Perhaps our chief issue with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is two-fold.
First, CCSS has at its heart an all-encompassing and pedagogically inappropriate emphasis on critical thinking at the expense of foundational and concrete learning such as memorization and collaborative experience. So for example, instead of urging a young, concrete thinking child toward foundational memorization of multiplication tables, he is pressed toward the abstract nature of the inquiry method where he is supposed to “discover” the knowledge for himself. This is frustrating and dissuading, not only for students, but for parents as well. What does this look like in reality? Consider for a moment the following CCSS math problem required of a 2nd grade student: “Use the relationship between division and multiplication to describe why 1/2 divided by 3/4 equals 4/6 because 3/4 of 4/6 equals 1/2.” What could be a simple calculation supported and retrieved from concrete, foundational knowledge has become a frustrating, drawn out, and subjective effort at mathematical narrative. In the early childhood and elementary levels, it has been noted that for many children subjected to this philosophy for education, they are now found struggling where they were at one time flourishing with confidence.
Second, CCSS was designed according to the assumption that children develop and learn at relatively the same rates. To highlight this, consider the Common Core standard which requires all kindergarten children to “read emergent reader texts with purpose and understanding.” The normal age range for beginning reading is between ages 4 and 7. While some children may be ready, others may not. This is normal. We understand this, and so our approach is precisely individualized while at the same time challenging in order that each student achieves his or her greatest potential.
It is true that most modern textbooks (for example, Saxon Math) are in alignment with CCSS, and while we do employ some of these textbooks in our school, we neither subscribe to nor teach the material according to the ideology and practice of CCSS. As a Christian school apart from the public school mandates and structures, we are not obligated to do so, and thusly, we don’t.