, #62
      General Standards
CS ELA.K6 GS1 Analyze literature that reflects the transmission of a Catholic culture and worldview.
CS ELA.K6 GS2 Analyze works of fiction and non-fiction to uncover authentic Truth.
CS ELA.K6 GS3 Analyze carefully chosen selections to uncover the proper nature of man, his problems, and his experiences in trying to know and perfect both himself and the world.
CS ELA.K6 GS4 Share how literature can contribute to strengthening one’s moral character.
      Intellectual Standards
CS ELA.K6 IS1 Demonstrate how literature is used to develop a religious, moral, and social sense.
CS ELA.K6 IS2 Articulate how spiritual knowledge and enduring truths are represented and communicated through fairy tales, fables, myths, parables, and stories.
CS ELA.K6 IS3 Recognize Christian and Western symbols and symbolism.
CS ELA.K6 IS4 Explain how Christian and Western symbols and symbolism communicate the battle between good and evil and make reality visible.
CS ELA.K6 IS5 Recite poems of substance that inform the human soul and encourage a striving for virtue and goodness.
CS ELA.K6 IS6 Identify examples of noble characteristics in stories of virtuous heroes and heroines.
CS ELA.K6 IS7 Identify the causes underlying why people do the things they do.
CS ELA.K6 IS8 Identify how literature develops the faculty of personal judgment.
CS ELA.K6 IS9 Analyze how literature assists in the ability to make judgments about what is true and what is false and to make choices based on these judgments.
CS ELA.K6 IS10 Analyze literature to identify, interpret, and assimilate the cultural patrimony handed down from previous generations.
CS ELA.K6 IS11 Summarize how literature can reflect the historical and sociological culture of the time period in which it was written to help us better understand ourselves and other cultures and times.
CS ELA.K6 IS12 Use imagination to create dialogue between the readers and the characters in a story.
CS ELA.K6 IS13 Determine how literature cultivates the human intellectual faculties of contemplation, intuition, and creativity.
CS ELA.K6 IS14 Analyze the author’s reasoning and discover the author’s intent.
      Writing Standards
CS ELA.K6 WS1 Use language as a bridge for communication with one’s fellow man for the betterment of all involved.
CS ELA.K6 WS2 Write in various ways to naturally order thoughts, align them with truth, and accurately express intent, knowledge, and feelings.
CS ELA.K6 WS3 Use grammar as a means of signifying concepts and the relationship to reason.
      Dispositional Standards
CS ELA.K6 DS1 Accept and value how literature aids one to live harmoniously with others.
CS ELA.K6 DS2 Accept and value how literature can assist in interpreting and evaluating all things in a truly Christian spirit.
CS ELA.K6 DS3 Share how literature cultivates the aesthetic faculties within the human person.
CS ELA.K6 DS4 Share beautifully told and well-crafted works, especially those with elements of unity, harmony, and radiance of form.
CS ELA.K6 DS5 Share how literature ignites the creative imagination in healthy ways.
CS ELA.K6 DS6 Share how literature assists in identifying, interpreting, and assimilating the cultural patrimony handed down from previous generations.
CS ELA.K6 DS7 Delight and wonder through the reading of creative, sound, and healthy stories, poems, and plays.
CS ELA.K6 DS8 Recognize literary characters possessing virtue and begin to exhibit these virtuous behaviors, values, and attitudes.
CS ELA.K6 DS9 Share how the beauty and cadence of poetry impacts human sensibilities and forms the soul.

[1] See Appendix C for English Language Arts resources and a recommended reading list for Catholic schools in the United States.

English/Language Arts 7-12

CATHOLIC CURRICULAR STANDARDS AND DISPOSITIONS

IN ENGLISH/LANGUAGE ARTS 7-12[1]

Literature and the arts are also, in their own way, of great importance to the life of the Church. They strive to make known the proper nature of man, his problems and his experiences in trying to know and perfect both himself and the world. They have much to do with revealing man’s place in history and in the world; with illustrating the miseries and joys, the needs and strengths of man and with foreshadowing a better life for him. Thus they are able to elevate human life, expressed in multifold forms according to various times and regions.

Gaudium et Spes, 1965, #62
      General Standards
CS ELA.712 GS1 Analyze literature that reflects the transmission of a Catholic culture and worldview.
CS ELA.712 GS2 Analyze works of fiction and non-fiction to uncover authentic Truth.
CS ELA.712 GS3 Analyze carefully chosen selections to uncover the proper nature of man, his problems, and his experiences in trying to know and perfect both himself and the world.
CS ELA.712 GS4 Share how literature can contribute to strengthening one’s moral character.
      Intellectual Standards
CS ELA.712 IS1 Identify how literature interprets the human condition, human behaviors, and human actions in its redeemed and unredeemed state.
CS ELA.712 IS2 Describe how the rich spiritual knowledge communicated through fairy tales, fables, myths, parables, and other stories is a reflection on the truth and development of a moral imagination and the mystery, danger, and wonder of human experience.
CS ELA.712 IS3 Describe the importance of thinking with images informed by classic Christian and Western symbols and archetypes, including their important role in understanding the battle between good and evil and their role in making visible realities that are complex, invisible, and spiritual.
CS ELA.712 IS4 Explain from a Catholic perspective how literature addresses critical questions related to man, such as: How ought men live in community with each other? What are an individual’s rights, duties, freedoms, and restraints?  What are a society’s? What is the relationship between man and God? Between man and the physical world? What is the nature of human dignity and the human spirit? What is love? What is the good life?
CS ELA.712 IS5 Describe how poets and writers use language to convey truths that are universal and transcendent.
CS ELA.712 IS6 Analyze critical values presented in literature and the degree to which they are in accord or discord with Catholic norms.
CS ELA.712 IS7 Use imagination to create dialogue between the reader and fictional characters by entering into the lives of the characters and uncovering deeper meanings, inferences, and relationships between the characters, nature, and God.
CS ELA.712 IS8 Explain how literature assists in transcending the limited horizon of human reality.
CS ELA.712 IS9 Evaluate complex literary selections for all that is implied in the concept of “person”[2] as defined from a Catholic perspective.
CS ELA.712 IS10 Analyze how literature helps identify, interpret, and assimilate the cultural patrimony handed down from previous generations.
CS ELA.712 IS11 Summarize how literature can reflect the historical and sociological culture of the time period in which it was written and help better understand ourselves and other cultures and times.
CS ELA.712 IS12 Demonstrate cultural literacy and familiarity with the great works and authors of the world and in particular the Western canon.
CS ELA.712 IS13 Explain how the powerful role of poetic knowledge, the moral imagination, connotative language, and artistic creativity explore difficult and unwieldy elements of the human condition, which is not always explainable with technical linguistic analysis or scientific rationalism.
CS ELA.712 IS14 Analyze the author’s reasoning and discover the author’s intent.
CS ELA.712 IS15 Describe how the gratuitousness of literary and artistic creation reflects the divine prerogative. Explain the role of man as “maker”—as artist, poet, and creator—and how the use of language to create is reflective of our being made in the image and likeness of God.
      Writing Standards
CS ELA.712 WS1 Explain how language can be used as a bridge for communion with others for the betterment of all involved.
CS ELA.712 WS2 Write in various ways to naturally order thoughts to the truth with an accurate expression of intent, knowledge, and feelings.
CS ELA.712 WS3 Use grammar as a means of signifying concepts and the relationship to reason.
CS ELA.712 WS4 Demonstrate the use of effective rhetorical skills in the service and pursuit of truth.
      Dispositional Standards
CS ELA.712 DS1 Share how literature fosters both prudence and sound judgment in the human person.
CS ELA.712 DS2 Develop empathy, care, and compassion for a character’s crisis or choice in order to transcend oneself, build virtue, and better understand one’s own disposition and humanity.
CS ELA.712 DS3 Display the virtues and values evident within stories that involve an ideal and take a stand for love, faith, courage, fidelity, truth, beauty, goodness, and all virtues.
CS ELA.712 DS4 Identify with beautifully told and well-crafted works, especially those with elements of unity, harmony, and radiance of form.
CS ELA.712 DS5 Share how literature ignites the creative imagination by presenting in rich context amazing lives and situations told by humanity’s best storytellers and most alive intellects.
CS ELA.712 DS6 Display a sense of the “good” by examining the degree in which characters significantly possess or lack the perfections proper to a) their nature as human persons, b) their proper role in society as understood in their own culture or the world of the text, c) the terms of contemporary culture, and d) the terms of Catholic tradition and moral norms.
CS ELA.712 DS7 Delight and wonder through the reading of creative, sound, and healthy stories, plays and poems.

[1] See Appendix C for English Language Arts resources and a recommended reading list for Catholic schools in the United States.[2] A “person” includes concepts of intelligence and will, freedom and feelings, the capacity to be an active and creative agent, a being endowed with both rights and duties, capable of interpersonal relationships, called to a specific mission in the world.

History K-6

CATHOLIC CURRICULAR STANDARDS AND DISPOSITIONS
IN HISTORY K-6[1]

Teachers should guide the students’ work in such a way that they will be able to discover a religious dimension in the world of human history. As a preliminary, they should be encouraged to develop a taste for historical truth, and therefore to realize the need to look critically at texts and curricula which, at times, are imposed by a government or distorted by the ideology of the author…they will see the development of civilizations, and learn about progress…When they are ready to appreciate it, students can be invited to reflect on the fact that this human struggle takes place within the divine history of universal salvation. At this moment, the religious dimension of history begins to shine forth in all its luminous grandeur.

The Religious Dimension of a Catholic School, 1988, #58-59
      General Standards
CS H.K6 GS1 Demonstrate a general understanding of the “story” of humanity from creation to present through a Catholic concept of the world and man.
CS H.K6 GS2 Demonstrate an understanding about great figures of history by examining their lives for examples of virtue or vice.
CS H.K6 GS3 Demonstrate an understanding of the cultural inheritance provided by the Church.
      Intellectual Standards
CS H.K6 IS1 Describe how history begins and ends in God and how history has a religious dimension.
CS H.K6 IS2 Describe how Jesus, as God incarnate, existed in history just like we do.
CS H.K6 IS3 Describe how reading history is a way to learn about what God does for humanity.
CS H.K6 IS4 Explain the history of the Catholic Church and its impact in human events.
CS H.K6 IS5 Exhibit mastery of essential dates, persons, places, and facts relevant to the Western tradition and the Catholic Church.
CS H.K6 IS6 Explain how the central themes within the stories of important Catholic figures and saints repeat over time.
CS H.K6 IS7 Explain how beliefs about God, humanity, and material things affect behavior.
CS H.K6 IS8 Explain the human condition and the role and dignity of man in God’s plan.
CS H.K6 IS9 Demonstrate how history helps us predict and plan for future events using prudence and wisdom gleaned from recognizing previous patterns of change, knowledge of past events, and a richer, more significant, view of personal experiences.
CS H.K6 IS10 Explain how historical events involving critical human experiences, especially those dealing with good and evil, help enlarge perspective and understanding of self and others.
CS H.K6 IS11 Identify the motivating values that have informed particular societies and how they correlate with Catholic teaching.
CS H.K6 IS12 Examine how history can assist in the acquisition of values and virtues.
      Dispositional Standards
CS H.K6 DS1 Select and describe beautiful artifacts from different times and cultures
CS H.K6 DS2 Exhibit an affinity for the common good and shared humanity, not just with those nearby, but also for those who have gone before and those who will come after.
CS H.K6 DS3 Demonstrate respect and solicitude to individual differences among students in the classroom and school community.
CS H.K6 DS4 Discriminate between what is positive in the world with what needs to be transformed and what injustices need to be overcome.
CS H.K6 DS5 Justify the significance and impact of the Catholic Church throughout history.
CS H.K6 DS6 Develop a habitual vision of greatness.

[1] See Appendix D for History resources.

History 7-12

CATHOLIC CURRICULAR STANDARDS AND DISPOSITIONS
IN HISTORY 7-12[1]

Teachers should guide the students’ work in such a way that they will be able to discover a religious dimension in the world of human history. As a preliminary, they should be encouraged to develop a taste for historical truth, and therefore to realize the need to look critically at texts and curricula which, at times, are imposed by a government or distorted by the ideology of the author…they will see the development of civilizations, and learn about progress…When they are ready to appreciate it, students can be invited to reflect on the fact that this human struggle takes place within the divine history of universal salvation. At this moment, the religious dimension of history begins to shine forth in all its luminous grandeur.

The Religious Dimension of a Catholic School, 1988, # 58-59
      General Standards
CS H.712 GS1 Describe how history begins and ends in God and how history has a religious dimension.
CS H.712 GS2 Analyze stories of important Catholic figures and saints who through their actions and examples develop or re-awaken that period’s moral sense.
CS H.712 GS3 Describe the historical impact of the Catholic Church on human events.
CS H.712 GS4 Explain how religious and moral knowledge are a requisite for understanding human grandeur and the drama of human activity throughout history.
CS H.712 GS5  Display personal self-worth and dignity as a human being and as part of God’s ultimate plan of creation.
      Intellectual Standards
CS H.712 IS1 Describe how God, Himself, through the incarnation, has “sacramentalized” time and humanity.
CS H.712 IS2 Analyze how God has revealed Himself throughout time and history, including the things we know best and can easily verify.
CS H.712 IS3 Analyze how life experiences and life choices create a personal history with eternal consequences.
CS H.712 IS4 Evaluate how history is not a mere chronicle of human events, but rather a moral and meta-physical drama having supreme worth in the eyes of God.
CS H.712 IS5 Analyze cultures to show how they give expression to the transcendental aspects of life, including reflection on the mystery of the world and the mystery of humanity.
CS H.712 IS6 Develop an historical perspective and intellectual framework to properly situate each academic discipline, not only in its own developmental timeline, but also within the larger story of historical, cultural, and intellectual development.
CS H.712 IS7 Identify, from the Catholic perspective, the motivating values, philosophies, and theologies that have informed particular societies (e.g., Mexico, Canada, early colonies in the U.S.).
CS H.712 IS8 Demonstrate the ways men and societies change and/or persist over time to better understand the human condition.
CS H.712 IS9 Evaluate how societies provide a sense of coherence and meaning to human life, shaping and forming human culture and events.
CS H.712 IS10 Analyze great figures and events in history using the systematic frameworks of Western philosophical tradition and Catholic moral norms and virtue to better understand both those people and events.
CS H.712 IS11 Compare the actions of peoples according to their historical and cultural norms to the expectations of current Catholic moral norms and virtues.
CS H.712 IS12 Demonstrate how historical events and patterns of change help predict and plan for future events.
CS H.712 IS13 Describe how the moral qualities of a citizenry naturally give rise to the nature of the government and influence societal outcomes and destinies.
CS H.712 IS14 Relate how the development of a broader viewpoint of history and events affects individual experiences and deepens a sense of being and the world.
CS H.712 IS15 Analyze the thoughts and deeds of great men and women of the past.
CS H.712 IS16 Analyze and exhibit mastery of essential dates, persons, places, and facts, relevant to the Western tradition and the Catholic Church.
CS H.712 IS17 Examine texts for historical truths, recognizing bias or distortion by the author and overcoming a relativistic viewpoint.
CS H.712 IS18 Analyze historical events, especially those involving critical human experiences of good and evil, so as to enlarge understanding of self and others.
CS H.712 IS19 Distinguish the basic elements of Christian social ethics within historical events.
CS H.712 IS20 Evaluate how Christian social ethics extend to questions of politics, economy, and social institutions and not just personal moral decision-making.
CS H.712 IS21 Evaluate the concept of subsidiarity and its role in Catholic social doctrine.
CS H.712 IS22 Analyze the concept of solidarity and describe its effect on a local, regional, and global level.
CS H.712 IS23 Compare the right to own private property with the universal distribution of goods and the distribution of goods in a socialist society.
CS H.712 IS24 Summarize the case for the dignity of work and the rights of workers.
CS H.712 IS25 Examine the Church’s position on freedom and man’s right to participate in the building up of society and contributing to the common good.
CS H.712 IS26 Articulate the tension and distinction between religious freedom and social cohesion.
CS H.712 IS27 Identify the dangers of relativism present in the notion that one culture cannot critique another, and that truth is simply culturally created.
      Dispositional Standards
CS H.712 DS1 Select and describe beautiful artifacts from different times and cultures.
CS H.712 DS2 Exhibit love for the common good and a shared humanity with those present, those who have gone before, and those who will come after.
CS H.712 DS3 Evaluate the aesthetics (idea of beauty) of different cultures and times to better appreciate the purpose and power of both cultural and transcendent notions of the beautiful.
CS H.712 DS4 Share Catholic virtues and values (i.e., prudence and wisdom) gleaned from the study of human history to better evaluate personal behaviors, trends of contemporary society, and prevalent social pressures and norms.
CS H.712 DS5 Justify how history, as a medium, can assist in recognizing and rejecting contemporary cultural values that threaten human dignity and are contrary to the Gospel message.
CS H.712 DS6 Demonstrate respect and appreciation for the qualities and characteristics of different cultures in order to pursue peace and understanding, knowledge and truth.

[1] See Appendix D for History resources.

Scientific Topics K-6

CATHOLIC CURRICULAR STANDARDS AND DISPOSITIONS

RELATED TO SCIENTIFIC TOPICS K-6[1]

By the very nature of creation, material being is endowed with its own stability, truth and excellence, its own order and laws. These man must respect as he recognizes the methods proper to every science and technique…Whoever labors to penetrate the secrets of reality with a humble and steady mind, even though he is unaware of the fact, is nevertheless being led by the hand of God, who holds all things in existence, and gives them their identity.

Gaudium et Spes, 1965, #36
    General Standards
CS S.K6 GS1 Exhibit care and concern at all stages of life for each human person as an image and likeness of God.
CS S.K6 GS2 Describe the unity of faith and reason with confidence that there exists no contradiction between the God of nature and the God of faith.
CS S.K6 GS3 Value the human body as the temple of the Holy Spirit.
      Intellectual Standards
CS S.K6 IS1 Explain what it means to say that God created the world and all matter out of nothing at a certain point in time; how it manifests His wisdom, glory, and purpose; and how He holds everything in existence according to His plan.
CS S.K6 IS2 Describe the relationships, elements, underlying order, harmony, and meaning in God’s creation.
CS S.K6 IS3 Explain how creation is an outward sign of God’s love and goodness and, therefore, is “sacramental” in nature.
CS S.K6 IS4 Give examples of the beauty evident in God’s creation.
CS S.K6 IS5 Explain the processes of conservation, preservation, overconsumption, and stewardship in relation to caring for that which God has given to sustain and delight us.
CS S.K6 IS6 Describe God’s relationship with man and nature.
CS S.K6 IS7 Describe how science and technology should always be at the service of humanity and, ultimately, to God, in harmony with His purposes.
CS S.K6 IS8 Explain how science properly limits its focus to “how” things physically exist and is not designed to answer issues of meaning, the value of things, or the mysteries of the human person.
CS S.K6 IS9 Describe how the use of the scientific method to explore and understand nature differs, yet complements, the theological and philosophical questions one asks in order to understand God and His works.
CS S.K6 IS10 Analyze the false assumption that science can replace faith.
CS S.K6 IS11 List the basic contributions of significant Catholics to science such as Galileo, Copernicus, Mendel, and others.
      Dispositional Standards
CS S.K6 DS1 Display a sense of wonder and delight about the natural universe and its beauty.
CS S.K6 DS2 Share concern and care for the environment as a part of God’s creation.
CS S.K6 DS3 Accept the premise that nature should not be manipulated simply at man’s will or only viewed as a thing to be used, but that man must cooperate with God’s plan for himself and for nature.
CS S.K6 DS4 Accept that scientific knowledge is a call to serve and not simply a means to gain power, material prosperity, or success.

[1] The topics covered in these standards, while touching upon the natural world, nevertheless transcend the limits of strict scientific inquiry. Thus they may be explored in various disciplines. However, all science teachers in Catholic schools should be conversant in these issues from a Catholic perspective as they may arise in science class. See Appendix E for Science resources.

Scientific Topics 7-12

CATHOLIC CURRICULAR STANDARDS AND DISPOSITIONS

RELATED TO SCIENTIFIC TOPICS 7-12[1]

By the very nature of creation, material being is endowed with its own stability, truth and excellence, its own order and laws. These man must respect as he recognizes the methods proper to every science and technique…Whoever labors to penetrate the secrets of reality with a humble and steady mind, even though he is unaware of the fact, is nevertheless being led by the hand of God, who holds all things in existence, and gives them their identity.

Gaudium et Spes, 1965, #36
    General Standards
CS S.712 GS1 Exhibit a primacy of care and concern at all stages of life for each human person as an image and likeness of God.
CS S.712 GS2 Explain and promote the unity of faith and reason with confidence that there exists no contradiction between the God of nature and the God of the faith.
CS S.712 GS3 Value the human body as the temple of the Holy Spirit.
CS S.712 GS4 Share how the beauty and goodness of God is reflected in nature and the study of the natural sciences.
      Intellectual Standards
CS S.712 IS1 Articulate how science properly situates itself within other academic disciplines (e.g., history, theology) for correction and completion in order to recognize the limited material explanation of reality to which it is properly attuned.
CS S.712 IS2 Demonstrate confidence in human reason and in one’s ability to know the truth about God’s creation and the fundamental intelligibility of the world.
CS S.712 IS3 Analyze how the pursuit of scientific knowledge, for utilitarian purposes alone or for the misguided manipulation of nature, thwarts the pursuit of authentic Truth and the greater glory of God.
CS S.712 IS4 Relate how the search for truth, even when it concerns a finite reality of the natural world or of man, is never-ending and always points beyond to something higher than the immediate object of study.
CS S.712 IS5 Explain the processes of conservation, preservation, overconsumption, and stewardship as it relates to creation and to caring for that which God has given to sustain and delight us.
CS S.712 IS6 Evaluate the relationship between God, man, and nature, and the proper role in the totality of being and creation.
CS S.712 IS7 Describe humanity’s natural situation in, and dependence upon, physical reality and how man carries out his role as a cooperator with God in the work of creation.
CS S.712 IS8 Evaluate the errors present in the belief system of scientific naturalism or scientism[2] (which includes materialism[3] and reductionism[4]), which posits that scientific exploration and explanation is the only valid source of meaning.
CS S.712 IS9 Distinguish the difference between the use of the scientific method and the use of theological inquiry to know and understand God’s creation and universal truths.
CS S.712 IS10 Articulate the limitations of science (the scientific method and constraints of the physical world) to know and understand God and transcendent reality.
CS S.712 IS11 Identify key Catholic scientists such as Copernicus, Mendel, DaVinci, Bacon, Pasteur, Volta, St. Albert the Great, and others and the witness and evidence they supply against the false claim that Catholicism is not compatible with science.
CS S.712 IS12 Analyze and articulate the Church’s approach to the theory of evolution.
CS S.712 IS13 Relate how the human soul is specifically created by God for each human being, does not evolve from lesser matter, and is not inherited from our parents.
CS S.712 IS14 Explain how understanding the physiological properties of a human being does not address the existence of the transcendent spirit of the human person (see Appendix E).
CS S.712 IS15 Explain the supernatural design hypothesis in terms of the Borde-Vilenkin-Guth Proof, the Second Law of Thermodynamics, entropy, and anthropic coincidences (fine tuning of initial conditions and universal constants) (see Appendix E).
CS S.712 IS16 Articulate the details of the Galileo affair to counter the assumption that the Church is anti-science.
CS S.712 IS17 Demonstrate an understanding of the moral issues involving in vitro fertilization, human cloning, human genetic manipulation, and human experimentation and what the Church teaches regarding work in these areas.
      Dispositional Standards
CS S.712 DS1 Display a deep sense of wonder and delight about the natural universe.
CS S.712 DS2 Share how natural phenomena have more than a utilitarian meaning and purpose and exemplify the handiwork of the Creator.
CS S.712 DS3 Subscribe to the premise that nature should not be manipulated at will, but should be respected for its natural purpose and end as destined by the creator God.
CS S.712 DS4 Share concern and care for the environment as part of God’s creation.
CS S.712 DS5 Adhere to the idea of the simultaneous complexity and simplicity of physical reality.

