"We were asked how many were going forward with it, and every hand went up," he said.
The archdiocesan schools in Los Angeles, which Mr. Baxter said have until now been guided by California's prior state standards for English/language arts and math, are focusing first on the ELA section before tackling the math common core.
"I don't know of other sectors that have embraced it as fully as Catholic schools," said Joe McTighe, the executive director of the Council for American Private Education, in Germantown, Md. "They've in many instances never been reluctant to embrace public school programs."
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is in the second year of implementation for its 144 schools, which serve some 64,000 students.
"What appealed was that they're aligned with college and career expectations and include the rigorous content we've been known for, plus application of knowledge and higher-order skills," said Jacqueline P. Coccia, the superintendent of elementary schools there. "We felt this was a change that would really help us grow."
The Archdiocese of Louisville, which oversees 47 schools, is implementing the math standards now and will review and likely adopt the English/language arts standards soon, said schools Superintendent Leisa M. Schulz.
Sister Dale McDonald, the director of public policy and research at the Arlington, Va.-based National Catholic Educational Association, said she sees the overwhelming state backing for the common core driving broader changes in the education sector and creating pressure on Catholic schools.
"A very big consideration is all the textbook publishers, the testing manufacturers, are [adapting] their products" to the common core, she said, as well as teacher-preparation programs. "So if you're looking to hire new teachers coming out of a teacher education background, you're disadvantaged."
With so many Catholic schools turning to the common core, a national effort is under way to help make sure the imprint of their faith is on the standards. The Common Core Catholic Identity Initiative, which involves the NCEA, Catholic universities, and others, is developing and sharing resources and guidelines for schools to integrate Catholic identity--including values, beliefs, and social teachings--into curriculum and instruction based on the standards.
"We're showing people how you might develop this in a systematic way," said Sister McDonald from the NCEA. She explained, for instance, that teachers might introduce social-justice principles or a commandment during a lesson focused on the ELA standards.
Ms. Schulz from the Louisville Archdiocese welcomes the project.
"That's just the type of work we want our schools to have," she said. "We sometimes talk about 'baptizing' the state standards, so that we're really able to integrate our Catholic identity."
The common core also is taking hold among Lutheran schools in at least a few states, including Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio.
"We are strongly encouraging and recommending that Lutheran schools go with this," said Bruce N. Braun, the superintendent of schools for the Michigan district of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. His organization has more than 80 member schools in Michigan, and he says about 60 already have adopted the common core.
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