"We think it's good for kids," he said. "And there is some room for creativity, room for you to be a professional in how you reach the standards."
He's hearing positive feedback from Lutheran schools about the standards, but also said it may be risky for them to take a pass.
"Many of us are thinking, if this is going to show up in assessments, if this is going to be the direction publishers are going to go, for us to ignore it, that's not healthy for kids, not healthy for the system," he said.
Jeff Blamer, the membership director for Christian Schools International, based in Grand Rapids, said he expects to see widespread adoption among his roughly 400 U.S. member schools.
"The only place where I would qualify that is if any standard interfered with the mission or biblical worldview of a school," he said.
Adopting the standards especially comes to a head when it's time for a school to go through a periodic reaccreditation process, he said, as schools typically need to identify the standards underlying their academic programs.
Jeffrey T. Walton, the executive director of the East Ridge, Tenn.-based American Association of Christian Schools, said his roughly 800 member schools are leery of embracing what they see as national standards that the federal government placed pressure on states to adopt, but he expects many will ultimately feel compelled to reflect them in instruction, at least to some extent.
He's aware of a handful that already are citing the standards as their guide in going through reaccreditation.
"It's like they're warily circling them," he said. "There's no great track record for national reform efforts that would make independent schools want to jump on the next bus that rolls by."
But Mr. Walton cites several reasons schools will seriously consider them, such as interest in "seeing how their curriculum and instruction stacks up against the standards," concern for students who may transfer back to public schools, and the expected impact on K-12 standardized tests, textbooks, and college-entrance exams.
"So our schools are looking at them," he said, "realizing it's probably something we're going to live with."
Chester E. Finn Jr., the president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a Washington-based think tank, said that if the common standards take firm hold in public education over time, they will increasingly touch private schools.
"They'll be affected in a more gradual and spotty way, but of course they'll be affected," he said, including by "practical things, like college-entrance expectations and college-entrance tests, things that they are part of even if they're not part of their state standards and testing systems."
And parents may come to expect some alignment.
"There may be over time a gradual cultural expectation that 6th graders learn such and such in the United States," he said.
But Mr. Finn, a vocal proponent of the standards, said their reach has limits.
"Keep in mind that, so far, common core is just two subjects," he said. "And you can teach them in a variety of ways. It does tell you what the kids are supposed to have learned, but does not tell you what sequences, what kind of textbook to use, whether to have the desks in circles or rows, to be didactic or constructivist in your pedagogy."
'Not on the Bandwagon'
Some private school educators, impressed by the common core, say their schools are drawing on the standards but stopping short of full adoption. Aspen Country Day School studied the common core as part of its reaccreditation effort, when it was revamping the curriculum.
"We used it as sort of a jumping-off point, depending on the program area," said Andy Davies, the school's curriculum director.
The standards have been especially influential in math.
"Our lower school math is grounded in the common core, and I would say our language arts is influenced," she said. "As an independent-school person, I can use it as a stake in the ground and massage it so that it meets our needs."
Trinity Episcopal School in Charlotte, N.C., a K-8 independent school, also is taking common-core elements to inform its curriculum.
"We began with the English/language arts, and we were in the process at that time of trying to make some changes around writing and grammar, and as we looked at the document, we liked it," said Christine H. Weiss, the head of Trinity Episcopal's lower school.
"We're not wholesale adopting," she said. "We have embraced them, and we are using them as good guidelines and references and resources. ... But we're not on the bandwagon, jumping and buying everything that says common core on the cover."
Coverage of the implementation of the Common Core State Standards and the common assessments is supported in part by a grant from the GE Foundation, at www.ge.com/foundation.
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