[1] The topics covered in these standards, while touching upon the natural world, nevertheless transcend the limits of strict scientific inquiry. Thus they may be explored in various disciplines. However, all science teachers in Catholic schools should be conversant in these issues from a Catholic perspective as they may arise in science class. See Appendix E for Science resources.

[2] Scientism – belief that only science can reveal the truth.

[3] Materialism – elements of the visible world are the only things that really exist.

[4] Reductionism –all of reality is reducible to its smallest physical parts.

Mathematics K-6

CATHOLIC CURRICULAR STANDARDS AND DISPOSITIONS

IN MATHEMATICS K-6[1]

The school considers human knowledge as a truth to be discovered. In the measure in which subjects are taught by someone who knowingly and without restraint seeks the truth, they are to that extent Christian. Discovery and awareness of truth leads man to the discovery of Truth itself. A teacher who is full of Christian wisdom, well prepared in his own subject, does more than convey the sense of what he is teaching to his pupils. Over and above what he says, he guides his pupils beyond his mere words to the heart of total Truth.

The Catholic School, 1977, #41
    General Standards
CS M.K6 GS1 Demonstrate the mental habits of precise, determined, careful, and accurate questioning, inquiry, and reasoning.
CS M.K6 GS2 Develop lines of inquiry (as developmentally appropriate) to understand why things are true and why they are false.
CS M.K6 GS3 Recognize the power of the human mind as both a gift from God and a reflection of Him in whose image and likeness we are made.
CS M.K6 GS4 Survey the truths about mathematical objects that are interesting in their own right and independent of human opinions.
      Dispositional Standards
CS M.K6 DS1 Display a sense of wonder about mathematical relationships as well as confidence in mathematical certitude.
CS M.K6 DS2 Respond to the beauty, harmony, proportion, radiance, and wholeness present in mathematics.
CS M.K6 DS3 Show interest in the pursuit of understanding for its own sake.
CS M.K6 DS4 Exhibit joy at solving difficult mathematical problems and operations.
CS M.K6 DS5 Show interest in how the mental processes evident within the discipline of mathematics (such as order, perseverance, and logical reasoning) help us with the development of the natural virtues (such as self-discipline and fortitude).

[1] See Appendix F for mathematics resources.

Mathematics 7-12

CATHOLIC CURRICULAR STANDARDS AND DISPOSITIONS

IN MATHEMATICS 7-12[1]

The school considers human knowledge as a truth to be discovered. In the measure in which subjects are taught by someone who knowingly and without restraint seeks the truth, they are to that extent Christian. Discovery and awareness of truth leads man to the discovery of Truth itself. A teacher who is full of Christian wisdom, well prepared in his own subject, does more than convey the sense of what he is teaching to his pupils. Over and above what he says, he guides his pupils beyond his mere words to the heart of total Truth.

The Catholic school, 1977, #41
    General Standards
CS M.712 GS1 Demonstrate the mental habits of precise, determined, careful, and accurate questioning, inquiry, and reasoning in the pursuit of transcendent truths.
CS M.712 GS2 Develop lines of inquiry to understand why things are true and why they are false.
CS M.712 GS3 Have faith in the glory and dignity of human reason as both a gift from God and a reflection of Him in whose image and likeness we are made.
CS M.712 GS4 Explain how mathematics in its reflection of the good, true, and beautiful reveals qualities of being and the presence of God.
      Intellectual Standards
CS M.712 IS1 Explain the nature of rational discourse and argument and the desirability of precision and deductive certainty which mathematics makes possible and is not possible to the same degree in other disciplines.
CS M.712 IS2 Demonstrate how sound logical arguments and other processes of mathematics are foundational to its discipline.
CS M.712 IS3 Recognize how mathematical arguments and processes can be extrapolated to other areas of study, including theology and philosophy.
CS M.712 IS4 Explain how it is possible to mentally abstract and construct mathematical objects from direct observations of reality and how one’s perception of that reality is important to what one is doing (see Appendix F).
CS M.712 IS5 Recognize personal bias in inquiry and articulate why inquiry should be undertaken in a fair and independent manner.
CS M.712 IS6 Evaluate the ongoing nature of mathematical inquiry, its inexhaustibility, and its openness to the infinite.
CS M.712 IS7 Explain man’s limitations of understanding and uncovering all mathematical knowledge.
CS M.712 IS8 Explain how fundamental questions of values, common sense, and religious and human truths and experiences are beyond the scope of mathematical inquiry and its syllogisms.
      Dispositional Standards
CS M.712 DS1 Display a sense of wonder about mathematical relationships, especially mathematical certitude which is independent of human opinion.
CS M.712 DS2 Share with others the beauty, harmony, proportion, radiance, and wholeness present in mathematics.
CS M.712 DS3 Advocate for the pursuit of understanding for its own sake and the intrinsic value or discovery of the true and the beautiful often at the requirement of great sacrifice, discipline, and effort.
CS M.712 DS4 Exhibit appreciation for the ongoing nature of mathematical inquiry.
CS M.712 DS5 Exhibit habits of thinking quantitatively and in an orderly manner, especially through immersion in mathematical observations found within creation.
CS M.712 DS6 Propose how mathematical objects or proofs (such as the golden mean, the Fibonacci numbers, the musical scale, and geometric proofs) suggest divine origin.
CS M.712 DS7 Exhibit appreciation for the process of discovering meanings and truths existing within the solution of the problem and not just arriving at an answer.
CS M.712 DS8 Exhibit humility at knowing that as a human being man can only grasp a portion of the truths of the universe.
CS M.712 DS9 Advance an understanding of the ability of the human intellect to know and the desire of the will to want to know more.

[1] See Appendix F for Mathematics resources.

Appendix A

Educating to Truth, Beauty, and Goodness[i]

The world, in all its diversity, is eager to be guided towards the great values of mankind, truth, good and beauty; now more than ever…Teaching means to accompany young people in their search for truth and beauty, for what is right and good. 

Educating Today and Tomorrow: A Renewing Passion, 2014 [ii]

We want our students to maximize their human potential and to both be good and do good in authentic freedom. In order to do this, our students need to be able to know how to wisely and fully apprehend and interrogate all aspects of reality from a solid Christian intellectual tradition. This intellectual tradition involves not just teaching facts and skills, but is also essentially focused on seeking to know the value and nature of things and in appreciating the value of knowledge for its own sake.

One method of assisting students to keep focus on these aspects of Catholic intellectual inquiry is to use the lenses of truth, goodness, and beauty to evaluate a subject under consideration. These three elements are often understood as being among the transcendentals. Transcendentals are the timeless and universal attributes of being.[iii] They are the properties of all beings. They reflect the divine origin of all things and the unity of all truth and reality in God. These elements are among the deepest realities. They help unite men across time and culture and are often a delight to explore and discuss, because they are substantive to our very nature.

The transcendentals of truth, beauty, and goodness are closely intertwined. Dubay (1999) observed that, “Truth, goodness, and beauty have their being together. By truth we are put in touch with reality, which we find is good for us and beautiful to behold. In our knowing, loving, and delighting the gift of reality appears to us as ‘something infinitely and inexhaustibly valuable and fascinating.’”[iv] In seeking to discuss one, the others are naturally and organically brought into the conversation.

The following simple definitions and essential questions are provided as a general framework to help facilitate a discussion on any topic in any subject. The goal is not to generate easy questions for easy answers, but to generate foundational questions for deep inquiry into the value and nature of things, to instill a sense of the intrinsic value of knowledge, and to elicit a sense of wonder.

Beauty

Beauty can help evoke wonder and delight, which are foundations of a life of wisdom and inquiry.[v] Beauty involves apprehending unity, harmony, proportion, wholeness, and radiance.[vi] It often manifests itself in simplicity and purity, especially in math and science.[vii] Often beauty has a type of pre-rational (striking) force upon the soul, for instance when one witnesses a spectacular sunset or the face of one’s beloved. Beauty can be understood as a type of inner radiance or shine coming from a thing that is well-ordered to its state of being or is true to its nature or form.[viii]

Beauty pleases not only the eye or ear, but also the intellect in a celebration of the integrity of our body and soul. It can be seen as a sign of God’s goodness, benevolence and graciousness, of both His presence and His transcendence in the world.[ix] It can serve as re-enchantment with the cosmos and all reality[x] and assist in moving our students to a rich and deep contemplative beholding of the real.[xi]

Some essential questions related to beauty:

  • Is “X” beautiful? How so? Why not?
  • Which of these (i.e., poems, experiments, proofs, theories, people, functions, concepts) is more beautiful and why? Why might others have thought this beautiful?
  • How does this person/thing attract? Is this person using their God-given gifts to attract in a way that pleases God and draws others closer to God? What can happen when beauty is not used for the glory of God?
  • What is delightful, wondrous about this person/thing?
  • How does this shine? Radiate?
  • How is faithfulness to form or nature powerfully evident here?
  • What does this reveal about the nature of what is seen?
  • Where is there unity and wholeness here?
  • Where is there proportion and harmony here?
  • How does this reveal God’s graciousness, presence, and transcendence?
  • What does my response to this reveal about me?
  • Is this also Good? Is this also True?

Goodness

When we explore issues of goodness with our students, we are fundamentally asking them to consider questions of how well someone or something fulfills its purpose. Goodness is understood as the perfection of being. A thing is good to the degree that it enacts and perfects those powers, activities, and capacities appropriate to its nature and purpose. A good pair of scissors cuts, a good eye has 20/20 vision, and so forth. We have to know a thing’s purpose, nature, or form to engage in an authentic discussion of “The Good.” When we get to questions of what is a good law, a good government, a good father, or a good man, the discussion quickly grows richer, deeper, and more complex.

As Catholic educators, our goal is to help our students to become good persons. Among those qualities we deem good are wisdom, faithfulness, and virtue. Virtue is a habitual and firm disposition to do the good.[xii] We are free to the extent that with the help of others, we have maximized these goods, these proper powers and perfections as man.[xiii] Such efforts raise fundamental questions of what it means to be human and our relationships with each other, the created world, and God.

God, through reason and revelation, has not left us blind on these issues, nor has He left us up to our own subjective devices. It is a fundamental responsibility of the Catholic school to teach and pass on this Catholic culture, this Catholic worldview, this cultural patrimony, these insights, and these very fundamental truths about the good and what constitutes the good life.[xiv] Particularly, in this and all our efforts as Catholic educators, we build our foundation of the good on Jesus Christ, who is the perfect man, and who fully reveals man to himself.[xv]

Some essential questions related to goodness:

  • What is this thing’s purpose/end? What do we know from our senses and reason? From nature and natural law? What do we know from revelation?
  • What is this thing’s nature? What do we know from our senses and reason? From nature and natural law? What do we know from revelation?
  • What perfections are proper to this thing in light of its purpose?
  • To what degree does the particular instance we are considering possess or lack these perfections?
  • What, if anything, would make this better?
  • What would make this worse?
  • How well does this work? Is “X” a good “Y”? What makes “X” a good “Y”? (e.g., Is Odysseus a good husband? Is the liver we are diagnosing a good liver? Is the theory of relativity a good theory? Is Picasso a good artist?)
  • How does this measure up in terms of a Catholic worldview and values?
  • How does this measure up in terms of Catholic morality and virtue?
  • How does this measure up to God’s plan or expectations of it as revealed in Christ?
  • Is this also beautiful? Is this also true?

Truth

A simple definition for truth is the mind being in accord with reality.[xvi] We seek always to place our students and ourselves in proper relationship with the truth. Nothing we do can ever be opposed to the truth, that is, opposed to reality which has its being in God. Catholics hold that when our senses are in good condition and functioning properly under normal circumstances, and when our reason is functioning honestly and clearly, we can come to know reality and have the ability to make true judgments about reality. Through study, reflection, experimentation, argument and discussion, we believe that an object under discussion may manifest itself in its various relations, either directly or indirectly, to the mind.[xvii]

We believe that Man tends by nature toward the truth. Even though due to our fallen nature we may sometimes seek to ignore or obfuscate the truth, we are nonetheless obliged to honor and bear witness to it in its fullness. We are bound to adhere to the truth once we come to know it and direct our whole life in accordance with the demands of truth.[xviii] As Catholics, we believe that reason, revelation, and science will never be in ultimate conflict, as the same God created them all.[xix] We oppose scientism which without evidence makes the metaphysical claim that only what can be measured and subject to physical science can be true. We oppose relativism, not only because its central dictum “there is no truth” is self-contradicting, but also because in removing objective truths from any analysis, this also removes the possibility of gauging human progress, destroys the basis for human dignity, and disables the ability to make important moral distinctions such as the desirability of tolerance[xx] and wisdom of pursuing truth, beauty, and goodness as opposed to their opposites of error, ugliness, and sin.

Some essential questions related to truth:

  • Is it true?
  • Is our mind/concept in accord with reality?
  • Are we looking at this clearly and with our senses and reason properly attuned?
  • Is the thinking rational and logical?
  • Is the information and reasoning clear and precise?
  • Is the approach fair and balanced?
  • How does this square with what we know from revelation? If there is a disconnect, where further shall we explore?
  • On what intellectual, moral, or intuitive principle are we basing this?
  • Can the knowledge or situation under consideration be integrated with or expanded by the knowledge from another academic discipline?
  • Now that we know this particular truth about a thing, what other questions does that raise? What more do we want to know?
  • Is this also beautiful? Is this also good?

[i] An adapted version of this essay appears in After the fall: Catholic education beyond the common core (September 2016) Esolen, A., Guernsey, D., Robbins. J., and Ryan, K. A white paper by The Pioneer Institute and American Principles Project.

[ii] Congregation for Catholic Education. (2014).  Educating today and tomorrow: A renewing passion. Conclusion.

[iii] Harden, J. (1980). Modern Catholic dictionary. New York, NY: Image Books.

[iv] Dubay, T. (1999).  The evidential power of beauty: Science and theology meet. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 52.

[v] Aristotle, Metaphysics, 1.982b.

[vi] Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I, 5,4 and 1q.39.a.8.

[vii] Dubay, The evidential power of beauty: Science and theology meet, 24.

[viii] Saward, J.(1997). The beauty of holiness and the holiness of beauty: Art sanctity and the truth of Catholicism. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 47.

[ix] Hart, D. (2003). The beauty of the infinite: The aesthetics of Christian truth. Cambridge, UK: Eerdmann’s Publishing, 17.

[x] Caldecott, S. (2009). Beauty for truth’s sake: The re-enchantment of education. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 17.

[xi] Pieper, J. (1998). Leisure and the basis of culture. South Bend, IN: St. Augustine’s Press, 31.

[xii] Catechism of the Catholic Church: Revised in Accordance with the Official Latin Text Promulgated by Pope John Paul II. (1997). Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.1830.

[xiii] Hancock, C. (2005). Recovering a Catholic philosophy of elementary education. Mount Pocono, PA: Newman House Press, 86.

[xiv] The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School, 108.

[xv] Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. (1965). Gaudium et Spes, 22.

[xvi] St. Thomas Aquinas De Veritate, Q.1, A.1-3; cf. Summa Theologiae, Q.16.

[xvii] For a more complete discussion of this topic see p. 64-70, Recovering a Catholic Philosophy of Elementary Education by Curtis Hancock.

[xviii] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2467.

[xix] The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School, 54.

[xx] Beckwith, F. & Koukl, G. (1998). Relativism: Feet firmly planted in midair. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 62-69.

Appendix B

Assessing Non-Cognitive Standards

In the Catholic school’s educational project there is no separation between time for learning and time for formation, between acquiring notions and growing in wisdom. The various school subjects do not present only knowledge to be attained, but also values to be acquired and truths to be discovered.

The Catholic School on the Threshold of the Third Millennium,1997, #14

The virtues, values, truths, and wisdom, which are never separated from instruction in Catholic schools, must not be forgotten or minimized because they are not easily measurable. Our efforts at complete human formation often find us situated into matters of the heart and spirit which do not easily lend themselves to traditional quantitative assessment.[i] We need not worry about this or apologize for it. We must also avoid the common trap of assuming that only that which can be quantifiably assessed should be taught or only that which is quantifiable is assessable. As Catholic educators, we know many of life’s most important things are invisible to the eye and do not lend themselves to the scientist’s tools of measurement. This does not prevent us from teaching the things that matter most.

Values, beliefs, attitudes, interpersonal skills, and virtues have always been taught, for the most part implicitly, in Catholic schools. It is important to be explicit about all that is implicit in our instructional efforts and their nature so that we do not lose touch with them or allow them to be sidelined by a culture of constant assessment. We must plan for the un-planned and never hesitate to grab a teachable moment, even though it deviates from a lesson plan or state standard. Formal lesson plans with objectives stating “Students will internalize aspects of our Catholic cultural heritage” or “Students will value the sacraments as outward signs of God’s inner grace” are not typically required or appropriate. These affective[ii] dispositions are, for the most part, taught by the example given by others (especially as modeled by the teacher) or developed through classroom discussions and firsthand interactions with materials, problems, and experiences. Growth in such areas is more often “caught than taught,” and rather than planning for them in discreet experiences, the Catholic teacher must be constantly aware of them so as to integrate them naturally whenever possible and without immediate concern for concrete assessment.

This area of highly personal affective behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs touches close to the heart of the individual, and because of this schools have traditionally shied away from placing numerical values on whether students do or do not possess particular affective qualities. While we are seeing more attempts at this type of measurement in public schools, sometimes measurement of these beliefs, values, and attitudes is not absolutely necessary. Sometimes framing the dispositions as an objective for the classroom teacher so as to provide focus and direction is all that is required.  Sometimes it is appropriate to assess the group as a whole, either through observation or an anonymous class survey, in an effort to determine progress on developing dispositions such as: do students “realize a deep sense of wonder and delight about the natural universe,” or do students “recognize and value how literature assists them in interpreting and evaluating all things in a truly Christian spirit”?

Three Methods for Assessing Non-Cognitive Dispositions

When contemplating an assessment, one should always ask: “What is the purpose, use, and measure of this assessment?” “Why is this assessment necessary?” “How will this assessment be used?” and “Is this a proper measure for this type of standard?” These types of questions are always necessary for any assessment, but especially assessments where students’ values and beliefs are the center of attention. When focusing on whether a student possesses a certain attitude, belief, or value, we are entering into an area that is highly personal and might change from day to day. While assessing cognition seems slightly removed from the center of the person, assessing beliefs and values cuts to the heart. It is almost like assessing love. “How much do you love me?” would be the assessment question, but isn’t love in-and-of-itself worthy without measure?

While caution needs to be used when seeking to align assessment to non-cognitive dispositions, it is still possible to design assessments for some of the non-cognitive standards using three primary methods: teacher observations, student-teacher interviews, and student self-reports. Because of the nature of assessing a disposition, it is advisable to use multiple measures to gain a fuller insight into a student’s behaviors and beliefs rather than through the use of only one assessment. Gathering information through the use of multiple types of assessments will result in a better understanding of what the student actually believes and, perhaps, why he or she believes it. Taking multiple measures over a longer period of time can also improve the reliability of the measure and help to confirm or disconfirm the student’s beliefs, values, and attitudes.

Non-cognitive dispositions can be assessed daily through interaction, such as brief or concentrated discussions with and between students, casual teacher observations of student traits or behaviors, or as articulated statements of belief made by the student during classroom exercises. These observations can be gathered informally through an anecdotal running record. Teachers might also record more formal notations of student beliefs, values, and attitudes through the development of a more structured rating scale. Either approach relies upon a solid understanding of the disposition in question.

When targeting a specific affective disposition for formal assessment, teachers first need to think deeply about the quality and characteristics evident for that disposition. Working with other teachers to compile a list of both positive and negative behaviors is the first step toward developing a continuum for observation. With this complete, a scale or frequency checklist can be created to provide reliability and guidance when observing students.

For example, a teacher might like to note the developing disposition of how well her students “exhibit a primacy of care and concern for each human person at all stages of life and as images and likenesses of God.” The teacher would first think about what qualities and characteristics are evident in a student who “exhibits a primacy of care and concern for each human person…” and begin to list these characteristics. Consultation with other educational experts about these characteristics helps validate the behaviors or lack thereof. The teacher would next create either a rating scale or frequency checklist as illustrated below using the behaviors as the criteria of measurement.

Rating Scale

Behavior Never Rarely Sometimes Most of the Time Almost Always
Helps others in need without being asked          
Looks for ways of making life easier for others.          

Frequency Checklist

Number of events Behavior
  Helps others in need without being asked.
  Looks for ways of making life easier for others.

Most Catholic schoolteachers are familiar with the National Catholic Educational Association’s ACRE exam,[iii] the Assessment of Children/Youth Religious Education given to students in 5th, 8-9th, and 11-12th grades annually. This exam assesses students’ knowledge as well as beliefs, attitudes, practices, and perceptions about the Catholic faith. This assessment is an example of using a student questionnaire or survey to uncover developing dispositions of faith and is similar to what can be designed to address dispositions in other content areas. Unfortunately, students might not feel comfortable completing these assessments as accurately and honestly as they could if anonymity is not available. Again, this is where multiple measures of assessment are necessary to confirm a developing disposition.

