Curriculum, Textbooks, and the Role of Teachers in Curriculum Planning

As a quality school, Colorado Springs Christian Schools places a high priority on the continuous development of its instructional program and the documentation that guides that program. At each grade level taught and in each secondary course, an instructional program includes far more than the contents of any textbook. The CURRICULUM GUIDE is a description of what is taught throughout the school, and as such, it…

(1) describes the school’s instructional program

(2) helps to ensure continuity between grade levels
and subject areas, andTrish w student

(3) guides the teacher in planning instructional activities and purchasing of textbooks and materials,

(4) provides a basis for evaluation of the school’s instructional program.

It is understood that the curriculum development process takes time and that it is revisited on a regular basis to keep it effec­tive and applicable. While the initial development of a site-specific curriculum document will take several years, the true value is found in the ongoing revisit of those documents, the adjustment and revision that keep them current, and the updating in response to new educational research, instructional trends, and emerging content. As a school matures and adjusts its instruc­tional program, the curriculum guide must change as well, reflecting improvements to instruction, changes in supportive materials, and expansion of the school’s biblical integrative components.

The curriculum guide is a tool to inform the work of the teacher. A school’s curriculum guide is a collaborative effort of teachers in the same department or grade level as well as those above and below it. Members of the faculty at other levels review the guide for a given level to insure that gaps and overlaps do not exist.

Finally, the heart of any school’s instructional program should be the teacher.  At CSCS, we refer to our faculty as the Living Curriculum.  While we work hard at providing a great course of study, engaging instructional activities, and mission appropriate materials, it is up to the teacher to make it come alive in the spirit with which it was developed.  Through diligent support and regular evaluations, we make sure that this curriculum is followed with fidelity so that students at our school are truly receiving the experience for which they came.

CSCS Reverses its Position on the Common Core State Standards          (written February 2014, updated October 2014)

While working through our curriculum review process in 2013-2014, we considered the Common Core State Standards for math and English along with other standards, test guidelines, scope and sequences from textbooks, experts in the field, and our own teachers’ expertise as we wrote our revised course maps. This was all done from our Christian frame of reference. We found that we met or exceeded the Common Core State Standards in almost every area. The only changes that we felt the Common Core State Standards helped us focus on was more in-depth reading of textual material throughout all subject areas and moving a few skills into different grade levels. For the most part, it confirmed that we already covered all the educational standards included.

However, several issues became attached to the standards and attracted such negative press that we can no longer separate those from the standards themselves. We had to rethink our position about considering them at all in our curriculum review because of these highly politicized issues. The “Common Core” issue has became so broad that it now entails data mining (privacy), development of a national curriculum, local control of education, controversial materials (texts), and last but not least, relativism and other philosophies opposed to Christianity. Though these were never an issue at CSCS and how we used the standards, we backed away from even referencing them because of all the negative connotations.

Having decided to no longer reference or use these standards, we are looking for other appropriate standards. While the Common Core State Standards were convenient because they were a compilation of all 50 states, they are not the only math and English standards available. Our biggest challenge will be that many of the current textbooks have “Common Core” standards identified on their pages. We are in the process of carefully reviewing each textbook to see if those standards and the methods they use to teach the standards are educationally sound and consistent with our Christian perspective, or if some of the ways the textbook companies choose to present those standards violate our core values. If the latter is the case, we will either skip those sections, use additional materials, or replace the materials all together. In math, we have replaced some textbooks completely, replaced some sections of others with supplemental materials, and for others, the teachers are creating their own materials.  We were able to purchase elementary and middle school reading and literature books that are non-Common Core.  At the high school level, our literature books were actually written prior to the push with Common Core, so while they have some indication where they tell us how they cover the same skills, these are the skills we would have covered anyway.  They were not written with the Common Core in mind.

The bottom line is, at CSCS we develop our own curriculum and it is academically rigorous and always from a Christian perspective. We take the best of the best, reviewing the competencies we know students will need for college or the next level of preparation in the lower grades. We do not use the Common Core Standards in our curriculum development. Our commitment always has been and will continue to be that a CSCS education is excellent and from a Christ-centered perspective. We will continue to keep that promise!

Thank you for your patience, input, and understanding in this matter. We appreciate it and each of you!

There are 13 dual credit courses available this year for students to earn both high school and college credit at CSCS.  A recent survey from Colorado  Christian University, with whom we partner for the majority of our courses, found that over 90% of their dual credit courses were accepted at colleges and universities all over North America.  The only schools that did not accept them were those that did not typically accept AP courses.

The application form must be returned to the guidance office by October 17. For more information, go to the Current Families–>Campuses–>High School–>Guidance Department for a list of courses and universities, cost, and criteria for acceptance.