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Common Core's Reach Not Limited to Public Schools

We've written a lot here about how public schools are working to implement the Common Core State Standards, but it turns out the standards also are making their way into a lot of private schools, as I report in a new EdWeek story.

The common core is proving especially prevalent in Catholic schools. More than 100 dioceses around the nation—Los Angeles, Colorado Springs, Cleveland, and Philadelphia, to name a few—have already adopted them, according to a recent survey from the National Catholic Educational Association. In fact, even the El Paso diocese in Texas, a state that took a pass on the common core. But it's not just Catholic schools, as I discovered in my reporting.

I interviewed a variety of education leaders in the private school sphere that are transitioning to the common core. They emphasized that the decision came only after a careful examination of the standards showed them to be worthy of adoption. That said, the widespread adoption by states has created considerable pressure for many private schools to get on board, given the influence the standards are starting to wield over textbooks, testing (state exams and off-the-shelf tests), and other matters, experts and education leaders say. Indeed, one concern I heard repeatedly was a belief that college-entrance exams will become more closely aligned to the common core. (Remember that the incoming leader of the College Board, David Coleman, was a lead author of the English/language arts standards. And he has said one of his top priorities is do just that with the SAT.)

Rest assured, the standards are never going to be embraced by all private schools. For instance, the head of the National Association of Independent Schools told me he expects few if any of his member schools to adopt them. (I decided to check with one of the nation's most prestigious boarding schools, Philips Exeter Academy, and was told, "we don't look to the standards.")

Even so, I learned of a few NAIS schools that, while stopping short of full adoption, did say the standards are having some influence on their curriculum, with a school official at Trinity Episcopal School in Charlotte, N.C., saying the standards are serving as "good guidelines and references."

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