While it is possible to create assessments of dispositions for individual students, it is recommended that whole class assessment be made through teacher observation and that these types of assessments not be used for grading purposes. Assessments of this nature are best used as formative assessments to aid the classroom teacher in a more focused and integral formation of the student in all content areas.


[i] Traditional methods for measuring cognitive (thinking) standards include: selected response items (i.e., multiple-choice, true-false, and matching), constructed responses (i.e., short answer, essay), performance tasks (i.e., products and skills), or simple teacher observations using checklists and scales.

[ii] Krathwohl, D., Bloom, B., & Masia, B. (1964). Taxonomy of educational objectives: Book 2 affective domain. New York, NY: Longman, Inc.

[iii] Information about this assessment can be found at https://ncea.caltesting.org/about.html.

Appendix C

Recommended Reading List for Catholic Schools in the United States

Catholic school students in the United States should be familiar with most of these core works and authors. The recommendations on this list are minimal by design so as to make it possible to introduce students to the “great conversation” of both Western and Catholic culture. These works provide for basic cultural literacy and offer examples of excellent writing and storytelling. Schools will no doubt add significant additional texts to their curricula drawn from the hundreds of excellent works not on this short list.

Grades K-4 Recommended Literature

Critical Bible Stories

Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes

Aesop’s Fables

Adapted Greek and Roman myths

Selected fairy tales from Grimm

Selected fairy tales from Hans Christian Andersen

Folk tales

Other stories that reflect classical Western archetypes, teach morality, and/or emphasize fantasy and creativity

Extensive age-appropriate poetry

Grades 5-8 Recommended Literature

A Christmas Carol (Dickens)

A Wrinkle in Time (L’Engle)

Adam of the Road (Gray)

Amos Fortune, Free Man (Yates)

Anne of Green Gables (Montgomery)

Around the World in Eighty Days (Verne)

Beowulf: A New Telling (Nye)

Black Ships Before Troy: The Story of the Iliad (Lee)

Charlotte’s Web (White)

Cyrano de Bergerac (Rostand)

Death Comes for the Archbishop (Cather)

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Stevenson)

I, Juan de Pareja (de Trevino)

If All the Swords in England (Willard)

Johnny Tremain (Forbes)

Journey to the Center of the Earth (Verne)

King Arthur and His Knights (Green)

Legend of Sleepy Hollow (Irving)

Little House in the Big Woods (Wilder)

Little Women (Alcott)

My Antonia (Cather)

My Side of the Mountain (George)

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (Douglass)

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (Verne)

Our Town (Wilder)

Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry (Taylor)

Sarah Plain and Tall (Wilder)

Swallows and Amazons (Ransome)

The Adventures of Robin Hood (Green)

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Doyle)

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Twain)

The Bronze Bow (Speare)

The Call of the Wild (London)

The Chronicles of Narnia (Lewis)

The Crucible (Miller)

The Hobbit (Tolkien)

The Innocence of Father Brown [or others] (Chesterton)

The Jungle Book (Kipling)

The Lord of the Rings (Tolkien)

The Pearl (Steinbeck)

The Railway Children (Nesbit)

The Red Badge of Courage (Crane)

The Red Keep (French)

The Song at the Scaffold (Von le Fort)

The Story of Rolf and the Viking Bow (French)

The Swiss Family Robinson (Wyss)

The Trumpeter of Krakow (Kelly)

The Wanderings of Odysseus: The Story of the Odyssey (Lee)

The Witch of Blackbird Pond (Speare)

The Yearling (Rawlings)

Treasure Island (Stevenson)

Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Stowe)

Wind in the Willows (Grahame)

Grades 9-12 Recommended Historical Documents (original or in translation)

ApologyDialoguesRepublic [excerpts] (Plato)

Democracy in America [selections] (de Tocqueville)

Funeral Oration (Pericles)

Gettysburg Address (Lincoln)

Harvard Commencement Address and/or Nobel Lecture (Solzhenitsyn)

Histories [selections] (Herodotus)

I Have a Dream (King)

Magna Carta

PoeticsEthics [excerpts] (Aristotle)

Rights of Man (Paine)

“Self-Reliance” (Emerson)

Slave narratives (Douglass, Jacobs)

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (Franklin)

The Communist Manifesto (Marx)

The Federalist [selections] (Hamilton, et. al)

The Prince (Machiavelli)

The Rule of St. Benedict (Benedict of Nursia)

The Social Contract (Rousseau)

Treatise on Law and excerpts from other works (Aquinas)

United States Constitution

United States Declaration of Independence

Grades 9-12 Recommended Literary Works

A Man for All Seasons (Bolt)

A Tale of Two CitiesDavid CopperfieldGreat Expectations (Dickens)

Aeneid [excerpts] (Virgil)

Andromache or Medea (Euripides)

Animal Farm and/or 1984 (Orwell)

Antigone, Oedipus the KingOedipus at Colonus (Sophocles)

Beowulf (trans. Tolkien)

Billy BuddBartleby the Scrivener, and other short stories (Melville)

Brideshead Revisited (Waugh)

Brothers Karamazov or Crime and Punishment (Dostoyevsky)

Canterbury Tales [excerpts] (Chaucer)

Doctor Faustus (Marlow)

Frankenstein (Shelley)

HamletMacbeth, and if possible King Lear and others (Shakespeare)

Huckleberry Finn (Twain)

Jane Eyre (Bronte)

Le Morte D’Arthur (Malory)

Metamorphoses [excerpts] (Ovid)

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich or The Gulag Archipelago [abridged] (Solzhenitsyn)

Oresteia (Aeschylus)

Paradise Lost [excerpts] (Milton)

Pride and Prejudice (Austen)

Short stories (Poe)

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (anonymous)

The Betrothed (Manzoni)

The Divine Comedy [excerpts] (Dante)

The Epic of Gilgamesh (anonymous)

The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)

The Heart of Darkness (Conrad)

The Iliad [excerpts] (Homer)

The Man Who Was Thursday (Chesterton)

The Odyssey [excerpts or full] (Homer)

The Scarlet Letter (Hawthorne)

The Song of Roland (anonymous)

Recommended Catholic authors: Georges Bernanos, G.K. Chesterton, Shusaku Endo, Graham Greene, Victor Hugo, Flannery O’Connor, Walker Percy, Sigrid Undset, Evelyn Waugh

Recommended poets: Matthew Arnold, W. H. Auden, Hilaire Belloc, William Blake, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert Browning, Lord Byron, G.K. Chesterton, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Richard Crashaw, Emily Dickinson, John Donne, T.S. Eliot, Robert Frost, George Herbert, Gerard Manley Hopkins, A. E. Housman, John Keats, Joyce Kilmer, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Andrew Marvell, Alexander Pope, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Siegfried Sassoon, William Shakespeare, Percy Shelley, Robert Southwell, Edmund Spenser, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Dylan Thomas, Francis Thompson, William Wordsworth, William Butler Yeats

Recommended Spiritual Classics

Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Confessions [excerpts] (St. Augustine of Hippo)

Desert Fathers [excerpts]

Documents of Vatican II [selections]

Humanae Vitae

Introduction to the Devout Life [excerpts] (St. Francis de Sales)

Mere ChristianityScrewtape Letters, or The Abolition of Man (Lewis)

Summa Theologica [excerpts] (St. Thomas Aquinas)

The Imitation of Christ [excerpts] (Thomas a Kempis)

The Story of a Soul (St. Therese of Liseux)

Veritatis Splendor

Best Practice Suggestions for English Language Arts in Catholic Schools, Grades K-6

  • Choose a majority of readings from the Good Books List found in the appendix of The Death of Christian Culture (see Senior, J. in English Language Arts K-6 Resources) or recommended classics.
  • Avoid an overemphasis on informational texts. Great books engage higher order thinking skills and enhance student personal development, creativity, and engagement.
  • Especially with younger children, beware of stories of darkness, despair, or the occult or that confuse archetypes. Beware of stories that pursue a cultural agenda at odds with a Catholic understanding of human dignity, marriage, or sexuality.
  • Use multiple literary approaches beyond “close reading,” such as moral analysis, to examine a text. Do more with the text than clinically dissect and disaggregate it. Link it with life, context, and transcendent meaning.
  • Move into authentic “chapter books” and grade level adaptations of classics when possible. Avoid anthologies and readers. Tailor questions and assignments to the real-world experiences and natural questions of the readers in the class.
  • Situate the study of literature within an interdisciplinary approach so that the theology, history, philosophy, beliefs, and practices of the time develop the “story” and inform the discussion of historical events.
  • Develop a separate grammar course that begins to focus students on the structure of English writing and speaking in the 4th
  • Include the study of a foreign language, taught in a systematic (not conversational) style to help with English grammar and logic of thinking.
  • Integrate writing exercises and instruction with reading of sound literature written by expert craftsmen and women. Use imitation of author structure, tone, and craft to develop writing style.

Best Practice Suggestions for English Language Arts in Catholic Schools, Grades 7-12

  • Introduce students to the great conversations of humanity—especially as those conversations are advanced in literary classics. Choose a majority of readings from the Great Books or recommended classics. Avoid simply selecting currently popular, scandalous, or titillating texts in the hopes of getting the students to read. Authentic engagement and lasting human and intellectual development can arise from authentic and impassioned study of the things that matter most from the greatest minds who have walked the earth.
  • Read the greatest works by the greatest authors with an appropriate degree of humility and almost reverence, acknowledging that the great minds and artists have something to teach us, so as to grow in knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.
  • Avoid an overemphasis on informational texts. Great Books better engage higher order thinking skills and enhance student personal development, creativity, and engagement.
  • Whenever possible use a seminar format to discuss literature. Avoid canned materials, questions, or text units.
  • Use multiple literary approaches beyond “close reading” to examine a text, such as moral analysis, or analyzing the text as an expression of the author’s philosophical and theological beliefs. Do more with the text than clinically dissect and disaggregate it. Link it with life, context, and transcendent meaning.
  • Situate the study of literature within an interdisciplinary approach so that the theology, history, philosophy, beliefs, and practices of the time develop the “story” and inform the discussion of historical events.
  • Writing is thinking. Exploring great literature on weighty transcendent topics invites rich opportunity for writing assignments: reflective, creative, and analytical. Take advantage of this opportunity.
  • Good writing comes from good reading and good example. Use the beauty and skill evident in the works of the best writers to model and teach effective writing skills.

English Language Arts Resources, Grades K-6

Donohue, D., & Guernsey, D. (2015). Disconnect between Common Core’s literary approach and Catholic education’s pursuit of truth. Retrieved from http://www.newmansociety.org/Portals/0/Common%20Core/Disconnect%20between%20Common%20Core’s%20Literary%20Approach%20and%20Catholic%20Education’s%20Pursuit%20of%20Truth.pdf

Markey, S. (2014). The moral imagination: The heart and soul’s best guide achieving the goals of a Catholic education through the good, true, and beautiful in literature. Retrieved from http://www.archkck.org/file/schools_doc_file/curriculum/lang.arts/updated-july-2014/ The-Moral-Imagination-K-8.pdf

McKenzie, J. (2007). Reading the Saints: Lists of Catholic books for children plus book collecting tips for the home and school  library. Bessemer, MI: Biblio Resource Publications, Inc. This book categorizes by geographical location stories about saints.

Senior, J. (2008). The death of Christian culture. Norfolk, VA: IHS Press.

English Language Arts Resources, Grades 7-12

How to Teach a Socratic Seminar. National Paideia Center. See http://www.paideia.org/about-paideia/socratic-seminar/

Ignatius Press Critical Editions. Classical texts with curriculum suggestions, study guides, commentary and helpful resources. See http://www.ignatius.com /promotions/ignatiuscriticaleditions/

Pearce, J. How to Read Shakespeare (or Anyone Else). See https://s3.amazonaws.com/cardinalnewmansociety/wp-content/uploads/HowTo-Read- Joseph-Pearce.pdf

Socratic Teaching: Stimulating Life-long Learning. See http://www.catholicliberaleducation.org/beyond-the-test-newsletter/socratic-teaching-stimulating-life-long-learning

English Language Arts K-12 Curriculum

Stotsky, S. (2013). An English language arts curriculum framework for American public schools: A model. See http://alscw.org/news/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/2013_ELA_Curriculum_Framework.pdf for an example of a solid secular English language arts curriculum.

Appendix D

History Resources

Best Practice Suggestions for History in Catholic Schools, Grades K-6

  • Use an interdisciplinary approach – History, Literature, Theology.
  • Emphasize the sociological and cultural process and achievements, including moral values, over a series of disjointed events.
  • Use historical fiction to complement and elaborate on the stories of history.
  • Combine selections from historical texts discussing external developments surrounding Christendom with texts that study Christianity itself and its expressions of human thought, life, and institutions throughout the ages.
  • Consider dividing history into four or six successive time periods based on distinctive movements of culture. For instance: Ancient History – 5000 BC to 400 AD; Medieval/Early Renaissance 400 AD – 1600 AD; Late Renaissance/Early Modern 1600 AD – 1850 AD; Modern Times. Another option: 1. Patristic Christianity, from the first to the beginning of the fourth century; 2. Patristic Christianity, from the fourth to the sixth centuries; 3. The Formation of Western Christendom, from the sixth to the eleventh centuries; 4. Medieval Christendom, from the eleventh to the fifteenth centuries; 5. Divided Christendom, from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries; 6. Secularized Christendom, from the eighteenth century to today.

Best Practice Suggestions for History in Catholic Schools, Grades 7-12

  • Use an interdisciplinary approach – History, Literature, Theology.
  • Whenever possible use primary texts (or translations) in historical inquiry.
  • Whenever possible incorporate Socratic discussions into history.
  • Emphasize the sociological and cultural process and achievements, including moral values, over a series of disjointed events.

History – Resources

Catholic Textbook Project: From sea to shining sea, All ye lands, Light to the nations Part I & II, Lands of hope and promise. (Teacher manuals and student workbooks).

Massachusetts history and social science curriculum framework: August 2003. Recommended by Dr. Sandra Stotsky.

Weidenkopf, S. (2009). Epic: A journey through Church history. Contains DVDs, CDs, Student Workbook, and Time-line.

Appendix E

Science Resources

Best Practice Suggestions for Science in Catholic Schools

  • Present scientific concepts from a superordinate (whole view) perspective before breaking them down into subordinate concepts. This approach (whole to part) can manifest itself in the alignment of courses of study (general biology in younger grades to micro-biology in high school) to the organization and presentation of curricular materials (superordinate concepts first then parallel and underlying concepts).
  • Incorporate nature notebooks for observation to facilitate opportunities of wonder and awe (K-6).
  • Formation of set groups of teachers at workshops designed to address scientific issues of human and cosmic origin from philosophical and theological perspectives (i.e., religion and science teachers, religion and math teachers, and religion and literature teachers). These groupings are to facilitate dialogue and build an inter-disciplinary culture within the school. This will allow theology teachers to address scientific topics from a theological perspective as they are concurrently being taught in the science classroom.
  • Avoid interjection of theological doctrine into scientific inquiry in older grades. Consider incorporating a course designed specifically for the discussion of topics of faith and reason.
  • Supplement all science textbooks with biographies of Catholic scientists, such as Copernicus, Mendel, Bacon, St. Albert the Great, and so forth.
  • Consider using an apologetic approach based on facts and evidence (7-12) (Magis Center materials).

Science Resources

Baglow, C. (2012). Faith, science, and reason: Theology on the cutting edge. Midwest Theological Forum, Woodridge: IL.

Designed as a senior-level high school theology course to integrate faith and science. Contains twelve chapters with supplementary reading, study guide (vocabulary, study questions, and practical exercises) and endnotes. Beautiful artwork enhances the scientific content on the sleek pages of this textbook yet coffee table-styled volume.

Sample from Christopher Baglow’s book:

“What do we have to believe before we can hope to become scientists? We must believe that the world is in some sense good, so that it is worthy of careful study. We must believe that his order is open to the human mind, for otherwise there would be no point in trying to find it. We must believe that this order is not a necessary order that could be found out by pure thought like the truths of mathematics, but is rather a contingent or dependent order that can only be found by making experiments. …the development of science depends on moral convictions such as the obligation freely to share any knowledge that is gained.” (pp. 19-21)

John Paul II. (June 1988). Letter to Rev. George Coyne, S.J. Director of the Vatican Observatory. Retrieved fromhttp://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/letters/1988/documents/hf_jp-ii_let_19880601_padre-coyne.html

John Paul II. (October 22, 1996). Message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences: On evolution. Retrieved from http://www.ewtn.com/library/papaldoc/jp961022.htm

Laracy, J. (May-June 2010). Priestly contributions to modern science: The case of Monseignor Georges Lemaitre. Faith Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.faith.org.uk/article/may-june-2010-priestly-contributions-to-modern-sciencethe-case-of-monseignor-georges-lemaitre

Magis Center. www.magiscenter.org

Pius XII. (August, 1950). Humani Generis. Retrieved from http://w2.vatican.va/content/pius-xii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xii_enc_12081950_humani-generis.html

Spitzer, R. (2010). New proofs for the existence of God: Contributions of contemporary physics and philosophy. Wm. B. Eerdmans  Publishing Co. Grand Rapids, MI.

Spitzer, R. (2015). The soul’s upward yearning. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Grand Rapids, MI. Of particular interest might be Chapter 5 on the science behind the transcendent soul and Appendix One on a contemporary view of evidence for an Intelligent Creator.

Spitzer, R. and LeBlanc, C. The reason series. Video series, student workbook and teacher resource manual. This series is designed for high school students (9-12) in either science or religion classes. It is designed with an apologetic approach in mind as recommended by the USCCB’s 2008 Doctrinal Elements of a Curriculum Framework for the Development of Catechetical Materials for Young People of High School Age, with an alignment to the Framework in the teacher’s manual. The series includes 5 sequential video modules progressing students through the questions of: Can science disprove God? Is there any evidence for a creator in the universe? Is the universe random and meaningless? Does the bible conflict with science? Does the bible conflict with evolution? Student objectives, summarized points, review questions, and quizzes are included for each chapter. Teacher manual has answers to quizzes, but not discussion questions.

Spitzer, R. and Noggle, M. From Nothing to cosmos. (2015). This interactive workbook links text content to online resources through both QR codes and web URLs. Topics include: What science can and cannot do, The Big Bang Theory and the modern universe, The Borde-Vilenkin-Guth proof for a beginning of ANY universe or multiverse, The evidence for a beginning from entropy, Evidence of supernatural design from fine-tuning of universal constants, A response to atheist’s objections (particularly, Richard Dawkins), A metaphysical proof of God, Evidence of a transphysical soul from near death experiences, Evidence of a transcendent soul from our five transcendental desires, and Atheism, the bible, science, and evolution and aliens. Chapter review and summary questions are included for each chapter.

Appendix F

Mathematics Resources

Best Practice Suggestions for Mathematics in Catholic Schools, Grades K-6

  • Ensure developmental appropriate mathematics instruction in younger grades. Beware of mathematical programs that push abstract operations too quickly into younger minds.
  • Ensure a positive approach to mathematical inquiry by maximizing student success and confidence in early mathematical experiences and incorporating opportunities for joy, wonder, and excitement in the study of mathematics.

Best Practice Suggestions for Mathematics in Catholic Schools, Grades 7-12

  • Consider an interdisciplinary, liberal arts approach to mathematics, especially in high school.
  • Professional development in philosophy, especially philosophers who have greatly impacted the Catholic western tradition.

Abstractions of the Human Mind

What one abstracts from reality is basic but fundamental, though what is constructed out of the abstraction is much more important in the study of mathematics. For example, one can take in at a glance a small number of apples, say 5 or 6, but not as many as 100 or 1,000. Mathematics teaches us how to construct these numbers in our mind from the simpler concepts immediately abstracted from reality.

Mathematics Resources

Ashley, B. The arts of learning and communication: A handbook of the liberal arts. http://www.amazon.com/Arts-Learning-Communication-Handbook-Liberal/dp/1606089315/ref=la_B001HD41Q8_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1452700470&sr=1-7

Ashley, B. The way toward wisdom: An interdisciplinary and intercultural introduction to metaphysics. http://www.amazon.com/Way-toward-Wisdom-Interdisciplinary-Intercultural/dp/0268020353/ref=la_B001HD41Q8_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1452700831

Appendix G

Consultants and Contributors

Joseph Almeida, Ph.D. – Franciscan University of Steubenville: Chair of Department of Classics, Director of Great Books Honors Program, Director of Legal Studies Program, Professor of Classics and Legal Studies

Dominic Aquila, D. Litt. et Phil. – University of St. Thomas, Tex.: Provost, Vice President for Academic Affairs

Christopher Baglow, Ph.D. – Notre Dame Seminary: Director of Masters Program, Professor of Dogmatic Theology

Anthony Esolen, Ph.D. – Providence College: Professor of English

Joseph Pearce – Aquinas College, Tenn.: Director of the Aquinas Center for Faith and Culture, Writer in Residence; St. Austin Review: Editor; Ignatius Critical Editions: Series Editor; Catholic Courses: Executive Director

Chad Pecknold, Ph.D. – Catholic University of America: Associate Professor of Systematic Theology

Andrew Seeley, Ph.D. – Thomas Aquinas College: Tutor; The Institute for Catholic Liberal Education: Executive Director

Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J. –Magis Center: President; Gonzaga University: retired President

Sandra Stotsky, Ph.D. – University of Arkansas: Professor Emerita

Ryan Topping, D.Phil. – Thomas More College of Liberal Arts: Fellow

Gregory Townsend, Ph.D. – Christendom College: Vice President of Academic Affairs, Associate Professor Mathematics and Natural Science

Michael Van Hecke, M.Ed. – Catholic Textbook Project: President; The Institute for Catholic Liberal Education: President; St. Augustine Academy: Headmaster

Susan Waldstein, S.T.D. – Ave Maria University: Adjunct Professor of Theology, Research Fellow at Stein Center for Social Research

Christopher Zehnder, M.A.– Catholic Textbook Project: General Editor

Reviewing Dioceses:

Mark Salisbury, Superintendent, Diocese of Marquette, Michigan

Michael Juhas, Superintendent, Diocese of Pensacola, Florida

References

Aristotle, & Ross, W. D. (1981). Aristotle’s metaphysic. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press.

Aquinas, T. (1952). Questiones disputatae de veritate: Questions 1-9. Translated by Robert Mulligan, S.J., Henry Regnery Company.

Aquinas, T. (1912). The summa theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas. London, England: Burns Oates & Washbourne.

Baglow, C. (2012). Faith, science, and reason: Theology on the cutting edge. Woodridge, IL: Midwest Theological Forum.

Beckwith, F., & Koukl, G. (1998). Relativism: Feet firmly planted in midair.  Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

Caldecott, S. (2009).  Beauty for truth’s sake: The re-enchantment of education. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press.

