Common Core Statement
Statement of John Adams Academy Board of Directors on Common Core Implementation
Many parents at the academy have inquired about how the State of California’s implementation of the Common Core state standards will impact the curriculum of John Adams Academy and whether changes to our curriculum, textbooks and instructional materials will be required. After consultation with the academy’s legal counsel and administrative team, we are pleased to let you know that the impact on John Adams Academy appears to be very minimal at this time. We will be able to stay true to our distinct mission even as the state implements Common Core state standards.
The State of California developed state standards for each grade level in core subjects to provide guidance to textbook publishers and teachers about what scholar should be taught in each grade level. State standardized tests were aligned with these state standards such that scholars were tested in each grade on what teachers were to have covered in that grade. Charter school scholars are required to take these standardized tests, but each charter school is free to teach these state standards in the manner it deems fit. As a practical matter, this allowed flexibility for an academy like ours to have a classical leadership educational model that did not teach to the tests. Our scholars have done extremely well on the tests, but we believe that this is because of the classical education that they receive, not because they were taught how to rote memorize things.
Shift to Common Core
California has come under attack from many across the political spectrum who believe that its state standards lack the rigor that is found in the schools of other industrialized nations. As a result, many states, including California, have agreed to shift to a new set of state standards called “Common Core”. These standards are more rigorous than the current state standards. However, they do not incorporate all of curricular components that John Adams Academy believes is vital to a leadership education. The centralized nature of these state standards also is alarming to many people who believe that each state should continue to develop its own state standards.
In addition to the change in state standards, there will be a corresponding change to a new state testing system that measures what students are expected to learn under the Common Core standards in each grade level. John Adams Academy scholars will be required to take these tests, but we will maintain our freedom to teach scholars through the classical leadership education methodology so long as our scholars continue to perform well under these new assessments. We have no reason to believe that they will not perform at least as well. In fact, the change to new tests that attempt to measure a scholar’s problem solving abilities in lieu of tests that simply measure rote memorization of facts is likely to be of benefit to our scholars.
John Adams Academy Curriculum
The State Legislature has appropriated funds for the purpose of implementing the transition to Common Core standards this year. The Legislature has permitted these funds to be spent on technology, which is what the John Adams Academy administration plans to do. In future years, these funds might be earmarked specifically for textbook or instructional material purposes. It is the intent of the John Adams Academy Board to continue to buy books written by great thinkers rather than relying primarily on textbooks that merely summarize the great thinkers. Whenever possible, John Adams Academy will use Common Core implementation funding to continue to purchase the classical texts that the school currently uses. If the Legislature requires us to buy specific textbooks in some future fiscal year, we will make the determination whether it is in the best interests of the academy to buy textbooks and use certain portions of them to augment the classical texts used by scholars or just turn back the funding provided for standardized textbook purchases. However, at this time John Adams Academy is not faced with this choice and will be able to maintain its classical leadership education model.