History of the Catholic Curriculum Standards

The Catholic Curriculum Standards came about after the release of the Common Core standards, when Catholic dioceses, schools, and the overall Catholic community reflected on the adoption of these national standards.

In response, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2014 released a statement explaining: “Catholic schools must consider standards that support the mission and purpose of the schools as a Catholic institution.” This quote became the impetus for the development of Catholic Curriculum Standards at the Cardinal Newman Society.

Principles Underpinning the Catholic Curriculum Standards

  1. Inspired by Divine Mission;
  2. Models Christian Communion and Identity;
  3. Encounters Christ in Prayer, Scripture and Sacrament;
  4. Integrally forms the Human Person;
  5. Imparts a Christian Understanding of the World.
  1. Focuses on the body, mind, and spirit;
  2. Promotes human virtues and the dignity of the human person as created in the image and likeness of God;
  3. Focuses on seeking, knowing, and understanding objective reality;
  4. Presents a Catholic worldview and enables a deeper incorporation of the student into the heart of the Catholic Church;
  5. Encourages a synthesis of faith, life, and culture.

The Structure, Organization, and Content of the Standards

There are 3 types of standards within the set:

  1. Content Standards (General)—Knowledge in the Content Area.  Example: Recognize Christian and Western symbols and symbolism.
  2. Performance Standards (Intellectual)—What students do to demonstrate competence. Example: Use imagination to create dialogue between characters in a story.
  3. Affective Standards (Dispositional)—Dispositions students possess. Example: Demonstrate respect and solicitude to individual differences in the classroom.

In a similar manner, the dispositional aspect of the Catholic Curriculum Standards follows a similar progression with students. And, while many of the Catholic dispositions are already taught in Catholic schools, the standards encourage them to have more depth and more intentional connections in curriculum.

“Not everything that counts can be counted, nor everything that can be counted counts.” Though dispositions are included in the standards, both Denise and Therese affirm that this does not mean they need to be assessed. Rather, such ‘soft skills’ can be gauged through observation.

Implementing the Standards into Curriculum

With Therese Edwards at the helm,  within their 31 Diocesan schools.

To implement the standards, The Diocese and Therese used Atlas and reformatted their template to fit the evolving approach to curriculum.

The Catholic standards are at the top of Lansing’s curriculum planner and act as the umbrella to the subsequent curricular information that follows. The intent of this is to ensure faith integration is woven into all units.

The “Faith Integration” box is an opportunity for teachers to identify “how” the themes from the standards will be integrated into a unit.

The Diocese of Lansing’s process embraces Cardinal Newman’s standards as a foundation and guide for their curriculum process, using them to inform unit writing and classroom instruction. As Denise mentions, these standards are malleable into curriculum and aim to make Catholic identity an integral part of Catholic education.

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