Catechetical Office of the Holy See (1935).  Provido sane consilio. Retrieved from  https://www.ewtn.com/library/CURIA/CATTEACH.HTM

Catholic Church (1994). Catechism of the Catholic Church. Liguori, MO: Liguori Publications.

Clayton, D. (2015). The way of beauty: Liturgy, education, and inspiration for family, school, and college. Kettering, OH: Angelico Press.

Congregation for Catholic Education (2015).  Educating today and tomorrow: A renewing passion. Retrieved from http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccatheduc/documents/rc_con_ccatheduc_doc_20140407_educare-oggi-e-domani_en.html

Congregation for Catholic Education (2013). Educating to intercultural dialogue in Catholic schools: Living in harmony for a civilization of love. Retrieved from http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccatheduc/documents/rc_con_ccatheduc_doc_20131028_dialogo-interculturale_en.html

Congregation for Catholic Education (2007). Educating together in Catholic schools: A shared mission between consecrated persons and the lay faithful. Retrieved from http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccatheduc/documents/rc_con_ccatheduc_doc_20070908_educare-insieme_en.html

Congregation for Catholic Education (1998). The religious dimension of education in a Catholic school. Retrieved from  http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccatheduc/documents/rc_con_ccatheduc_doc_19880407_catholic-school_en.html

Congregation for Catholic Education (1997).  The Catholic school on the threshold of the third millennium. Retrieved from http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccatheduc/documents/rc_con_ccatheduc_doc_27041998_school2000_en.html

Congregation for Catholic Education (1982).  Lay Catholics in schools: Witnesses to faith. Retrieved from http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccatheduc/documents/rc_con_ccatheduc_doc_19821015_lay-catholics_en.html

Ditmanson, H., Hong, H., & Quanbeck, W. (Eds.) (1960). Christian faith and the liberal arts. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House.

Dubay, T. (1999). The evidential power of beauty: Science and theology meet. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press.

Esolen, A. (2013, November). Common core’s substandard writing standards. Crisis Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.crisismagazine.com/2013/common-cores-substandard-writing-standards

Francis, Pope (2015). Laudato Si. Retrieved from  http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html

Halpin, P. (1909). Christian pedagogy or the instruction and moral training of youth. New York, NY: J.F. Wagner.

Hancock, C. (2005). Recovering a Catholic philosophy of elementary education. Mount Pocono, PA: Newman House Press.

Hardon, J. (1980). Modern Catholic dictionary. New York, NY: Image Books.

Hart, D. (2003). The beauty of the infinite: The aesthetics of Christian truth. Cambridge, U.K.: Eerdmann’s Publishing.

Hicks, D. (1999). Norms and nobility: A treatise on education. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

John Paul II (1998). Fides et ratio. Retrieved from http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_14091998_fides-et-ratio.html

John Paul II (1996). Message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences: On evolution, 1996. Retrieved from https://www.ewtn.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP961022.HTM

John Paul II (1993). Veritatis splendor. Retrieved from http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_06081993_veritatis-splendor.html

John Paul II (1988). Letter of His Holiness John Paul II to Reverend George V. Coyne, S.J. Director of the Vatican Observatory. Retrieved from https://w2.vatican.va /content/john-paul-ii/en/letters/1988/documents/hf_jp-ii_let_19880601_padre-coyne.html

Jordan, E. (1934). Catholicism in education. New York, NY: Benzinger Brothers.

Kirk, R. (1981). The moral imagination. Literature and Belief, 1, 37-49. Retrieved from http://www.kirkcenter.org/index.php/detail/the-moral-imagination/

Laracy, J. (2010, January). Priestly contributions to modern science: The case of Monseignor Georges Lemaitre. Retrieved from http://www.faith.org.uk/article/may-june-2010-priestly-contributions-to-modern-sciencethe-case-of-monseignor-georges-lemaitre

Leo XIII (1985). Spectata fides. Retrieved from. http://w2.vatican.va/content/leo-xiii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_27111885_spectata-fides.html

Mannoia, V.J. (2000). Christian liberal arts: An education that goes beyond. Oxford, England: Rowman and Littlefield Co.

Moore, T. (2013). The story-killers: A common-sense case against the Common Core. Self-published.

Newman, J. (1873). The idea of a university: Defined and illustrated. London, England: Pickering.

O’Brien, M. (1998). A landscape with dragons. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press.

Pieper, J. (1998). Leisure, the basis of culture. South Bend, IN: St. Augustine’s Press.

Piderit, J. and Morey, M. (Eds.) (2012). Teaching the tradition: Catholic themes in academic disciplines. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Pius XI (1929).  Divini illius magistri, Retrieved from http://w2.vatican.va/content/pius-xi/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xi_enc_31121929_divini-illius-magistri.html

Redden, J. & Ryan, F. (1942). A Catholic philosophy of education. Milwaukee, WI: The Bruce Publishing Company.

Saward, J. (1997). The beauty of holiness and the holiness of beauty: Art sanctity and the truth of Catholicism. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press.

Simmons, T. (2002). Climbing parnassus. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books.

Spitzer, R. (2010). New proofs for the existence of God. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Spitzer, R. (2011). Ten universal principles: A brief philosophy of the life issues. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press.

Spitzer, R. (2015). The soul’s upward yearning. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press.

Spitzer, R. & LeBlanc, C. (n.d.). The reason series: What science says about God. Garden Grove, CA: Magis Publications.

Spitzer, R. & Noggle, M. (2015). From nothing to cosmos: The workbook+. Garden Grove, CA: Magis Publications.

The Sacred Congregation for Catholic Schools (1997). The Catholic school. Retrieved from http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccatheduc/documents/rc_con_ccatheduc_doc_19770319_catholic-school_en.html

Taylor, J. (1998). Poetic knowledge: The recovery of education. Albany, NY: The State University of New York Press.

Topping, R. (2015). Renewing the mind: A reader in the philosophy of Catholic education. Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University Press.

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) (n.d.). Seven themes of Catholic social teaching. Retrieved from  http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catholic-social-teaching/seven-themes-of-catholic-social-teaching.cfm

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) (1972). To teach as Jesus did. Washington, D.C.: USCCB.

Vatican II (1965). Gravissimum educationis: Declaration on Christian education. Retrieved from http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decl_19651028_gravissimum-educationis_en.html

Vatican II (1965). Gaudium et spes: Pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world. Retrieved from http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19651207_gaudium-et-spes_en.html

Reference Tables for Standards

CATHOLIC CURRICULAR STANDARDS AND DISPOSITIONS IN ENGLISH/LANUGAGE ARTS K-6
      General Standards
CS ELA.K6 GS1 The Catholic School, 37; O’Donnell, A. (2012). Poetry and Catholic themes. In J. Piderit & M. Morey (Eds.), Teaching the tradition. Catholic Themes in academic disciplines. (pp. 126).
CS ELA.K6 GS2 The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School, 57.
CS ELA.K6 GS3 Senior, J. (1983). The restoration of Christian culture. In R. Topping (Ed.), Renewing the mind: A reader in the philosophy of Catholic education, (pp. 313, 320).
CS ELA.K6 GS4 The Catholic School, 12.
      Intellectual Standards
CS ELA.K6 IS1 Gaudium et Spes, 59.
CS ELA.K6 IS2 O’Brien, M. p.41-42. See also Reed and Redden p.94
CS ELA.K6 IS3 O’Brien, M. p.41-42
CS ELA.K6 IS4 O’Brien, M. p. 41-42
CS ELA.K6 IS7 Moore, T. p. 50.
CS ELA.K6 IS8 Gaudium et Spes, 59; Lay Catholics in Schools: Witnesses to Faith, 12.
CS ELA.K6 IS9 The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School, 58.
CS ELA.K6 IS10 Lay Catholics in Schools: Witnesses to Faith, 12.
CS ELA.K6 IS12 Kirk, R. (1981). The moral imagination.  Literature and Belief, Vol. 1, 37–49.
CS ELA.K6 IS13 Lay Catholics in Schools: Witnesses to Faith, 12; Gaudium et Spes, 59.
      Writing Standards
CS ELA.K6 WS1 Halpin, P.A., p. 83
CS ELA.K6 WS2 The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School, 49.
CS ELA.K6 WS3 Thomas Aquinas College http://www.thomasaquinas.edu/a-liberating-education/course-descriptions#logic-tutorial
      Dispositional Standards
CS ELA.K6 AD1 Gaudium et Spes, 62; Ave Maria University, https://www.avemaria.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Academic-Catalogue-2014-2015_091020141.pdf p.144
CS ELA.K6 AD2 Ibid.
CS ELA.K6 AD3 Lay Catholics in Schools: Witnesses to Faith, 12.
CS ELA.K6 AD4 Dubay, T. p.12; Franciscan University Steubenville Academic Catalog. http://www.franciscan.edu/undergraduate-catalog/ p.180
CS ELA.K6 AD5 Hicks, D. p. 35-38
CS ELA.K6 AD6 Lay Catholics in Schools: Witnesses to Faith, 12.
CS ELA.K6 AD7 Taylor, J. p.4; Halpin, P.A., & Wagner, J. p.
CS ELA.K6 AD8 The Catholic School, 36 & 12; Ditmanson, H., Hong, H., & Quanbeck, W. p. 156-157
CATHOLIC CURRICULAR STANDARDS AND DISPOSITIONS IN ENGLISH/LANUGAGE ARTS 7-12
      General Standards
CS ELA.712 GS1 The Catholic School, 37. See also O’Donnell, A. (2012). Poetry and Catholic themes. In J. Piderit, & M. Morey (Eds.), Teaching the tradition. Catholic themes in academic disciplines. p.126.
CS ELA.712 GS2 The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School, 57.
CS ELA.712 GS3 The Catholic School, 12.
CS ELA.712 GS4 Gaudium et Spes, 62.
      Intellectual Standards
CS ELA.712 IS1 Moore, T., p. 91. See also Redden and Ryan p. 94-95; University of St. Thomas More http://www.thomasmorecollege.edu/academics/true-enlargement-of-mind/; Ditmanson, H., Hong, H., & Quanbeck, W. p. 157- 160;
CS ELA.712 IS2 O’Brien, M. p.41-42. See also Reed and Redden p.94.
CS ELA.712 IS3 O’Brien, M., p.12-13.
CS ELA.712 IS4 Ave Maria University, https://www.avemaria.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Academic-Catalogue-2014-2015_091020141.pdf p.144
CS ELA.712 IS5  O’Donnell, A. (2012). Poetry and Catholic themes. In J. Piderit, & M. Morey (Eds.), Teaching the tradition. Catholic themes in academic disciplines.p.112.  The
CS ELA.712 IS7 Kirk, Russell “The Moral imagination.” in Literature and Belief Vol. 1 (1981), 37–49.
CS ELA.712 IS8 The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School, 51.
CS ELA.712 IS9 Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School, 55.
CS ELA.712 IS10 Lay Catholics in Schools: Witnesses to Faith, 12.
CS ELA.712 IS12 University of Dallas http://udallas.edu/offices/registrar/_documents/bulletin-2014-2015-final-singles.pdf pp. 146-148, see also John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, 3.
CS ELA.712 IS13 Taylor, J. p.22.
CS ELA.712 IS15 O’Donnell, A. (2012). Poetry and Catholic themes. In J. Piderit, & M. Morey (Eds.), Teaching the Tradition. Catholic Themes in Academic Disciplines. p. 112, 125.
      Writing Standards
CS ELA.712 WS1 Halpin, P.A., p. 83..
CS ELA.712 WS2 The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School, 49.
CS ELA.712 WS3 Thomas Aquinas College http://www.thomasaquinas.edu/a-liberating-education/course-descriptions#logic-tutorial
CS ELA.712 WS4 Esolen, A. (November, 2013).
      Dispositional Standards
CS ELA.712 AD1 Moore, T. p. 91. See also Redden and Ryan p. 94-95.
CS ELA.712 AD2 Hicks, D., p. 35; Simmons, T. p. 145; Ditmanson, H., Hong, H., & Quanbeck, W., p. 156-157.
CS ELA.712 AD3 Hicks, D., p. 35; Simmons, T., p. 145.
CS ELA.712 AD4 Dubay, T., p.12; Franciscan University Steubenville Academic Catalog. p.180 http://www.franciscan.edu/undergraduate-catalog/
CS ELA.712 AD5 Hicks, D. p. 35-38.
CS ELA.712 AD6 Redden, J. & Ryan, F., p. 92-95.
CS ELA.712 AD7 Taylor, J., p.4; Halpin, P.A., and Wagner, J., p. 127.
CATHOLIC CURRICULAR STANDARDS AND DISPOSITIONS IN HISTORY K-6
      General Standards
CS H.K6 GS1 The Catholic School, 8.
CS H.K6 GS2 Ditmanson, H., Hong, H., & Quanbeck, W., p. 181.
CS H.K6 GS3 Dawson, p. 301
      Intellectual Standards
CS H.K6 IS1 Ditmanson, H., Hong, H., & Quanbeck, W., p. 12; The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School, 58.
CS H.K6 IS2 www.magiscenter.com
CS H.K6 IS3 Pope John Paul II. Fides et Ratio, 11-12.
CS H.K6 IS4 Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy https://www.seatofwisdom.ca/academics/departments/history/
CS H.K6 IS5 The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School, 57.
CS H.K6 IS8 Ave Maria University Academic Catalog p. 134.
CS H.K6 IS9 University of Dallas Academic Bulletin. p. 159 http://udallas.edu/offices/registrar/_documents/bulletin-2014-2015-final-singles.pdf; Simmons, T., p. 20-21.
CS H.K6 IS10 Hicks, D., p.23; The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School, 59.
CS H.K6 IS11 Simmons, T., p. 14; Christendom College Academic Principles.  http://www.christendom.edu/academics/education-principles-overview/
CS H.K6 IS12 The Catholic School on the Threshold of the Third Millennium, 14.
      Dispositional Standards
CS H.K6 AD1 Pope John Paul II. Fides et Ratio, 8.
CS H.K6 AD2 Simmons, T., p. 209-210.
CS H.K6 AD3 Lay Catholics in Schools: Witnesses to Faith, 12.
CS H.K6 AD4 Educating Together in Catholic Schools, A Shared Mission Between Consecrated Persons and the Lay Faithful, 46.
CATHOLIC CURRICULAR STANDARDS AND DISPOSITIONS IN HISTORY INSTRUCTION 7-12
      General Standards
CS H.712 GS1 Ditmanson, H., Hong, H., & Quanbeck, W. p. 12; The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School, 58.
CS H.712 GS2 ·            Pope John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, 93.
CS H.712 GS3 Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy https://www.seatofwisdom.ca/academics/departments/history/
CS H.712 GS4 Hicks, D., p.23; The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School, 58.
CS H.712 GS5 ·           Ave Maria University Academic Catalog p. 134. https://www.avemaria.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Academic-Catalogue-2014-2015_091020141.pdf
      Intellectual Standards
CS H.712 IS1 Ditmanson, H., Hong, H., & Quanbeck, W. p. 180.
CS H.712 IS2 ·            Pope John Paul II. Fides et Ratio, 11- 12.
CS H.712 IS3 ·            Hancock, C., p. 41; Lay Catholics in Schools: Witnesses to Faith, 20; The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School, 59; The Religious Dimension of

 

·            Education in a Catholic School, 88.

CS H.712 IS4     Ditmanson, H., Hong, H., & Quanbeck, W. p. 180.
CS H.712 IS5 ·             Educating to Intercultural Dialogue in Catholic Schools: Living in Harmony for a Civilization of Love, 30.
CS H.712 IS6 Dawson, C. (2010). Crisis in Western education (2010). In R. Topping’s (Ed.), Renewing the mind: A reader in the philosophy of Catholic education. (p. 301).
CS H.712 IS7 The Catholic School on the Threshold of the Third Millennium, 14.
CS H.712 IS8 Ave Maria University Academic Catalog p. 134.
CS H.712 IS9 Simmons, T., p. 20; Christendom College Academic Principles  http://www.christendom.edu/academics/education-principles-overview/
CS H.712 IS10 Mannoia, V., p. 84; Ditmanson, H., Hong, H., & Quanbeck, W. p. 181; The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School, 58.
CS H.712 IS12 University of Dallas Academic Bulletin. P. 159 http://udallas.edu/offices/registrar/_documents/bulletin-2014-2015-final-singles.pdf
CS H.712 IS13 Simmons, T., p. 142.
CS H.712 IS14 Simmons, T., p. 31.
CS H.712 IS15 Thomas Aquinas College Why We Study http://www.thomasaquinas.edu/a-liberating-education/why-we-study
CS H.712 IS16 The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School, 57.
CS H.712 IS17 The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School, 58; Educating Together in Catholic Schools, A Shared Mission, 46.
CS H.712 IS18 Hicks, D., p.23; The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School, 59.
CS H.712 IS20 Pope John Paul II, Laborem Exercens, 3.
CS H.712 IS21-25 USCCB. Seven themes of Catholic social teaching. http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catholic-social-teaching/seven-themes-of-catholic-social-teaching.cfm
CS H.712 IS26 The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School, 51, 108, 89.
CS H.712 IS27 Beckwirth, F. & Koukl, G. (1998). Relativism: Feet firmly planted in mid-air. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. How relativism presents a false understanding of cultural diversity and fails to distinguish how some cultures, like individuals, have discovered more knowledge and truth than others.
      Dispositional Standards
CS H.712 AD1 Pope John Paul II. Fides et Ratio, 8.
CS H.712 AD2 Simmons, T., p. 209-210..
CS H.712 AD3 Ditmanson, H., Hong, H., & Quanbeck, W. p.10..
CS H.712 AD4 Simmons, T., p. 20-21.
CS H.712 AD5 ·            The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School, 52.
CS H.712 AD6 Lay Catholics in Schools: Witnesses to Faith, 12.
CATHOLIC CURRICULAR STANDARDS AND DISPOSITIONS Related to Science Topics K-6
      General Standards
CS S.K6 GS1 The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School, 56, 57.
CS S.K6 GS2 The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School, 54; Baglow, C., p. 66.
      Intellectual Standards
CS S.K6 IS1 The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School, 54; Baglow, C., p. 65
CS S.K6 IS2 Baglow, C. Chapter 3; See Hodgson, P. Theology and modern physics, pp. 21-24 in Baglow, C. p. 58.
CS S.K6 IS4 Hodgson, P. Theology and modern physics, pp. 21-24 in Baglow, C., p. 58.
CS S.K6 IS6 CCC, 337-344; Baglow, Chapter 1.
CS S.K6 IS7 The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School, 54.
CS S.K6 IS8 Gaudium et Spes, 57; Baglow, C. p. 8-9.
CS S.K6 IS9 Baglow, C., p. 8-10.
CS S.K6 IS10 Gaudium et Spes, 57.
      Dispositional Standards
CS S.K6 AD1 Wyoming Catholic Academic Vision p. 21. http://www.wyomingcatholiccollege.com/data/files/gallery/AcademicDownloadsFileGallery/WCCVision1.pdf
CS S.K6 AD2 John Paul II. (1988). Letter of His Holiness John Paul II to Reverend George V. Coyne, S.J. Director of the Vatican Observatory.
CS S.K6 AD4 John Paul II. (1988). Letter of His Holiness John Paul II to Reverend George V. Coyne, S.J. Director of the Vatican Observatory
CATHOLIC CURRICULAR STANDARDS AND DISPOSITIONS Related to Science Topics 7-12
      General Standards
CS S.712 GS1 The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School, 56, 57.
CS S.712 GS2 John Paul II. Letter of His Holiness John Paul II to Reverend George V. Coyne, S.J. Director of the Vatican Observatory.
      Intellectual Standards
CS S.712 IS1 Baglow, Chapter 5; John Paul II, (1988). Letter of His Holiness John Paul II to Reverend George V. Coyne, S.J. Director of the Vatican Observatory.
CS S.712 IS2 Ave Maria University Academic Catalog p. 80. https://www.avemaria.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Academic-Catalogue-2014-2015_091020141.pdf
CS S.712 IS3 Jordan, E., p. 34, 55.
CS S.712 IS4 Pope John Paul II. Fides et Ratio, 106.
CS S.712 IS6 The Catholic School, 56.
CS S.712 IS7 Pope Francis, Laudato si, 117.
CS S.712 IS8 Baglow, C., Chapters 1-2; Spitzer, R. The soul’s upward yearning, p.130 & Appendix One; John Paul II, (1988). Letter of His Holiness John Paul II to Reverend George V. Coyne, S.J. Director of the Vatican Observatory; John Paul II, (1996). Message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences: on Evolution.
CS S.712 IS9 Pope John Paul II. Fides et Ratio, 88; Baglow, C., p. 24-26.
CS S.712 IS10 Ibid.
CS S.712 IS11 Baglow, C., pp. 68-73; See http://www.faith.org.uk/article/may-june-2010-priestly-contributions-to-modern-sciencethe-case-of-monseignor-georges-lemaitre
CS S.712 IS12 Putz, O. Evolutionary biology in a Catholic framework, In Piderit, J., & Morey, M. (2012). Teaching the tradition, p. 307 – 329.
CS S.712 IS15 Spitzer, R., The soul’s upward yearning. Appendix One; Spitzer, R. (2010). New proofs for the existence of God; Spitzer, R. & LeBlanc, C., The Reason Series: What science says about God. Student Workbook, pp.41-51; Spitzer, R. & Noggle, M. From nothing to cosmos: The workbook+, pp. 68-71
      Dispositional Standards
CS S.712 AD1 Wyoming Catholic Academic Vision p. 21. http://www.wyomingcatholiccollege.com/data/files/gallery/AcademicDownloadsFileGallery/WCCVision1.pdf
CS S.712 AD2 John Paul II, Letter of His Holiness John Paul II to Reverend George V. Coyne, S.J. Director of the Vatican Observatory.
CS S.712 AD3 Francis, Pope. Laudato Si, 84-86, 117.
CS S.712 AD4 USCCB. Seven themes of Catholic social teaching. http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catholic-social-teaching/seven-themes-of-catholic-social-teaching.cfm
CS S.712 AD5 Spitzer, R., The soul’s upward yearning. Appendix One, conclusion.
CATHOLIC CURRICULAR STANDARDS AND DISPOSITIONS IN MATHEMATICS K-6
      General Standards
CS M.K6 GS1 Schweitzer, P.A., (2012). Mathematics, reality, and God. In J. Piderit, & M. Morey (Eds.), Teaching the tradition. Catholic themes in academic disciplines (p.248).
CS M.K6 GS3 Thomas Aquinas College, Why we study math by Brian Kelly.  http://thomasaquinas.edu/a-liberating-education/why-we-study-mathematics; Christendom College http://www.christendom.edu/2014/11/11/christendom-college-launches-mathematics-major/
      Dispositional Standards
CS M.K6 AD1 Thomas Aquinas College, Why we study math by Brian Kelly.  http://thomasaquinas.edu/a-liberating-education/why-we-study-mathematics; Clayton, D. Chpt. 5-7.

 

Christendom College, Why mathematics in the liberal arts tradition matters. http://www.christendom.edu/2015/08/20/why-mathematics-in-the-liberal-arts-tradition-matters/

CS M.K6 AD2 Thomas Aquinas College, Why we study math by Brian Kelly.  http://thomasaquinas.edu/a-liberating-education/why-we-study-mathematics; Clayton, D. pp. 65-66.
CS M.K6 AD 3-4 Christendom College, Why mathematics in the liberal arts tradition matters. http://www.christendom.edu/2015/08/20/why-mathematics-in-the-liberal-arts-tradition-matters/
CATHOLIC CURRICULAR STANDARDS AND DISPOSITIONS IN MATHEMATICS 7-12
      General Standards
CS M.712 GS1 Schweitzer, P.A., (2012). Mathematics, reality, and God. In J. Piderit, & M. Morey (Eds.), Teaching the tradition. Catholic themes in academic disciplines (p.248).
CS M.712 GS3 Thomas Aquinas College, Why we study math by Brian Kelly.  http://thomasaquinas.edu/a-liberating-education/why-we-study-mathematics
CS M.712 GS4 Schweitzer, P.A., (2012). Mathematics, reality, and God. In J. Piderit, & M. Morey (Eds.), Teaching the tradition. Catholic themes in academic disciplines (p.233-234).
      Intellectual Standards
CS M.712 IS1 Schweitzer, P.A., (2012). Mathematics, reality, and God. In J. Piderit, & M. Morey (Eds.), Teaching the tradition. Catholic themes in academic disciplines (p.240).
CS M.712 IS2 Ave Maria University Academic Catalogue, p. 150.
CS M.712 IS3 Ibid.
CS M.712 IS4 Clayton, D. pp.97-98.
CS M.712 IS5 Schweitzer, P.A., (2012). Mathematics, reality, and God. In J. Piderit, & M. Morey (Eds.), Teaching the tradition. Catholic themes in academic disciplines (p.245).
CS M.712 IS6 Schweitzer, P.A., (2012). Mathematics, reality, and God. In J. Piderit, & M. Morey (Eds.), Teaching the tradition. Catholic themes in academic disciplines (p.241); Clayton, D. pp. 168-170.
CS M.712 IS8 Schweitzer, P.A., (2012). Mathematics, reality, and God. In J. Piderit, & M. Morey (Eds.), Teaching the tradition. Catholic themes in academic disciplines (p.242).
      Dispositional Standards
CS M.712 AD1 Schweitzer, P.A., (2012). Mathematics, reality, and God. In J. Piderit, & M. Morey (Eds.), Teaching the tradition. Catholic themes in academic disciplines (p.241).
CS M.712 AD2 Schweitzer, P.A., (2012). Mathematics, reality, and God. In J. Piderit, & M. Morey (Eds.), Teaching the tradition. Catholic themes in academic sisciplines (p.248).
CS M.712 AD3 Thomas Aquinas College, Why we study math by Brian Kelly.  http://thomasaquinas.edu/a-liberating-education/why-we-study-mathematics; Clayton D. Chapter 5.
CS M.712 AD4 Christendom College http://www.christendom.edu/news/2014/11-11-math.php.
CS M.712 AD5 Schweitzer, P.A., (2012). Mathematics, reality, and God. In J. Piderit, & M. Morey (Eds.), Teaching the tradition. Catholic Themes in academic disciplines (pp.229 – 232). Thomas Aquinas College, Why we study math by Brian Kelly.  http://thomasaquinas.edu/a-liberating-education/why-we-study-mathematics
CS M.712 AD8 Belmont Abbey Academic Catalogue p.157. http://belmontabbey.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/BAC-2014-2015-Catalogue_18JUL2014.pdf;

Church Documents for Catholic School Teachers: Annotated Bibliography

Pope Leo XIII. (1865). Spectata Fides. Retrieved from http://w2.vatican.va/content/leo-xiii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_27111885_spectatafides.html

This very brief encyclical by Pope Leo XIII advances the benefits of a Catholic education.

In these days, and in the present condition of the world, when the tender age of childhood is threatened on every side by so many and such various dangers, hardly anything can be imagined more fitting than the union with literary instruction of sound teaching in faith and morals… For it is in and by these schools that the Catholic faith, our greatest and best inheritance, is preserved whole and entire. In these schools the liberty of parents is respected; and, what is most needed, especially in the prevailing license of opinion and of action, it is by these schools that good citizens are brought up for the State… The wisdom of our forefathers, and the very foundations of the State, are ruined by the destructive error of those who would have children brought up without religious education. You see, therefore Venerable Brethren, with what earnest forethought parents must beware of entrusting their children to schools in which they cannot receive religious teaching. (#4)

Pope Pius XI. (1929). Divini illius magistri. Retrieved from http://w2.vatican.va/content/pius-xi/en/encyclicals/documents/ hf_p-xi_enc_31121929_divini-illius-magistri.html

This all-encompassing, seminal encyclical on Catholic education was written by Pope Pius XI. The document elaborates on the mission, focus, circumstances, and final end of Catholic education. He begins by stating, “It is therefore as important to make no mistake in education, as it is to make no mistake in the pursuit of the last end, with which the whole work of education is intimately and necessarily connected. In fact, since education consists essentially in preparing man for what he must be and for what he must do here below, in order to attain the sublime end for which he was created, it is clear that there can be no true education which is not wholly directed to man’s last end, and that in the present order of Providence, since God has revealed Himself to us in the Person of His Only Begotten Son, who alone is ‘the way, the truth and the life,’ there can be no ideally perfect education which is not Christian education” (#7). The means of Catholic education includes the permeation of religion throughout all subjects and grades of schooling for “…it is necessary not only that religious instruction be given to the young at certain fixed times, but also that every subject taught, be permeated with Christian piety,” because “if this is wanting, if this sacred atmosphere does not pervade and warm the hearts of masters and scholars alike, little good can be expected from any kind of learning, and considerable harm will often be the consequence” (#80). He allows no excuse for not properly forming the consciences of young people and states this is well within the Church’s maternal supervision. The document discusses the role of parents and the State to provide education to young people.

The Pope condemns new methods of instruction based on naturalism, stating that man is both body and soul, with a fallen nature that can be elevated by God’s grace. He laments the movement by educational institutions away from the foundations of Christianity, stating a Christocentric anthropology of man and his relationship with God should be the center of the educational enterprise.

The Pope acknowledges the important role of teachers: “Perfect schools are the result not so much of good methods as of good teachers, teachers who are thoroughly prepared and well-grounded in the matter they have to teach; who possess the intellectual and moral qualifications required by their important office; who cherish a pure and holy love for the youths confided to them, because they love Jesus Christ and His Church, of which these are the children of predilection; and who have therefore sincerely at heart the true good of family and country” (#88).

Pope Pius XI. (1935). Provido sane consilio.Retrieved from https://www.ewtn.com/library/CURIA/CATTEACH.HTM

This short document was issued by the Catechetical Office of the Holy See under Pope Pius XI to address the urgency that Catholic doctrine be taught in all parishes, schools, and colleges and that those teaching the faith be qualified and attend annual catechetical conventions and other meetings to discuss the best methods of catechetical instruction (#34-35). Also, special “Courses of Lectures on Religion [are to] be offered each year to those who teach Christian doctrine in parochial and public schools, in order that they will increase in the quality and depth of their knowledge” (#37).

Pope Paul VI. (1965). Gravissimum educationis. Retrieved from http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vatii_ decl_19651028_gravissimum-educationis_en.html

A declaration of Catholic education issued from the Second Vatican Council. This foundational document of Catholic education situates parents, by their God-given role, as the “primary and principle educators” of their children (#3) and the family as the “first school of the social virtues” (#3). It proclaims education as an inalienable right for all mankind and insists that the state should not usurp the choice of education available to families (#6). The document states that “a true education aims at the formation of the human person in the pursuit of his ultimate end” (#1). The Church, through her care and concern for her people, enters into the field of education not only to assist primarily in this formation, but also to “pursue cultural goals,” create a community “animated by the Gospel spirit of freedom and charity,” “help youth grow according to the new creatures they were made through baptism,” and “order the whole of human culture to the news of salvation” (#8). Teachers, “who aid parents in fulfilling their duties” of education and formation (#5), are recognized as individuals who must “possess special qualities of mind and heart,” because “beautiful indeed and of great importance” is their vocation (#5). Teachers are to be carefully prepared for their apostolate and continually ready to “renew and adapt” (#5). The document attempts to address all the many forms of Catholic education, including Catholic colleges and universities, advocating for coordination and cooperation among them.

In section 8 we read,

But let teachers recognize that the Catholic school depends upon them almost entirely for the accomplishment of its goals and programs. They should therefore be very carefully prepared so that both in secular and religious knowledge they are equipped with suitable qualifications and also with a pedagogical skill that is in keeping with the findings of the contemporary world. Intimately linked in charity to one another and to their students and endowed with an apostolic spirit, may teachers by their life as much as by their instruction bear witness to Christ, the unique Teacher. Let them work as partners with parents and together with them in every phase of education give due consideration to the difference of sex and the proper ends Divine Providence assigns to each sex in the family and in society. Let them do all they can to stimulate their students to act for themselves and even after graduation to continue to assist them with advice, friendship and by establishing special associations imbued with the true spirit of the Church. The work of these teachers, this sacred synod declares, is in the real sense of the word an apostolate most suited to and necessary for our times and at once a true service offered to society. The Council also reminds Catholic parents of the duty of entrusting their children to Catholic schools wherever and whenever it is possible and of supporting these schools to the best of their ability and of cooperating with them for the education of their children.

National Conference of Catholic Bishops. (1972). To teach as Jesus did. Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference.

This pastoral message was issued by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (United States) in response to the exhortation of the Second Vatican Council in Gravissimum Educationis. The document begins by stating, “Catholic education is an expression of the mission entrusted by Jesus to the Church He founded,” and “through education the Church seeks to prepare its members to proclaim the Good News and to translate this proclamation into action” (#7). “Christian vocation is a call to transform oneself and society with God’s help” (#7). Three main themes are proposed for Catholic education: message/doctrine (“integration of religious truth and values with life distinguishes the Catholic school from other schools,” #105); community including fellowship, life in Christ, and evangelization (“Building and living community must be prime, explicit goals of the contemporary Catholic School,” #108); and service including the transformation of society (“The experience of Christian community leads naturally to service,” #28). Scant mention is made about the qualities and characteristics of Catholic school teachers, aside from the very important facts that, “If the threefold purpose of Christian education is to be realized, it must be through their commitment to give instruction to their students, to build community among them, and to serve them” (#144) and the “integration of religious truth and values with the rest of life is brought about in the Catholic school… by the presences of teachers who express an integrated approach to learning and living in their private and professional lives” (#104).

National Conference of Catholic Bishops. (1976). Teach them. Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference.

This is a brief follow-up by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (United States) to To Teach as Jesus Did, addressing the present and future state of Catholic education in the United States. Many initiatives are suggested. The document reiterates the themes of Catholic education: “to teach doctrine, to build community, and to serve.”  Parent, teacher, administrator, pastor, and community roles in supporting Catholic education are discussed. Especially emphasized is “the new awareness that all members of the faculty, at least by their example, are an integral part of the process of religious education” and a “Teachers’ life style and character are as important as their professional credentials” (p.7). The twofold dimension of Catholic education as enfolding academic instruction with Christian formation is discussed stating, “the integration of religious truth and values with the rest of life” is a responsibility of teachers, because their “daily witness to the meaning of mature faith and Christian living has a profound impact upon the education and formation of their pupils” (p.3).

Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education. (1977). The Catholic School. Retrieved from http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccatheduc/documents/rc_con_ ccatheduc_doc_19770319_catholic-school_en.html

Published by the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, this document provides a deeper reflection of the Catholic school, especially in the areas of the nature and characteristics which lend to a school identifying itself as “Catholic.” The document begins by stating that the “Catholic school forms part of the saving mission of the Church” (#9), “provides a privileged environment for the complete formation of her members, and …also provides a highly important service to mankind” (#16). The school is considered a “centre of human formation,” and certain qualifiers must be in place or the school cannot be considered a Catholic school (25). The school must be a “place of integral formation” and “must begin from the principle that its educational programme is intentionally directed to the growth of the whole person” (#28). The Catholic school is also a place where “a systematic and critical assimilation of culture” exists (#26), where faith is integrated with culture and life, and where students are not only given the opportunity to excel academically but to live in a “community whose values are communicated through the interpersonal and sincere relationships of its members” (#32), especially the teachers who “in imitation of Christ, the only Teacher, they reveal the Christian message not only by word but also by every gesture of their behavior” (#43). The document states that the Catholic school must help the student “spell out the meaning of his experiences and their truths” (#27) and states that any school which does not do this “hinders the personal development of its pupils” (#27).

A Catholic school is founded on a Christian vision of life, with Christ as “the foundation of the whole educational enterprise” (#34), since He is “the Perfect Man” (#34). Redeemed by Him, “the Catholic school aims at forming in the Christian those particular virtues which will enable him to live a new life in Christ and help him to play faithfully his part in building up the Kingdom of God” (#36). To ensure this distinctive Christological emphasis, the local bishop has the authority to “watch over the orthodoxy of religious instruction and the observance of Christian morals in the Catholic schools,” but “it is the task of the whole educative community to ensure that a distinctive Christian educational environment is maintained in practice” (#73). Parents and especially teachers have the duty and obligation to ensure this distinctive character, especially “By their witness and their behavior” (#78).

Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education. (1982). Lay Catholics in schools: Witnesses to faith. Retrieved from http://www.vatican.va/roman_ curia/congregations/ccatheduc/documents/rc_con_ccatheduc_doc_19821015_lay-catholics_en.html

This document from the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education begins by stating the importance of all those who work in Catholic schools, “whether as teachers, directors, administrators, or auxiliary staff” (#1). These “will substantially determine whether or not a school realizes its aims and accomplishes it objectives” (#1). With this statement, we see the great importance and impact of even those individuals not directly hired as teachers to the total educational environment experienced by the student on a daily basis. As all people are called to a life of personal holiness, so too are those who work in Catholic schools, since they have a privileged opportunity for giving witness (#33).

The more completely an educator can give concrete witness to the model of the ideal person that is being presented to the students, the more this ideal will be believed and imitated. For it will then be seen as something reasonable and worthy of being lived, something concrete and realizable. It is in this context that the faith witness of the lay teacher becomes especially important. Students should see in their teacher the Christian attitude and behavior that is often so conspicuously absent from the secular atmosphere in which they live. Without this witness, living in such an atmosphere, they may begin to regard Christian behavior as an impossible ideal (#32)

“Lay Catholic teachers should be influenced by a Christian faith vision in the way they teach their course, to the extent that this is consistent with the subject matter” (#49), and should be seekers of the truth, which is found in Truth Himself, Christ. They should be active participants in the school and the surrounding community, so as to act as a conduit of Catholic culture and an evangelizer of the faith. Teachers in Catholic schools possess

Professional commitment; support of truth, justice and freedom; openness to the point of view of others, combined with an attitude of service; personal commitment to the students, and fraternal solidarity with everyone; [and] a life that is integrally moral in all its aspects. The lay Catholic who brings all of this to his or her work in a pluralist school[1] becomes a living mirror, in whom every individual in the educational community will see reflected an image of one inspired by the Gospel (#52).

Part III discusses the many dimensions of necessary formation for Catholic schoolteachers, and Part IV addresses the types and kinds of ecclesial and institutional support needed and available for lay teachers in Catholic schools whose work in education is part of the specific mission of the Church. That work includes

cultivating in student the intellectual, creative, and aesthetic faculties of the human person; to develop in them the ability to make correct use of their judgement, will, and affectivity; to promote in them a sense of values; to encourage just attitudes and prudent behavior; to introduce them to the cultural patrimony handed down from previous generations; to prepare them for professional life, and to encourage the friendly interchange among students of diverse cultures and backgrounds that will lead to mutual understanding (#12).

Canon Law Society of America. (1983). Code of canon law. Retrieved from http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P2N.HTM

Book III, Title III, Canons 793-806 are particular to grade schools operating under an ecclesial authority, independent or private schools using a Catholic faith-based curriculum, and parents.

Can. 795. Education must pay regard to the formation of the whole person, so that all may attain their eternal destiny and at the same time promote the common good of society. Children and young persons are therefore to be cared for in such a way that their physical, moral and intellectual talents may develop in a harmonious manner, so that they may attain a greater sense of responsibility and a right use of freedom, and be formed to take an active part in social life.

Can. 803 §2. Instruction and education in a Catholic school must be based on the principles of Catholic doctrine, and the teachers must be outstanding in true doctrine and uprightness of life.

Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education. (1988). The religious dimension of  education in a Catholic school. Retrieved from http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccatheduc/documents/rc_con_ ccatheduc _doc_19880407_catholic-school_en.html

This is the third of a trilogy of documents issued by the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education on Catholic education following the promulgation of Gravissimum Educationis in 1965. (The trilogy began with The Catholic School in 1977 and Lay Catholics in Schools: Witnesses to Faith in 1982.) This document offers general guidelines regarding the educational climate of a Catholic school which includes the building up of a school culture animated by faith. Catholic schools should not be seen as institutions, but as communities and extensions of family life, especially for elementary school students. The document discusses the complementary role of harmonious spiritual and academic formation of the students and again focuses upon the school climate to impress upon the reader that

strong determination is needed to do everything possible to eliminate conditions which threaten the health of the school climate. Some examples of potential problems are these: the educational goals are either not defined or are defined badly; those responsible for the school are not sufficiently trained; concern for academic achievement is excessive; relations between teachers and students are cold and impersonal; teachers are antagonistic toward one another; discipline is imposed from on high without any participation or cooperation from the students; relationships with families are formal or even strained, and families are not involved in helping to determine the educational goals; some within the school community are giving a negative witness; individuals are unwilling to work together for the common good; the school is isolated from the local Church; there is no interest in or concern for the problems of society; religious instruction is ‘routine’ (#104).

Discussion regarding the teaching of religion and the importance of catechesis of those receptive to the Christian message of salvation is presented with suggestions for methodology and to look for opportunities of “pre-evangelization: to the development of a religious sense of life” (#108), the “why,” “what,” and “how” of a culture purports a religious and ethical dimension. Frequent reference to Christ and God, the Father, as well as frequent prayer create a culture and climate that is genuinely Catholic.

Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education. (1995). The truth and meaning of human sexuality: Guidelines for education within the family. Retrieved from http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/family/documents/rc_pc_ family_doc_08121995_human-sexuality_en.html

This document from the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education was written for families, but it is applicable for educators and administrators overseeing courses on human sexuality in Catholic schools. As collaborators with parents in the education of their children, educators need to affirm the Church’s position that parents are the primary educators of their children. Included in this document are several quotes from Familiaris Consortio, one of which is, “Sex education, which is a basic right and duty of parents, must always be carried out under their attentive guidance, whether at home or in educational centers chosen and controlled by them. In this regard, the Church affirms the law of subsidiarity, which the school is bound to observe when it cooperates in sex education, by entering into the same spirit that animates the parents.” Also, the end of the document is a set of recommendations for all educators working in this area:

  1. Since each child or young person must be able to live his or her own sexuality in conformity with Christian principles, and hence be able to exercise the virtue of chastity, no educator—not even parents—can interfere with this right to chastity (cf. Matthew 18: 4-7) (#118).
  2. It is recommended that respect be given to the right of the child and the young person to be adequately informed by their own parents on moral and sexual questions in a way that complies with his or her desire to be chaste and to be formed in chastity. This right is further qualified by a child’s stage of development, his or her capacity to integrate moral truth with sexual information, and by respect for his or her innocence and tranquility (#119).
  3. It is recommended that respect be given to the right of the child or young person to withdraw from any form of sexual instruction imparted outside the home. Neither the children nor other members of their family should ever be penalized or discriminated against for this decision (#120).

Congregation for the Clergy. (1997). General directory for catechesis. Retrieved from  http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cclergy/documents/rc_con_ ccatheduc_doc_17041998_directory-for-catechesis_en.html

The document from the Congregation for the Clergy describes the relationship between religious instruction and catechesis, both of which are evident in Catholic schools. Paragraphs 73-75 explain the proper characteristics of religious instruction in schools. Religious instruction is to be scholastic in nature

with the same systematic demands and the same rigour as other disciplines. It must present the Christian message and the Christian event with the same seriousness and the same depth with which other disciplines present their knowledge. It should not be an accessory alongside of these disciplines, but rather it should engage in a necessary inter-disciplinary dialogue. This dialogue should take place above all at that level at which every discipline forms the personality of students. In this way the presentation of the Christian message influences the way in which the origins of the world, the sense of history, the basis of ethical values, the function of religion in culture, the destiny of man and his relationship with nature, are understood. Through inter-disciplinary dialogue religious instruction in schools underpins, activates, develops and completes the educational activity of the school (#73).

Paragraph 259-260 address religious instruction and catechesis within Catholic schools, recalling the emphasis of the Second Vatican Council’s document Gravissimum Educationis on schools as places for evangelization, human formation, and enculturation into the life of Christ.

Congregation for Catholic Education. (1997). The Catholic school on the threshold of  the third millennium. Retrieved from http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccatheduc/documents/rc_con_ ccatheduc_doc_27041998_school20  00_ en.html

Written as a “state of the union” for Catholic education at the time before the new millennium, the document from the Congregation for Catholic Education highlights the exiting concerns and challenges of Catholic education, the first and foremost as a crisis of values, especially in the prevalence of moral relativism, subjectivism, and nihilism.[2] Society has turned away from the Christian faith as a “reference point” and “source of light for an effective and convincing interpretation of existence” (#1). Stressing the importance of the Catholic school as a place for courageous renewal with its evangelizing mission, pastoral care for the family and society, and shared responsibility for the “social and cultural development of the different communities and people to which it belongs” (#5), Catholic schools are called to impart a “solid Christian formation” (#8), to offer technical and scientific skills, and above all to focus on the “development of the whole man” (#9).

The document briefly but succinctly mentions the cultural identity of the Catholic school.

From the nature of the Catholic school also stems one of the most significant elements of its educational project: the synthesis between culture and faith. Indeed, knowledge set in the context of faith becomes wisdom and life vision. The endeavor to interweave reason and faith, which has become the heart of individual subjects, makes for unity, articulation and coordination, bringing forth within what is learned in school a Christian vision of the world, of life, of culture and of history. In a Catholic school’s educational project there is no separation between time for learning and time for formation, between acquiring notions and growing in wisdom…All of this demands an atmosphere characterized by the search for truth, in which competent, convinced and coherent educators, teachers of learning and of life, may be a reflection, albeit imperfect but still vivid, of the one Teacher. In this perspective, in the Christian educational project all subjects collaborate, each with its own specific content, to the formation of mature personalities. (#14)

Catholic education’s role in service to society and the local community is discussed with the special role of teachers and their role in students development, “for the teacher does not write on inanimate material, but on the very spirits of human beings” (#19).

National Conference of Catholic Bishops. (2005). National directory for catechesis. Washington, DC: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

While not a Catholic school document, per se, the directory for catechesis from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops insists on the role of the Catholic school as a center for evangelization and catechesis, stating “its catechetical program is essential to is distinctly Catholic identity and character” (p.231). It includes an important section on the hiring of the Catholic school principal (Section 9a) as well as the role Catholic schoolteachers play as models and witness of the faith as they act to form students in what it means to live life as a Christian.

All teachers in Catholic schools share in the catechetical ministry. ‘All members of the faculty, at least by their example, are an integral part of the process of religious education… Teachers’ life style and character are as important as their professional credentials’. Their daily witness to the meaning of mature faith and Christian living has a profound effect on the education and formation of their students (p. 233).

This witness is so important, the directory goes on to say, “While some situations might entail compelling reasons for members of another faith tradition to teach in a Catholic school, as much as possible, all teachers in a Catholic school should be practicing Catholics” (p. 233).

Section 61.4b states that religion programs in Catholic schools should be in harmony with the catechetical efforts of local parishes and diocesan catechetical priorities and that Catholic schools should be affordable, accessible, and open to all.

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. (2005). Renewing our commitment to Catholic elementary and secondary schools in the third millennium. Retrieved from http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-we-teach/catholic-education/upload/renewing-our-commitment-2005.pdf

This document was developed by the Committee on Education of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to reaffirm commitment to Catholic education and its fourfold purposes of  “providing an atmosphere in which the Gospel message is proclaimed, community in Christ is experienced, service to our sisters and brothers is the norm, and thanksgiving and worship of our God is cultivated” (par. 2). The document reiterates the value of Catholic education, citing some of the previous documents released by the Sacred Congregation of Catholic Education, and discusses the importance of Catholic schools especially for the economically poor and minority students in inner-city environments. The document addresses the changing demographics of the Church in America, citing the increase in the Hispanic/Latino population and the need to find and properly train lay administrators for positions in the Catholic school environment, develop new models for economic sustainability of schools, and continue advocacy of Catholic schools in the public policy arena. It recommends meetings across the country to address “critical issues of Catholic identity, cultural diversity, finances, just wages and benefits, academic quality—especially in the area of religious education—alternative governance models, and the marketing of our Catholic schools.”

Congregation for Catholic Education. (2007). Educating together in Catholic schools: A shared mission between consecrated persons and the lay faithful. Retrieved from http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccatheduc/documents/rc_con_ ccatheduc_doc_20070908_educare-insieme_en.html

This document from the Congregation for Catholic Education “considers the pastoral aspects regarding cooperation between lay and consecrated persons within the same educational mission. In it, the choice of the lay faithful to live their educational commitment as ‘a personal vocation in the Church, and not simply as… the exercise of a profession’” (#6). Catholic education is discussed from the perspective of communion, defined as union both with God and neighbor. Aspects of communion are further described, and importance is placed upon the Catholic educator as being a person living in communion, with a spirituality of communion, and living for communion with Christ and with others.

As “a consecrated person is called to testify his or her specific vocation to a life of communion in love so as to be in the scholastic community a sign, a memorial and a prophecy of the values of the Gospel, so too a lay educator is required to exercise ‘a specific mission within the Church by living, in faith, a secular vocation in the communitarian structure of the school’” (#15).

Sufficient detail is given to the professional and spiritual formation of those working in Catholic schools. All should continually update methodologies and knowledge of culture, psychology, and pedagogical approaches. Catholic educators must possess a “sensitivity with regard to the person to be educated in order to grasp not only the request for growth in knowledge and skills, but also the need for growth in humanity” (#24).

For this reason, Catholic educators need “a ‘formation of the heart’: they need to be led to that encounter with God in Christ which awakens their love and opens their spirits to others”, so that their educational commitment becomes “a consequence deriving from their faith, a faith which becomes active through love (cf. Gal 5:6)”. In fact, even “care for instruction means loving” (Wis 6:17). It is only in this way that they can make their teaching a school of faith, that is to say, a transmission of the Gospel, as required by the educational project of the Catholic school (#25).

Communion not only includes collaboration among colleagues, but also with parents, the local community, and the entire Church.

Congregation for Catholic Education. (2013). Educating to intercultural dialogue in Catholic schools: Living in harmony for a civilization of love. Retrieved from http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccatheduc/documents/rc_con_ ccatheduc_doc_20131028_dialogo-interculturale_en.html

Primarily aimed at parents, teachers, and other personnel in Catholic schools, this document from the Congregation for Catholic Education addresses what it sees as a central challenge of education—the acceptance of various cultural expressions among all peoples and the necessity to overcome prejudices and build harmony among cultures without losing one’s own identity and pedagogical vision. Culture is defined as the “particular expression of human beings, their specific way of being and organizing their presence in the world” (Ch. 1, #1). While dialogue and clarity regarding the understanding of other religions is discussed, it is done so with “faithfulness to one’s own Christian identity” (#16). Catholic schools, as institutions of evangelization and enculturation, are seen as places where this intercultural dialogue should take place. In order for this dialogue to be effective, it must be “set-out from a deep-seated knowledge of the specific identity of the various dialogue partners. From this point of view, diversity ceases to be seen as a problem. Instead, a community characterized by pluralism is seen as a resource, a chance for opening up the whole system to all differences of origin, relationship between men and women, social status and educational history” (#27). Culture is discussed from a theological, anthropological, and pedagogical perspective before focus is placed practical applications of the transmission of culture in Catholic schools. “The contribution that Catholicism can make to education and to intercultural dialogue is in their reference to the centrality of the human person, who has his or her constitutive element in relationships with others. Catholic schools have in Jesus Christ the basis of their anthropological and pedagogical paradigm…” (#57).

Of importance to Catholic educators and administrators are the sections titled, “The curriculum as the expression of the school’s identity” (#64-69) and the sections directed toward the formation and profession of teachers and administrators (#76-86). A Catholic school’s programs “can be harmonized with the school’s original mission” (#65), and their curricula should “place on centre-stage both individuals and their search for meaning. This is the reference value, in view of which the various academic disciplines are important resources… From this perspective, what is taught is not neutral, and neither is the way of teaching it” (#65).

Catholic schools are encouraged to promote a wisdom-based society, to go beyond knowledge and educate people to think, evaluating facts in the light of values… In teaching the various academic disciplines, teachers share and promote a methodological viewpoint in which the various branches of knowledge are dynamically correlated, in a wisdom perspective. The epistemological framework of every branch of knowledge has its own identity, both in content and methodology. However, this framework does not relate merely to ‘internal’ questions, touching upon the correct realization of each discipline. Each discipline is not an island inhabited by a form of knowledge that is distinct and ring-fenced; rather, it is in a dynamic relationship with all other forms of knowledge, each of which expresses something about the human person and touches upon some truth. (#66-67) Moreover, it must be pointed out that teaching the Catholic religion in schools has its own aims, different from those of catechesis. In fact, while catechesis promotes personal adherence to Christ and maturing of the Christian life, school teaching gives the students knowledge about Christianity’s identity and the Christian life. Thus, one aims ‘to enlarge the area of our rationality, to reopen it to the larger questions of the truth and the good, to link theology, philosophy and science between them in full respect for the methods proper to them and for their reciprocal autonomy, but also in the awareness of the intrinsic unity that holds them together.’ (#74)

The formation of Catholic school teachers and administrators is discussed as not simply an initial formation, but an initiation into an on-going, professional learning community of scholars who collaborate with each other and integrate their ideas and faith into the subjects they teach. Their camaraderie goes beyond the classroom to a personal level and their responsibilities as teachers does not end when the final bell rings, for “Good teachers know that their responsibilities do not end outside the classroom or school. They know that their responsibilities are also connected with their local area, and are demonstrated by their understanding for today’s social problems…teachers must be able to provide their students with the cultural tools necessary for giving direction to their lives” (#83).

In its conclusion, the document states Catholic schools are to “avoid both fundamentalism and ideas of relativism where everything is the same. Instead, they are encouraged to progress in harmony with the identity they have received from their Gospel inspiration.”

Congregation for Catholic Education. (2015). Educating today and tomorrow: A renewing passion. Retrieved from http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccatheduc/documents/rc_ con_ccatheduc_doc_20140407_ educare-oggi-e-domani_en.html

This post-synodol document from the Congregation for Catholic Education focuses on the need for Catholic education to “convey vital values and principles to younger generations” and to “contribute to building the common good” (Introduction).  Both the context and approach of teaching in a Catholic school are described. The context is the collaborative, unified learning and teaching environment where care and concern is exhibited between teachers and students; where a wealth of opportunities exist for students to thrive and develop their talents; where the cognitive, affective, social, professional, ethical and spiritual dimensions of the person are all addressed; and where ideas are respected, dialogue is free-flowing, and a rigorous commitment towards truth is found. The approach to teaching and learning engages one in the pursuit of knowledge and research where “Engagement in knowledge and research cannot be separated from a sense of ethics and transcendence: no real science can disregard ethical consequences and no real science drives us away from transcendence. Science and ethics, science and transcendence are not mutually exclusive, but come together for a greater and better understanding of man and the world” (II, #2). The pedagogy of teaching includes the centrality of the learner within a relationship where teachers are trained and prepared to guide and accompany students toward deeper learning and challenging goals.

Challenges of Catholic education are to “make young people realize the beauty of faith in Jesus Christ and of religious freedom in a multireligious universe. In every environment, whether it is favorable or not, Catholic educators will have to be credible witnesses” (III). The educational vision for Catholic education must sit within a “philosophical anthropology that must also be an anthropology of truth, i.e., a social anthropology whereby man is seen in his relations and way of being; an anthropology of recollection and promise; an anthropology that refers to the cosmos and cares about sustainable development; and, even more, an anthropology that refers to God” (III).

Education is not just knowledge, but also experience: it links together knowledge and action; it works to achieve unity amongst different forms of knowledge and pursues consistency. It encompasses the affective and emotional domains, and is also endowed with an ethical dimension: knowing how to do things and what we want to do, daring to change society and the world, and serving the community. Education is based on participation, shared intelligence and intelligence interdependence; dialogue, self-giving, example, cooperation and reciprocity are also equally important elements (III).

Challenges to Catholic schools include an increased hostility toward private, religious education by local and national governments.

The document addresses Catholic higher education and its challenges and then concludes with a quote from Pope Francis to educators (below) and a questionnaire.

Do not be disheartened in the face of the difficulties that the educational challenge presents. Educating is not a profession but an attitude, a way of being; in order to educate it is necessary to step out of ourselves and be among young people, to accompany them in the stages of their growth and to set ourselves beside them; Give them hope and optimism for their journey in the world. Teach them to see the beauty and goodness of creation and of man who always retains the Creator’s hallmark. But above all with your life be witnesses of what you communicate (Conclusion).


[1] A public or private school with an educational philosophy compatible with Catholic schools (#47).

[2] “The belief that traditional morals, ideas, beliefs, etc., have no worth or value; a doctrine that denies any objective ground of truth and especially of moral truths. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.

Catholic Schools Need Catholic Standards

The Cardinal Newman Society presents our new Catholic Curriculum Standards to help Catholic educators strengthen their core mission of evangelization and forming young people for God.

The Newman Society has long promoted and defended faithful Catholic education, and increasingly this work is turned toward helping schools study, embrace and implement the Church’s vision for Catholic education. Our new Standards are central to this work.

We want to help, to propose a path forward that is more appropriate for Catholic schools than the problematic Common Core and other secular options,” says Dr. Dan Guernsey, director of K-12 education programs for The Cardinal Newman Society and co-author of the Catholic Curriculum Standards with deputy director Dr. Denise Donohue.

The Standards point Catholic education in the right direction,” Dr. Donohue says. “We expect and in fact encourage more innovation, continued efforts to delve into the mission of Catholic schools and further develop authentic Catholic standards of education so that Catholic identity thrives.”

With emphasis on literature, science, history and math, the Catholic Curriculum Standards incorporate Catholic insights into these curricular areas and indicate what students should be learning beyond the accumulation of useful skills and knowledge. The standards are grouped into two grade levels, K-6 and 7-12, to help educators assign or develop materials and choose subject matter that serve the unique mission of Catholic education.

For too long, many Catholic schools have relied heavily on secular government standards like the Common Core to measure school success and on similarly focused standardized tests to measure student outcomes. These distract Catholic educators from their core mission, because they ignore key aspects of human formation and often depend on philosophies of education that are contrary to the Catholic faith. Still, Catholic schools have far outperformed public schools because of the genuine concern of their leaders and teachers for students’ personal formation.

Good intentions, sadly, are not enough.

Catholic education’s road to renewal will be paved with genuine Catholic standards, resting on the solid foundation of Catholic teaching and the Church’s vision for Catholic education.

What are standards? Consider the grand promises of the Common Core State Standards: “These learning goals outline what a student should know and be able to do at the end of each grade. The standards were created to ensure that all students graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college, career, and life, regardless of where they live.”

Standards indicate levels of student achievement. They help determine curriculum, testing, and measures of school success. When developed rightly, they are a wonderful tool for educators and have become fundamental to American schooling.

But if standards are fundamental to modern education, then it should be obvious that Catholic schools need Catholic standards. If we measure Catholic school success by standards that do not serve the authentic mission of Catholic education, we fail to attend to Catholic identity — and eventually, our schools simply fail.

But that doesn’t have to be the fate of Catholic education. It cannot be the fate of Catholic education, on which we rely for the reform of Catholic life and American society.

“Even amid growing challenges in today’s society, Catholic schools and homeschool programs that embrace and celebrate the mission of Catholic education continue to thrive across the United States,” write Drs. Donohue and Guernsey in their online letter introducing the Catholic Curriculum Standards. “The Cardinal Newman Society makes this free resource available to all educators, including parents, the primary educators of children, in hopes of continuing this renewal of Catholic education for the benefit of our children, our Church, and the common good they serve.”

Child doing homework

10 Facts Every Catholic Should Know About the Common Core

Editor’s Note: The following article is reprinted from a 2014 newsletter, which was based upon materials The Cardinal Newman Society provided to U.S. bishops at a November 2013 meeting.

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In December 2013, The Cardinal Newman Society issued a statement expressing serious reservations about the rapid adoption of the Common Core State Standards in Catholic schools across the country:

The Cardinal Newman Society is concerned that adoption of the Common Core at this time is premature. Worse, it may be a mistake that will be difficult or impossible to undo for years to come.

We do not doubt the good intentions of those who advocate the Common Core in Catholic schools, and we acknowledge their confidence that Catholic schools can maintain a strong Catholic identity even while measuring their quality according to secular standards.

But we do not share this confidence, in light of the sad experience in recent decades of many Catholic colleges, hospitals, and charities that believed they could infuse Catholic identity into the secular standards that they embraced.

The Common Core standards — developed with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and promoted with federal grants from the Obama administration — were adopted rapidly by many states and have quickly become controversial, often in the political arena but also in Catholic circles. We responded to these radical changes in education by launching our Catholic Is Our Core initiative. We have also expanded our programs for K-12 Catholic education. Our added expert staff will promote and defend faithful Catholic education with regard to Catholic school standards, accreditation, teacher orientation, new school startup procedures while we continue our popular Catholic Education Honor Roll.

This has all moved so rapidly, and The Cardinal Newman Society continues to receive questions about the Common Core and Catholic education nearly every day. For your convenience, we have detailed 10 facts that every Catholic should know about the Common Core. In addition, our statement on the Common Core and many other helpful resources are available on our special Common Core website, CatholicIsOurCore.org. We welcome your contributions of additional information and insights that may be valuable to Catholic parents, educators, pastors, and bishops.

1. The Common Core is not mandatory for Catholic schools.

No government has required the Common Core in private schools, and Catholic educators are under no obligation to conform. It is up to each state whether to adopt the standards as their own, and those standards are mandatory only for government schools.

Nevertheless, for decades many Catholic schools have voluntarily conformed their curricula and teaching to secular state standards — now Common Core in most states.

The lack of distinct standards for authentic Catholic education has long been a concern, but it is getting more attention due to the national controversy over the Common Core.

2. The Common Core is not intended for Catholic education.

The Common Core’s stated purpose falls far short of the Holy See’s rich vision for Catholic education: “The standards … are designed to ensure students are prepared for today’s entry-level careers, freshman-level college courses, and workforce training programs.”

While educators and reformers are hotly debating whether the Common Core’s objectives are appropriate for government schools, clearly the objectives were not developed with Catholic education in mind. Catholic education is much greater than college and career preparation.

Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, former secretary to the Congregation for Catholic Education, explained in a 2005 lecture at The Catholic University of America:

The enduring foundation on which the Church builds her educational philosophy is the conviction that it is a process which forms the whole child, especially with his or her eyes fixed on the vision of God. The specific purpose of a Catholic education is the formation of boys and girls who will be good citizens of this world, enriching society with the leaven of the Gospel, but who will also be citizens of the world to come. Catholic schools have a straightforward goal: to foster the growth of good Catholic human beings who love God and neighbor and thus fulfill their destiny of becoming saints.

3. Catholic schools already outperform public schools.

The Common Core is a response to the failings of government schools. It can’t be assumed that the standards will improve Catholic schools, which for two decades have outperformed public schools on the federal National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests. In 2013, eighth-grade students at Catholic schools had an average score of 286 in reading (as compared to 226 at government schools) and 295 in math (284 at government schools).

Likewise, in 2011, students from “religious schools” far outperformed those at government schools on the Scholastic Achievement Test (SAT). They scored 531 in reading (government schools 449), 533 in math (government schools 506) and 528 in writing (government schools 483).

Some have expressed concern that national tests are adjusting to conform to the Common Core. This is true of many common tests like the SAT and the California Achievement Test (CAT). Others, like the ACT college readiness test and the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, will remain stable for at least several years. Regardless, students with a strong Catholic education should continue to perform well on Common Core-adjusted tests.

Meanwhile, Catholic educators can and should develop national tests that measure success according to authentic Catholic education standards.  Testing companies will be eager to serve more than 2 million Catholic school students plus homeschoolers, and quality colleges will continue to be eager to recruit graduates with a traditional Catholic education.

4. Catholic schools already prepare students for college and career.

Even if the Common Core truly helps prepare students for college and career, Catholic education has no apparent need of such help. According to the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), Catholic high schools already have a 99 percent graduation rate, as opposed to 73 percent in government schools. Most Catholic school graduates attend four-year colleges (85 percent), as opposed to fewer than half (44 percent) of government school graduates.

It is primarily two-year community colleges and government universities that have expressed enthusiasm for the Common Core standards, which aim for entry-level job skills. An authentic Catholic education prepares students for success in life as well as vocation, and the typical graduate is well-prepared for a college-level liberal arts education.

5. The Common Core is rushed, untested and experimental.

The Common Core was developed quietly by a few bureaucrats using Gates Foundation funds and then “sold” to the National Governor’s Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers to avoid public scrutiny and accountability. It became popular to educators and then legislators as the Obama administration dangled a promise of federal grants, causing many states to adopt Common Core standards even before they were completed. Catholic educators and bishops were warned that “it is important to get on board” with the untested standards.

The Common Core standards have never been tested, and there is no evidence that they will achieve their objectives of college and career readiness. Indeed, although standards influence how educational success is measured, even the “best” state standards — as ranked by the respected Thomas B. Fordham Institute — have no discernible impact on student outcomes.

Instead, the Common Core’s English language and “new math” standards were developed by little-known “experts” with no solid research basis, despite misleading claims. For instance, the push for reading more “informational texts” — such as manuals and scientific articles — relies upon distortions of NAEP data. The 2006 federal Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) found that higher NAEP scores for literacy in fact correlate to more reading of novels and less frequent reading of information.

6. The Common Core is (ultimately) about textbooks and curriculum.

The Common Core’s proponents note that standards are not the same as curricula, textbooks or teaching, and so adopting the Common Core does not — in itself — control what happens in the classroom. But it’s disingenuous to ignore the huge impact that standards can have on students. Textbook publishers and testing companies are already conforming to the Common Core, and the standards do prompt changes in curricula and teaching.

The Gates Foundation has committed more than $10.5 million in grants to develop Common Core-compliant curricula. In May 2014, the Foundation also granted $10 million to the New Ventures Fund to help implement Common Core with “lesson plan content, webinars, online platforms for sharing instruction plans, and networking events.”

Textbook publishers look to make millions of dollars with new products that conform to the Common Core, and many such texts are already in Catholic schools. Not surprisingly, publishers are among the leading supporters of the Common Core.

7. The Common Core may hinder students’ education and formation.

Hardly the least concern, critics have noted several ways in which the Common Core could do real harm to education. The standards demand greater emphasis on reading informational texts, with a corresponding decrease in great literature. Some recommended (not required) texts are morally problematic. The “new math” techniques ignore traditional and successful math programs. Math standards are lowered: pre-algebra or algebra is no longer the eighth-grade norm, nor pre-calculus or calculus for 12th grade. Some of the expectations are simply not age-appropriate.

The emphasis on skills and career preparation ignores other aspects of student formation that are key to Catholic education. Proponents argue that the Common Core can be supplemented with Catholic instruction, so weak standards do no harm. But if the success of schools and students is measured by the Common Core standards, the natural inclination is to reduce attention to Catholic identity and student formation. It is the same path taken by now-secularized Catholic colleges.

8. The Common Core violates the principle of subsidiarity.

National standards tend to confine educators to a particular vision for education, which stifles innovation and threatens the independence and unique mission of Catholic schools. In April of 2014, the U.S. bishops’ office for Catholic education issued a statement acknowledging their concerns about the Common Core:

In the Church, the principle of subsidiarity directs that human events are best handled at the lowest possible level, closest to the individuals affected by the decisions being made. … This principle provides a great strength for Catholic schools as it gives the local diocesan and school community the ability to make decisions at the school level related to guidelines and curriculum. It also allows for adjustments and adaptations to be made by teachers and administrators for the children under their care.

Subsidiarity also applies to the parents’ role as first educators of their children, a fact taught clearly in the Holy See’s teaching on Catholic education. Parents have been largely absent from decisions regarding the Common Core. Our Catholic Is Our Core initiative seeks to bring parents into the conversation so their concerns are heard.

9. The Common Core may endanger religious freedom for Catholic educators.

State and federal involvement in Common Core could lead to religious liberty violations. Catholic schools’ protection from threats like the HHS mandate depends on showing consistent Catholic identity, because First Amendment protections often depend on demonstrating a bona fide religious character. The Common Core may diminish a school’s Catholic identity by “crowding out” important elements of authentic Catholic formation, emphasizing skills and practicality over vocation, and failing to teach reasoning from a foundation of truth.

10. Our “common core” is our Catholic faith.

Catholic education didn’t become successful by striving for secular standards; its success begins with its Catholic mission. Traditional classroom methods and pedagogy in Catholic schools developed precisely because of the desire to form students morally, spiritually, intellectually and socially. “Reforms” that are not rooted in the Catholic faith are unlikely to bear good fruit.

Many educators see the danger. In a Cardinal Newman Society survey of Catholic high school principals, only 26 percent told us they prefer to adopt the Common Core as it is, without significant changes to protect Catholic identity. Among principals of our Catholic High School Honor Roll schools, 32 percent would reject the Common Core entirely, while 40 percent want the Church to pause and take more time to study the standards.

Our purpose, then, for our Catholic Is Our Core initiative remains “to provide those concerned about faithful Catholic education with solid information, analysis and arguments to more fully understand the potential impact of the Common Core on Catholic education and to advise caution about the Common Core until it can be further studied and evaluated.” It is our hope that the Common Core proves to be the catalyst that leads to more helpful standards and reforms, resulting in even stronger Catholic education.

Many Diocesan and Private Catholic Schools Find Success Outside of Common Core

This publication is part of a series of reports on the Common Core State Standards Initiative and how those standards potentially impact Catholic education.

At least 33 Catholic dioceses and scores of private and independent Catholic schools across the United States have decided to take a cautious approach to the relatively new and untested “Common Core” and have opted out of using it so far. They have continued to use their own standards and curricula that have kept them at the top of the academic charts for decades. Their courage and conviction in not following the latest educational reform and sticking to what has been field-tested and fully vetted is worthy of review.  Here’s a brief overview of what some of these dioceses and schools have done.

The Archdiocese of Denver was among the first to acknowledge concerns and withhold acceptance of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Denver was soon followed by the Diocese of  Fargo and then the Dioceses of Pittsburgh,  ManchesterLansing, Madison, and Superior. Each of these confident and high-performing dioceses issued formal statements justifying their decisions not to jump on the Common Core bandwagon. Many published statements by the bishop or superintendent.

In some cases, statements came after thoughtful and heartfelt input from parents and from concerned faithful Catholics who had grave concerns about bringing the Common Core standards into Catholic schools. The parents’ concerns included a worry about a decline of Catholic identity; that the strict college and career focus of the utilitarian standards did not properly focus on the integral development of students; that the standards were in places less rigorous, slowed math progression and reduced exposure to great literature; that the standards were untested; and that the standards were thrust upon the nation without full disclosure about their impact and even their content. One of the earliest and most insightful groups of parents was Pittsburgh Catholics Against Common Core, who appealed to Bishop David Zubik to rely on the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s more complete Catholic standards.  Bishop Zubik, after careful consideration, later issued a statement assuring that only fully Catholic resource materials would be used in the schools and participation in any federal student data sharing would not occur.

Other dioceses have followed with similar policies, since the Common Core standards starting manifesting themselves in Catholic schools in 2012.  The Diocese of Baker, Oregon, is among the most recent to reject the full implementation of the math and English language arts standards, stating earlier this spring, “there are more than a few reasons to be cautious about adopting Common Core.”  These include the lack of endorsement by some English and math professors present on the original validation committee and concerns about potential content issues with history, health education and social studies.

Other dioceses not using the CCSS include Little RockNashville, and Wilmington. They have elected to continue the use of their own diocesan designed standards and curriculum guides. These tested and successful guides not only include specific standards but also resource material, formal and informal assessments, instructional approaches, student accommodations and suggestions for parental involvement.  Many of the standards, while self-selected, take into account some secular and professional standards and incorporate them into the diocesan designed program of study; the dioceses do not operate in a complete vacuum, although they do operate with a distinctly Catholic paradigm.

While it is uncertain from their websites whether other dioceses in Texas use the CCSS, the Diocese of Galveston-Houston and the Diocese of Dallas indicate that they use their own internally designed curriculum guides based on the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) and the International Reading Association (IRA).  The Diocese of Austin bases its standards on the TEKS.  These three dioceses educate 39,462 school children or 51 percent of the total Catholic student population taught in Texas (McDonald & Schultz, 2015).

Adjacent to Texas, the Dioceses of Tulsa and Oklahoma City use their own internal, previously generated curriculum guides and make no reference to the use of Common Core standards. Similarly, the dioceses in Nebraska and Virginia, whose state school officers never elected to incorporate the standards, do not use the Common Core. The dioceses in these four cities and states add another 63,953 Catholic school children being educated without Common Core (McDonald & Schultz, 2015).

At least seven of these non-Common Core dioceses have their curricula online:  CharlestonDallas, Denver, Galveston-HoustonNashvilleSuperior and Tulsa. Some dioceses have offices for curriculum and instruction and are able to work on these areas full-time. These dioceses use the existing professional, state and national standards along with the professional expertise of curriculum designers, members of the clergy, religious orders and input from teachers to create guides or standards for their school systems.

One problem faced by these non-adopting dioceses is how to steer clear of both the Common Core standards and the instructional approaches the standards employ, when using textbooks and materials created by publishers whose goods are stamped “Common Core aligned”. This has raised, and continues to raise, concerns among parents who see these books and worksheets coming home after having been told Common Core standards are not utilized in their diocese.

Sandra Leatherwood, director of Catholic education for the Diocese of Charleston, addresses this issue by saying that although it’s awfully hard to get around the use of Common Core- marketed materials, schools don’t have to teach the Common Core Standards when they use these books. They can use their own created curriculum guides. Like most dioceses that work under the concept of subsidiarity, in the Diocese of Charleston, representative teachers from each school gather first to develop the math and English standards and then bring them back to the individual schools for internal review and comment. In her Diocese, Leatherwood said the local teachers have the autonomy to select the textbooks that best align to their own created curriculum.  Leatherwood emphatically stated that the issue is not whether the textbook is aligned to Common Core, but whether the textbook aligns to the diocesan curriculum.

A number of Catholic schools and dioceses have come to see that choosing the best materials and using the best instructional methods means not incorporating all of the instructional “shifts” required by the Common Core standards, such as reducing selections of classical literature or implementing a recreation of the 1990s  “Math Wars”..  These schools and dioceses require instructional approaches that promote rigor and perseverance by forcing students to think for extended periods of time, pushing their developmental capacity.  Reducing classical selections that portray man in all the scenarios of his perpetual struggle to survive and buying literature anthologies that look like commercials are something these dioceses and private independent schools have chosen not to do. Rather they focus on the use of proven pedagogy and proven curricula that facilitate the search for authentic and transparent truth, whether inside or outside the specific text that children encounter.

Most of the dioceses that have not implemented the Common Core emphasize on their websites and official statements the desire to prepare students for more than college and career. These dioceses have taken to heart the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops clarification that the Common Core standards are “insufficient” to guide Catholic education.  These dioceses are upfront that the purpose of their schools is to educate the whole child in a unique Catholic worldview, where educational accomplishments sit alongside other milestones of life. They emphasize that their educational efforts are ordered toward the fulfillment of the whole person, and they do not view knowledge as primarily a commodity to be bought, sold and amassed for worldly success.

A Catholic school’s primary concern is not that students measure up to the standards of the world so that they can compete in the race for economic security and academic stature. Rather, Catholic schools fulfill an evangelizing mission of providing opportunities for their students to encounter Christ in a personal and intimate way.  Instilling virtue, integral formation and development of the soul and pursuing authentic truth in a culture of relativism are all central to a Catholic school’s standards and curriculum.  Catholic schools are much more than the Common Core.

Acknowledging this, and the fact that the vast majority of schools in the nation are singing from one sheet of music and following one “way” of going about the complex human activity that is education, some dioceses have gone a little further and are exploring a liberal arts/ classical curriculum model using original source documents and a structured developmental pedagogy.  And both the Diocese of Marquette and the Kaukauna Catholic School System in the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin, have decided to move toward the integration of English Language Arts and Social Studies into a combined Humanities program.

As with the best Catholic schools in the country, faith permeates the curriculum in these schools, but curriculum is framed around the historical development of Christianity and the developmental aptitudes of the child.  These schools are more concerned with process and excellence of content, rather than standards.  They are more concerned with setting a child’s imagination and creativity on fire, rather than unending mind-numbing assessments designed to quantify and measure learning so as to weed out bad schools and teachers.  Their classical, liberal-arts model emphasizes the use of inspired learning and authentic teacher-based assessment of student (not teacher or school) progress. Individualized attention, focus on tried and true stories emphasizing what is noble and normative of human excellence, happiness and flourishing, these schools are places of joy and intense academic growth.

There are many examples of individual schools seeking to break out of the cookie-cutter Common Core curricula and reclaim their rich heritage—and in the process, reclaim their market share.  Families stuck in Common Core schools are looking for something unique, something uncommon, something that will help their child stand out in a crowd, and more importantly help their child love school and love to learn for learning’s sake. Near-failing Catholic schools such as St. Jerome’s in Maryland have seen dramatic turnarounds by boldly proclaiming a Catholic and classical identity. Other schools formerly on the brink of closure such as St. John the Baptist Parish School in Ottsville, Penn., are seeking to follow suit and fight their way to prominence by being boldly Catholic and boldly counter-Common Core.

It’s not only existing Catholic schools that are recovering a sense of education that is beyond college and career; new schools are starting up to meet the need for something more than the Common Core.  The National Association of Private Catholic Independent Schools has seen a dramatic increase in membership since the Common Core started gaining a foothold in 2012. New private schools teaching the Catholic faith have sprung up in Arizona, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, South Carolina and Wisconsin.  Many of these schools are using a classical pedagogy and courses of study from foundational homeschool programs such as Kolbe Academy, Mother of Divine Grace and the new Chesterton Academies.  It is undetermined how many students these recognized members plus autonomous up-starts are teaching, but theirs is an upward trend (Donohue, 2014).  A newly formed support organization called  The Institute for Catholic Liberal Education has also seen rapid growth in the last two years, as it seeks to expose a hungry market to a comprehensive approach to education which is wholesome, weighty, meaningful, tested and soul-nourishing.

In time, there may be some fruits that come from the Common Core, but there is already plenty of good fruit on the table of classical and faith based-liberal arts schools.  The children are happy and well-fed.  Room for more fruit, once ripe and deemed healthful, can perhaps be made in the future with care.  Until then, there is much to feast upon while we wait—and waiting is something we Catholics do well.

References

Donohue, D. (2014). Private independent Catholic schools: Components of successful start-up schools. Accessible at http://gradworks.umi.com/35/81/3581846.html.

McDonald, D. & Schultz, M. (2015). The annual statistical report on schools, enrollment and staffing: United States Catholic elementary and secondary schools 2014-2015. (Arlington, VA: National Catholic Educational Association).

Disconnect between Common Core’s Literary Approach and Catholic Education’s Pursuit of Truth

Many of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts are, when taken in isolation and at face value, fairly innocuous.  Who, after all, could be against a fifth grader being  asked to “Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., how characters interact)”?  Other Standards are more disconcerting; for a detailed review, see the NAPCIS Annotated Common Core Standards.

But a substantial concern is with the guiding educational philosophies behind the Common Core. These philosophies are present in what the Common Core describes as its “instructional shifts” and are the promise behind the standards:

These Standards are not intended to be new names for old ways of doing business. They are a call to take the next step. It is time for states to work together to build on lessons learned from two decades of standards based reforms. It is time to recognize that standards are not just promises to our children, but promises we intend to keep. (National Governors Association Center for Best Practices & Council of Chief State School Officers, 2010, Intro.)

The Common Core is about new ways of doing business (i.e., new ways of educating). They are a new promise, the next step, in education.  As has been argued elsewhere, the Common Core was unveiled nationally even though, as a whole, it was untried and untested. However, far from delivering a new way of doing business, what the Common Core has done is privilege one way of educating. The designing consultants have simply taken one side in ongoing, com- plex, pedagogical issues.  The Common Core’s national scope has thereby crowded out other voices and philosophies and hampered intellectual and pedagogical diversity.

In the highly idiosyncratic, dynamic, complex and necessarily personal world of human intellectual formation, there are many paths to excellence.  Catholic schools, with their unique focus on integral human formation and the celebration of truth, beauty and goodness, should protect their voice and their viewpoints. Catholic schools should understand and be aware of the Common Core shifts, reject their narrow and utilitarian philosophies, and seek to counter the Common Core’s effects with a distinctly more holistic and complete Catholic educational experience.

This report focuses primarily on the English Language Arts (ELA) standards, as those tend to have a greater immediate effect on Catholic identity.  (However, math too is affected, as one side in the ongoing  “math wars” has unilaterally claimed power.)  The Common Core has taken one side of a complex debate about different literary and interpretive theories and the nature and purpose of literature.

It is possible, of course, that the authors of the ELA standards are not even fully aware of what they have done.  The standards’ main architect, David Coleman, is neither a professor of literature nor has he ever taught literature in the K-12 environment.  He is an educational consultant who happened to be in the right place at the right time with the right connections with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to take the lead in transforming American literary education. And—like Common Core funder Bill Gates, who never went to college—Coleman seems to have little regard for the transformative or transcendental power of literature.  He once advised educators in a Common Core presentation: “[A]s you grow up in this world, you realize people really don’t give a s–t about what you feel or what you think” and, “It is rare in a working environment that someone says, ‘Johnson, I need a market analysis by Friday but before that I need a compelling account of your childhood.’” For Coleman and Gates, reading seems to be about distilling facts, writing is about reports and education is about college and career readiness.

According to this utilitarian approach to education, we need to fix America’s schools to ensure that we are able to produce workers who can compete in the 21st century global economy.  In order to ensure our success, the logic goes, we need extensive testing to ensure quality control both in student learning and in teacher efficacy. Enter the computer-based, massive, Common Core testing system being rolled out across the country this spring. Two versions of a new test being used to assess both the students and teachers in their mastery of the Common Core have been unleashed on our schools, teachers and students.  Much more, no doubt, will be said on this subject as the scores and uses of the scores become evident.

It is perhaps in the challenge of computerized high-stakes testing that we find one of the reasons for the Common Core’s alignment with one literary theory over all others.  The method advanced by the writers of the standards is what they call Close Analytic Reading or Close Reading and is very similar to a literary approach used in the 1940s and 1950s called New Criticism (Brizee & Tompkins, 2011).  According to the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), one of the two testing consortia funded by the federal government to assess the standards:

Close, analytic reading stresses engaging with a text of sufficient complexity directly and examining meaning thoroughly and methodically, encouraging students to read and reread deliberately.  Directing student attention on the text itself empowers students to understand the central ideas and key supporting details.  It also enables students to reflect on the meanings of individual words and sentences; the order in which sentences unfold; and the development of ideas over the course of the text, which ultimately leads students to arrive at an understanding of the text as a whole. (PARCC, 2011, p. 7)

Close Reading/New Criticism allows for easier computer testing. There is the perception that if all we are testing is the text on the page, this will somehow be more objective.  Words are what they are.  The text in isolation can supposedly be tested in isolation with few variables and thus more accuracy. We can get to a simpler, fill-in-the-bubble “objective” response. This method may also be perceived as fairer to those who may not have robust life experiences to think about the meaning or implications of the text, even if the text comports with reality or truth outside of the text.  No opinions need to be considered or evaluated, which computers would have a hard time doing anyway.

So it’s an apparent win/win—the test gets more objective answers, and teaching gets easier since variables are reduced—but in fact the cost is quite high.  It is the eviscerating and over- simplification of the literary and reasoning experience.  Testing is often about limiting variables; education, on the other hand, is often about multiplying variables, about complexity, depth and richness that a student may very well miss if we are striving to get to the one, right bubbled answer.

The Close Reading/New  Criticism approach used by the Common Core not only assists in standardized testing, but it can also be used as a way to make sure that literature serves the pragmatic college and career focus of the Common Core.  From this perspective, the value of literature is not so much what it teaches us about how to live well, but that it teaches us how to read well (e.g. Just tell me what’s in the report, Johnson!).

Elements of New Criticism can be used as a means to this end by focusing simply on a systematic analysis of the text, objectifying the relationship between the text and its form, limiting the text to itself, and negating the reader ’s response and/or  the author’s intentions (Delahoyde, n.d.; Murfin & Ray, 1998).  New Criticism does not invite external socio-political or historical perspectives. As Delahoyde (n.d.) states:

The goal then is not the pursuit of sincerity or authenticity, but subtlety, unity, and integrity—and these are properties of the text, not the author.  The work is not the author ’s; it was detached at birth.  The author ’s intentions are “neither available nor desirable, [and] …meaning exists on the page, the meaning of the text is intrinsic and should not be confused with the author ’s intentions nor the work’s affective dimensions”. (Delahoyde, n.d., para. 3)

Here we see a limiting of the pursuit of truth by the actual formula used to analyze the text. Not only is the pursuit of truth limited in this approach, but the author ’s actual position is disregarded as well.

While the Close Reading approach advocated by the CCSS authors does rely heavily upon the search for the author ’s explicit and implied themes, many aspects of Close Reading are comparable to the New Criticism approach.  For instance, teachers are to give the text to the students with little to no background information and are not to add additional pieces of information to the discussion—something that other reading experts recommend doing (NCTE, 2004; Steven, 1982). The selected text itself sets the parameters of the discussion, and students are to answer questions from evidence within the text.

For example, here’s a Close Reading lesson from the Teaching Channel titled, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: The Secrets Behind What You Eat by Michael Pollan.  In the YouTube video (Stabrowski, 2014), the teacher demonstrates how to guide a group of students through a series of questions to see how the author has personified corn as an evil King and how corn has chased poor innocent animals and other crops off of the farm.  If the students do not arrive at the conclusion that corn is evil, then the teacher rewinds (meaning re-teaches) that portion of the lesson so that the students all understand this fact. Students read the text once to get the gist of the text. Then the teacher, or a good reader, reads the text aloud while the students listen and think about the text-dependent (pre-made) questions they are given to answer. When discussing the questions and answers, students are not to go outside of the text to research whether corn has any nutritional benefits or how it is exported to feed other countries.  They are not to bring up any personal thoughts about corn, only evidence from the text.  They are then instructed to correct or add to their answers, so that they are in conformity with the class discussion. Here we have a very concerted effort, and an entire class period, directed to making sure students have an exact understanding of the author ’s intentions, both explicit (with evidence from the text) and implied.  It is pretty hard for an elementary or middle school student to disagree, after this much effort has been put into understanding the author ’s viewpoint.

Pearson (2013), a member of the Common Core Validation Committee and proponent of the standards, has stated that Close Reading seems to squelch the activation of students’ prior knowledge (since all knowledge is remanded to the text), and the freedom to evaluate and compare is based upon this prohibited “outside” knowledge.  While he is concerned about the fact that cognitive learning theory is being neglected by this approach, he raises a more important issue: the suppression of freedom among the students and teachers to include other perspectives and considerations in addition to those advocated by the text and the author. Pearson explains this as the authors’ misunderstanding  about the process of comprehension and the fact that prior knowledge cannot be turned off or on at will. Pearson wonders if once a student learns about the authors’ points, can the student then use that information in the next selected reading of the author—extending the first selected text into the second, into the entire chapter, into the book—or must the reader be remanded to the selected piece in front of them?

In college and university literature departments around the country, discussions about the validity and applicability of various literary approaches in the pursuit of meaning are ongoing.  But for the teachers and students in American schools, the discussion has ended: Close Reading is it.

Our goal in teaching literature to kids is not just to prepare them for possible graduate school in English; our goal, especially in Catholic schools, is to form them and expose them to great, engaging, formative and normative literature and in the process instill in them a love and passion for reading great literature.  (See The Story Killers by Terrance Moore (2013) for an extended discussion of this point.)  Important to K-12 students is reading and engaging in well-crafted stories that will assist them in becoming wiser and better people, leading to more satisfying and richer lives. For our children, stories are not just about texts and techniques, but also about people and relationships.  Stories are not just about literary styles and interpretive complexities, but also about exploration into the imaginative and powerful terms surrounding the nature of reality, morality, faith and virtue. Great literature presents images of nobility and excellence—and their opposites—for our judgment and self-judgment, as we engage in deep and meaningful discussions about what it means to be a fully actualized, good human being. The textual technicalities and techniques, which are more easily tested and discussed using New Criticism and Close Reading, are means rather than ends in the K-12 literary experience—and this is most especially true for Catholic schools.

In Catholic schools, knowledge is attained when the human intellect, informed by the senses, judges things rightly.  Confining students to their own background knowledge or the point of view of the text rewards subjectivity and relativity, instead of Truth.   Concluding a lesson without having the opportunity to discuss other viewpoints that might in fact contain Truth, allows doubt, misinformation and even fallacy to solidify in the student’s mind. In catechesis, this would be like leaving students adrift after speaking about Creation and the Fall, putting off until later the promise of the Resurrection.  If these texts are so important to be analyzed in the light of close reading, then they are important enough to be read in the light of all of the viewpoints and perspectives that surround them.  As Fr. Robert Spitzer (2011) notes in a discussion of the pursuit of truth, there are far more errors of omission than commission, which means that leaving out data is just as harmful to the pursuit of truth as getting the wrong data or making logical errors.

Catholic educators, especially if they are using Common Core-developed texts and questions, need to look carefully at what texts and what questions are being left out. Their focus needs to be on the pursuit of the true, good and beautiful, not on getting the right answer on the Common Core test-inspired questions at the end of any publisher ’s provided worksheets. Catholic educators need to look deliberately and carefully at the real, rich and wonderful world outside the text. For the text, in combination with reality, may prove a mighty formative weapon. The text, in context, may very well brilliantly unveil reality—sometimes with life-changing effect. The purpose of reading is more than downloading text-limited knowledge. In addition, reading can sometimes simply be for pleasure, joy and wonder.  There is life outside of the Common Core and its tests.

Teachers in Catholic schools must move well beyond the Common Core in their much more profound efforts toward the integral formation of their students in mind, body and spirit. They do this through their intellectual and moral example, living the truth with love, and exposing their students to complex reality in all of its glorious manifestations.  In the Vatican’s document The Catholic School (1977), we read:

The school considers human knowledge as a truth to be discovered. In the measure in which subjects are taught by someone who knowingly and without restraint seeks the truth they are to that extent Christian. Discovery and awareness of truth leads man to the discovery of Truth itself.  (para. 41)

It also leads students to a discovery of Truth, Himself.  The purpose of our Catholic educational institutions, according to Pope Benedict (2008), is to first and foremost be a place where students can encounter the living God. Pope Benedict (2010) also reminds us that the purpose of our Catholic schools is to make saints!

Overuse of the methodology of Close Reading and a reconstituted literary approach of New Criticism is insufficient in the much broader and more complex pursuit of truth in which we are called to engage in our Catholic schools. There are other analytical tools and approaches in the field of literature that are also helpful to address the richness and power of literary possi- bility, creativity and passion. Among these are Reader/Response, Moral Criticism, and Struc- turalism (Brizee & Tompkins, 2011). Catholic students need rich exposure to Moral Criticism, which is more open to an analysis of the text’s teachings related to topics of wisdom, grace, beauty and virtue. (See http://www.westga.edu/~jmcclain/Literary%20Theory/moralintellectual_critical_appr.htm for more on Moral Criticism.)  This broader interpretive framework will better enable Catholic schools to avoid unnecessarily or unwittingly narrowing their efforts.

Former Secretary for the Congregation for Catholic Education, Archbishop Michael Miller, C.S.B., describes this dynamic when he warns:

All too many Catholic schools fall into the trap of a secular academic success culture, putting their Christological focus and its accompanying understanding of the human person in second place.  Christ is “fitted in” rather than being the school’s vital principle (2006, p. 26).

He goes on to say, “This conviction about the nature of truth is too important for Catholics to be confused about,” (p. 46) and “Unlike skeptics and relativists, Catholic educators share a specific belief about truth: that, to a limited but real extent, it can be attained and communicated to others.”  He warns that:

Catholic schools (should) take up the daunting task of freeing boys and girls from the insidious consequences of what Pope Benedict XVI has called the “dictatorship of relativism”—a dictatorship that cripples all genuine education. Catholic teachers are to cultivate in themselves and develop in others a passion for truth that defeats moral and cultural relativism.  They are to educate “in the truth.” (p. 46)

Our standards, Catholic school standards, are not synonymous with the Common Core State Standards. As the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has pointed out, the Common Core Standards are in and of themselves insufficient to guide Catholic educational efforts (USCCB, 2014). Solomon (2003) states that standards represent a culture’s explicit statements that it “finds worthy of transmission” (p. 3). Our culture, as enshrined in the ubiquitous Common Core and its oppressive testing regimen, values a utilitarian approach to education that only half-prepares our students for life beyond high school graduation.  According to Archbishop Miller, “If a Catholic school is to deliver on its promise to provide students with an integral education, it must foster love for wisdom and truth, and must integrate faith, culture, and life” (p.45) by using instructional approaches that focus on much more than evidence from the text and whose horizon includes more than college and career.

There is much more to say regarding weaknesses in the Common Core ELA standards, especially another of the ELA shifts – graduated percentages of informational text.  The Common Core designers have errantly, without clear data or clear direction, mandated an increase in informational texts in all levels or all schools.  This, by necessity, means a  decrease in great literature.  More on this travesty will be forthcoming from The Cardinal Newman Society.

The Common Core’s dismissive attitude toward the transcendent power of literature is hopefully exposed not just by these articles but in reflecting again on Common Core architect David Coleman’s remarks, “[A]s you grow up in this world you realize people really don’t give a s–t about what you feel or what you think,” and “It is rare in a working environment that someone says, ‘Johnson, I need a market analysis by Friday but before that I need a compelling account of your childhood.’”  We can see how Catholic schools must completely reject these notions and their enshrinement in the Common Core.  We believe we are about authentic human excellence and human flourishing. We will, by happy circumstance, produce better workers and better scholars because we will produce better, more integrally developed, human persons.

Johnson may have a job, but will he have a life? Johnson’s boss may not care about what Johnson feels or thinks: but his wife will, and his children will, and his friends will, and his neighbors will, and if he is a teacher, his students will, and if he is a politician, his constituents will. And even his cynical boss may not care what Johnson thinks or feels, but his boss will care that Johnson thinks or feels. Johnson will not only be a stunted human being having learned under the Common Core, but he will also be a poorer employee.

Even public schools exist to produce thoughtful, productive and independent citizens in a democratic republic, not just workers and college students.   A strong democracy requires strong people, not just strong workers.  We need students to be more humanized in order to address the crisis and challenge of today’s world, not less.  This is not a time to set our sights on the “common” or the cultural status quo.  This is a time requiring vision and excellence.

In Catholic schools, we know we are not just producing workers and scholars, we are producing living, breathing, complex, contradictory, eternally destined, unrepeatable and immensely valuable human beings.  Our bishops and parishes do not support schools and keep them open to provide better “career and college readiness”.  They keep Catholic schools open to provide the liberation that comes from a thoughtful, loving and free encounter with the living God.  Catholic schools exist not for their pragmatic worldly usefulness, but rather to actuate the authentic freedom to which each person is called and to provide skills at apprehending and integrating reality, including that which transcends the text, in all of its fullness and glory.

References

Coleman, D., & Pimentel, S. (2012). Revised publishers’ criteria for the Common Core State Standards in English language arts and literacy, Grades 3–12. Retrieved from  http://www. corestandards.org/assets/Publishers_Criteria_for_3-12.pdf.

Benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus. (2008). Meeting with Catholic Educators: Address of His Holi- ness Benedict XVI. Retrieved from  http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/speech- es/2008/april/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20080417_cath-univ-washington.html.

Benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus. (2010). Address of the Holy Father to pupils of St. Mary’s Univer- sity College. Retrieved from http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/speeches/2010/ september/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20100917_mondo-educ.html.

Benedict, Pope Emeritus. (2014). Benedict XVI: Truth is not given up in the name of a desire for peace. Retrieved from  http://www.zenit.org/en/article/benedict-xvi-truth-is-not-given-up- in-the-name-of-a-desire-for-peace.

Brizee, A., & Tompkins, C. (2011). Form follows function: Russian formalism, new criticism, neo- Aristotelianism. Retrieved from https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/722/03/.

Delahoyde, M. (n.d.). Introduction to literature: New criticism. Retrieved from  http://public. wsu.edu/~delahoyd/new.crit.html.

Miller, Michael. (2006). The Holy See’s teaching on Catholic education. Atlanta, GA: Solidarity Association.

Murfin, R., & Ray, S. (1998). The Bedford glossary of critical and literary terms. Retrieved from http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/virtualit/poetry/critical_define/crit_newcrit.html.

National Council of Teachers of English. (2004). On reading, learning to read, and effective reading instruction: An overview of what we know and how we know it. Retrieved from http://www.ncte.org/about/over/positions/category/read/118620.htm.

Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. (2011). PARCC model con- tent frameworks: English language arts/literacy  grades 3-11. Retrieved from  www.parccon- line.org/sites/parcc/files/PARCCMCFELALiteracyAugust2012_FINAL.pdf.

Pearson, P. (2013). Research foundations for the Common Core State Standards in English lan- guage arts. In S. Neuman and L. Gambrell (Eds.), Reading instruction in the age of Common Core State Standards. Newark, DE: International Reading Association. Retrieved from http:// www.scienceandliteracy.org/research/pdavidpearson.

Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education. (1977). The Catholic school. Rome, Italy: Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education.

Solomon, P. (2003). The curriculum bridge: From standards to actual classroom practice. Thou- sand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, Inc.

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Common Core Assessments May Be Cost-Prohibitive for Catholic Schools

This is part of a series of reports on the Common Core State Standards Initiative and its potential impact on Catholic education.

Of key importance to parochial, private, and public school administrators and superintendents is the question of how to address the costs associated with the technological requirements for assessing students under the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Looking into what is being asked of schools by the two companies producing the CCSS assessments, one quickly sees that the expense associated with implementation of the new evaluation instruments is in excess of hundreds of thousands of dollars.  In addition to the cost of training teachers and purchasing the testing materials, school districts and private schools that choose to use Common Core Standards will find hardware costs taking a significant chunk out of their operating budgets.

Cost Drivers

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers (PARCC) and the Smart- er Balanced Assessment Consortium are both designing assessments for use with computers that have at least one gigabyte of memory and a screen display of 9.5 inches (10-inch class) at a resolution of 1,024 X 768 or greater (Norris & Soloway, 2013).  For optimal use, Smarter Balanced recommends at least an 80-GB hard drive or at least one GB of hard drive space be made available (Smarter Balanced, 2013a).  These requirements eliminate popular Netbooks and iPad minis or any of the new versions that have display sizes smaller than the required 9.5 inches.  Smarter Balanced recommends the iPad 3+ running iOS6 (Smarter Balanced, 2013a).

Additionally, many of the school systems and private schools are falling short of the recom- mended hardware-to-student ratio of 1:6-7 (Kantrowitz, 2013; Davis, 2012).  While there may be adequate technology available for Internet access, the support systems may be outdated or not compatible with the new assessment software.  For example, the testing software is not able to run on Microsoft XP systems. Thus these popular, well-functioning computers are not eligible for use with tests for this particular assessment.  Some states may initially choose to continue to use paper and pencil for their annual high-stakes tests, but this will not be an op- tion for schools that choose advanced techniques to master the Common Core assessments.

Inadequate bandwidth can also rule out some eligible computers and schools. At a minimum, additional bandwidth will be required along with the associated costs to enable simultaneous testing of multiple grades and sections.  What happens when not enough money is available? Will there be a divide between the “haves” and the “have nots?”  Who gets the new tests and other tools necessary to properly prepare students for these assessments?  How will these af- fect issues of adequacy and equity?  Will the lack of technology create a bigger achievement gap?

Of concern to administrators is the degree of technology dependence that has occurred throughout most programs associated with all schools. This reliance is evident and necessary, as there can be as many as five different tests administered within the year.  PARCC is developing three separate diagnostic tests (reading, writing, and mathematics) and both a mid-year and end-of-year assessment. In addition, two other performance tests associated with speech and listening are in the development stages (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers, 2013).   Smarter Balanced has similar requirements with both an interim and end of year assessment. Needs are enhanced when there is a quick turnaround time for school administrators and teachers to receive results, analyze them, and implement necessary instructional changes and interventions. In addition to student assessment, assessments will also be attached to some teacher evaluations whose deadlines vary throughout the year.

Teachers, as well as students, will need to become proficient on the use of testing software so that these variables are minimized when students are testing.  Nuances include kindergarten students being required to respond through a keyboard and students in grades four to five asked to type their responses in a minimum one-to two-page document (Carr & Dreilinger, 2013).  Time and money will need to be allocated toward teacher and student proficiency in online test-taking skills prior to any testing.

The per-pupil cost for PARCC assessments is quoted to be between $22.50 to $29.50, which is one reason why Florida opted out of these assessments (Chieppo & Gass, Aug. 15, 2013; Kantrowitz, October 15, 1013).  Georgia withdrew from PARCC, citing skyrocketing cost and loss of local control.  The GADOE intends to develop its own in-state tests aligned to Com- mon Core standards and is looking to other states to form possible partnerships in this development (Shearer, July 22, 2013).  Smarter Balanced tests are estimated to run from $22.50 to

$27.30, including scoring services (Smarter Balanced, 2013b).  According to Jacqueline King, Ph.D., (email communication, November 2013) private schools interested in participating in the Smarter Balanced testing option must be located in a state that is working with Smarter Balanced. Each state Department of Education has the option as to whether this arrangement exists.

Alternate Testing Possibilities

Options to the PARCC assessments include the new Aspire test being field tested by ACT. Scheduled for release in April 2014, Aspire was recently adopted by the state of Alabama (Stacey, 2013; ACT, personal communication, October 17, 2013).  This test will eliminate concerns about having to purchase computer software and hardware, as it offers an option of pencil and paper administration.  For scoring, schools can either mail in assessments with a turnaround time of 4-6 weeks or submit immediately through online access.  Aspire is being developed only for grades 3-8 and early high school (9th/10th  grade).  It is aligned to the Common Core Standards, and the reports will be coded to the pre-existing 1-36 scale of college readiness already used for the ACT exam. Per-pupil cost has yet to be released, but one can sign up on the ACT Website to receive immediate updates about the test’s release. Subject area exemplars are given on the website, and Common Core skills are evident, especially in the math exemplars where questions are asked as to how the student arrived at his or her answer.  At this time, ACT has not released how or who will grade these student self-response items, or if there is a local grading option. This test is available on the open market and not restricted to states that have signed on to one of the national testing consortia.

Private-school administrators who currently use the Iowa Test of Basic Skills may consider upgrading to Iowa Form E. Form E is the newest edition to the assessment suite of Iowa tests and was developed in 2010, before the Common Core Math and Language Arts Standards were finalized (Michele Baker, personal communication, Sept. 17, 2013). Norming for the 2010 Form E was performed in 2011, before most schools fully implemented CCSS. New norms for Form E can be expected every five years and according to Michele Baker, Senior Assessment Consultant for Riverside Publishing, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Form E will probably be available for 10 years or longer, at which time a newer edition will be released along with a new set of norms. By purchasing the Form E or Form F version (a parallel version in development) of the Iowa assessments, administrators would have the newest test based on pre-CCSS norms and full implementation.

Currently, Iowa Assessments have a turnaround time of about two weeks.  When tests are given in the fall (generally late September or early October) using a prescriptive approach for learning, it is not until November, after the administration reviews test results, that teachers are able to make classroom instructional changes.  By this time, 40 percent of the school year has passed.  With the new Iowa Form E assessment, a quick turnaround is now a possibility with the use of DataManager. This program is a robust online reporting system that provides administrators and teachers with almost immediate online reports.  While learning the system and how to request the reports might be a little time-consuming, anyone who has been granted access can generate a student report.  The Iowa Form E has also been aligned to the Common Core with a report option to print out a typical or traditional report, instead of the CCSS report.  This is beneficial for schools that may be in transition to new standards or that are waiting until the “dust has settled” before deciding to implement the CCSS.   Students can test in the traditional pencil and paper format, or the school can use an online computer testing option.  The per-pupil cost ranges from $7.43 to $10.08 for full DataManager reporting services, with an additional $3.00 for the Cognitive Abilities Test (Michele Baker, personal communication, September 17, 2013).  An additional benefit of using the Iowa tests is the use of standard scores students receive on Iowa tests, which have been validated and found to have a strong relationship with ACT college benchmark scores for college readiness (University of Iowa, n.d).

Private schools can also continue using the reasonably priced Stanford 10 for annual assessments.  These assessments were developed from a variety of professional organizations (International Reading Association, National Council of Teachers of English, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics) and were normed in 2007, prior to CCSS.  The Stanford 10, Form A has been aligned to the CCSS.  The cost is between $7.78 and $9.28 per student test with answer sheets costing $2.00 each.

It seems that for parochial, private, and public schools that are committed to any of the testing consortia, little can be done to escape the costs and time necessary for technology upgrades and teacher and student training.  For schools that are considering the CCSS assessment options and are in states governed by one of the consortia, considerations including computer upgrades, additional per-pupil testing costs, and possible additional testing time need to be budgeted and allotted.  Additional time is also required to train the students and teachers on the test-taking.  Until the impact of the CCSS initiative along with the newly designed testing instruments is realized, and in consideration of the research reported on this topic, schools can find a safe haven, at least for the time being, in the Iowa Forms E & F and Stanford 10 traditional assessments.

References

Carr, S. & Dreilinger, D. (September 29, 2013). “A Core dilemma: Will the littlest learners be able to type?”, The Hechinger Report. Retrieved from http://hechingerreport.org/content/a- core-dilemma-will-the-littlest-learners-be-able-to-type_13198.

Chieppo, C. & Gass, J. (August 15, 2013). “Why states are backing out on common core standards and tests,” The Hechinger Report. Retrieved from http://hechingerreport.org/content/ why-states-are-backing-out-on-common-standards-and-tests_12895.

Davis, M. (2012). “Are You Tech-Ready for the Common Core?”, Education Week. Retrieved from www.edweek.org/dd/articles/2012/10/17/01readiness.h06.html?tkn=NVZFOAfSykw%2BRxSo395jo6lu%2FANympkgfH41&print=1.

Kantrowitz, B. (October 15, 2013). “Testing the Common Core in Tennessee,”The Hechinger Report. Retrieved from http://hechingerreport.org/content/testing-the-common-core-in-ten- nessee_13468.

Norris, C., & Soloway, E. (2013). “Common Core Technological Standards: They Are the Tail, Not the Dog,” The Journal. Retrieved from http://thejournal.com/Articles/2013/01/14/ Common-Core-Technological-Standards.aspx?p=1.

Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers (2013). PARCC Test Administration Policies. Retrieved from www.PARCConline.org.

Shearer, L. (July 22, 2013). “Georgia will drop out of Common Core-aligned testing consor- tium.” Retrieved from http://onlineathens.com/local-news/2013-07-22/georgia-will-drop- out-common-core-aligned-testing-consortium.

Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (February, 2013a). “Hardware and Software Requirements Overview.” Retrieved from http://www.smarterbalanced.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Executive_Summary_Tech_Framework.pdf.

Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (2013b). “Frequently Asked Questions.” Retrieved from http://www.smarterbalanced.org/resources-events/faqs/.

Stacey, E. (February 13, 2013). “Alabama Exits National Common Core Tests.” Retrieved from http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2013/02/13/Alabama-exits-national-common-core-tests.

University of Iowa (n.d.). “Tracking Growth towards Readiness with the Iowa Tests.” Retrieved from https://itp.education.uiowa.edu/ia/documents/Assessment-Brief-Readiness- Final.pdf.

Catholic Identity Should Be at Heart of Common Core Decisions

This is part of a series of reports on the Common Core State Standards Initative and its potential impact on Catholic education.

As a former Catholic school administrator, of interest to me are the countless articles detailing the controversy surrounding the Common Core which are dominating educational news stories throughout the United States.  While passionate authors express their concerns regarding everything from the federalization of education to compromised standards, of most concern to those who share a passion for the mission of Catholic education are suggestions that adoption of the Common Core could compromise the mission of the Catholic education and ultimately secularize its schools.

Detailed throughout the magisterial teachings of the Church, the mission of Catholic education is described in the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education’s document, Lay Catholics, Witnesses to Faith (1982):

The integral formation of the human person, which is the purpose of education, includes the development of all the human faculties of the students, together with preparation for professional life, formation of ethical and social awareness, becoming aware of the transcendental, and religious education.  Every school, and every educator in the school, ought to be striving “to form strong and responsible individuals, who are capable of making free and correct choices,” thus preparing young people “to open themselves more and more to reality, and to form in themselves a clear idea of the meaning of life” (#17).

How the Catholic Church fulfills its role in Catholic education is outlined in the Code of Canon Law.   The Church has a duty and right in education in fulfilling its mission (Canon 794) and considers schools to be of great importance in assisting parents to fulfill the responsibility associated with the education of their children (Canon 796). Acknowledging parents have freedom in their choice of schools (Canon 797), the Church has the right to direct schools (Canon 800), “secure that in civil society the laws which regulate the formation of the young,” (Canon 799), and strive to keep alive the mission of Catholic education (Canon 801).

In regard to the Common Core, how do these standards impact the mission and Catholic identity of schools?  As a former accreditation chair for the Southern Association of Independent Schools (offering a dual accreditation from AdvancEd & SAIS), I found that those not entrenched in educationaleze often used terms such as standards and curriculum synonymously. The Foundation for Educational Excellence defines standards as expectations as to what is to be learned at each grade level and discipline.  A curriculum is the actual program, textbooks, materials, assessments and resources selected by the school to teach and ensure standards are achieved or “a means to the end”. Standards do not dictate how or by what means a concept is taught but present, at a minimum, concepts to be mastered.

Historically, schools have been evaluated for quality since 1895 (AdvancEd website).  More than one-hundred years later, regardless of the accreditation agency (secular, independent, Catholic), guidelines for accreditation include purpose or mission, leadership, teaching and learning, resources, and opportunities available for continuous improvement.  Under teaching and learning, schools must adopt academic standards that set expectations for learning, provide for continuity of instruction across subject areas and grade levels, benchmark progress, and create a foundation for standardized testing.  In our data-driven world, standards actually provide the measurable outcomes many parents equate with academic excellence. Standards do not provide a ceiling on what a student can learn; they provide a framework for the minimum of what must be achieved during a given year. It is important to note, accreditation guidelines do not dictate curriculum or pedagogy but look to see if the curriculum guides chosen (along with materials and resources) support the purpose or mission of the school.

What is clear about non-public schools, is the flexibility to choose a curriculum with goals in line with the mission of the school and that of Catholic education. How a curriculum is chosen in a Catholic school is primarily determined by how it is governed (archdiocesan, independent, regional, parochial, etc…). Most importantly, Catholic schools are under the authority of an ecclesiastical authority (Canon 803) with instruction and education required to be grounded in Catholic doctrine (Canon 803 § 2).  Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the Principal/ Head of School to closely oversee and monitor the implementation of the academic program to ensure that the mission of the school is supported and Catholic identity is not compromised.

From a Catholic identity perspective, a debate could be suggested as to whether the mission of Catholic education is truly at the center of the controversy surrounding the Common Core. If we take to heart the integral formation of each child and consider the goals set forth by the USCCB in Renewing our Commitment to Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools in the Third Millennium (2005), efforts surrounding the nuances of the Common Core need to be directed to ensuring that Catholic school leadership understands and supports the mission of Catholic education, that parents are considered partners in the education of their children, and ecclesiastical authorities (or their delegates) ensure that the standards and curriculum used in ev- ery school support and strengthen Catholic identity.  A discussion as to how Catholic school leaders assess excellence in education should be at the forefront of conversations surrounding Catholic education.  Are academic outcomes (SAT, PSAT, ACT, college acceptance) how we measure the success of Catholic education?  How do Catholic school leaders gauge whether the integral formation of each child has been achieved?

The Common Core has brought to the attention of countless individuals, many the product of a Catholic education, the need to refocus efforts to ensure that Catholic identity is at the fore- front of discussions related to adoption of the curriculum in Catholic schools.  Ecclesiastical leaders must give consideration to educational mandates not created by the Catholic Church. Governing boards, clergy, and superintendents need to carefully weigh who is placed in the position of Principal/Head  of School and entrusted with the academic, managerial, and spiri- tual leadership of the school.  Catholic parents have both the obligation and the right to edu- cate their children in the Catholic faith (Canon 793) and must act as an advocate for their child by working in partnership with the school.  It is the obligation of all constituencies to protect and defend Catholic education, as it is one of the primary evangelization arms of the Church with a legacy that spans over a century.