BJU Press Position on Common Core
As a publisher well known for maintaining excellent academics, BJU Press continually reviews all educational standards, state and national. To be aware of trends in education is not, of course, to be compliant with them. We believe that for us to live up to what we teach—critical thinking and discernment—we must review and assess standards. Not reviewing standards would hinder us from addressing errors in the standards and serving our customers who want to continue using our curriculum alongside Common Core State Standards (CCSS) or other applicable standards.
BJU Press is not changing any of its materials in order to be compliant with Common Core State Standards nor intentionally done anything to align with them. Because BJU Press materials are academically excellent, standards tend to match the textbooks, rather than the other way around. We do not receive, and have never received, any federal funding, and we oppose any federal intervention in education.
BJU Press is adamantly opposed to federal direction or involvement in the content or methods of the educational system, whether directly or indirectly (through conditions placed on grants and other financial transfers to the states in exchange for Common Core standards compliance or otherwise). Please be assured that biblical integration and academic excellence continue to be the true core of BJU Press, just as it always has been. We remember daily—and prayerfully—the great accountability under which we labor in supporting Christian education.
Our History: We Have Always Been About Excellence.
Dedicated since its founding almost forty years ago to excellence and Truth, BJU Press strives to keep itself constantly informed of changes in both pedagogy and technology. Staying abreast is not, of course, the same as blindly aligning with or even totally agreeing with. BJU Press serves all who want a publisher they can trust to deliver academically sound and biblically integrated materials and who expect that publisher to vigilantly check its products against rigorous standards, both educational and theological. By modeling what we teach, thinking critically and biblically about everything we produce, we have given much careful thought to addressing Common Core State Standards.
Our Position: We Have Not Changed Anything.
Showing that our materials meet most Common Core State Standards serves the needs for some of our customers. However, it does not mean that we have changed our position on core philosophy or in our own standards of good teaching to meet the standards. For example, with the Next Generation Science Standards currently under development, there will be some conflicts. Some standards we will address by approaching them from a proper Christian perspective. Some standards we will not address at all in our materials. We have been doing this critical evaluation with other national standards for years in an effort to stay true to Scripture while at the same time still properly preparing students for the expectations of higher studies and the requirements of standardized testing.
Moreover, some Common Core State Standards actually align with our standards. For example, both the English Language Arts and Mathematics standards contain an increased emphasis on deeper understanding of underlying concepts rather than on mere memorization of facts. They also emphasize critical thinking and the supporting of positions with evidence. Such standards fit well with our educational philosophy. We can easily show how these standards appear in our materials.
Other Common Core State Standards address only the minimum requirements and may be one or more grade levels below what we recognize as good teaching. We do not limit ourselves to the level of the standards but go beyond, based on our philosophy of learning and sound educational practices. In other words, our materials exceed these Common Core State Standards in age-appropriate instruction and academic rigor. So to show that we meet the standards is comparable to showing how plans for a church building meet building codes and guidelines. But, like a good builder, BJU Press goes beyond minimal standards to create a beautiful and functional space that would please even the most discriminating architect.
Our Responsibility: We Have a High Calling.
The Common Core State Standards are intended to be a quality check on secular education, a bar below which secular materials should not fall. A Christian publisher can refer to them in developing materials without being conformed to the world and can thus be, as a result, both salt and light. The benefit of teaching with BJU Press materials is getting an education from a Christian worldview that cannot be discredited. By consulting standards that are accepted in nearly every state and are becoming the basis of standardized tests, we not only maintain our own higher standards but also make it as easy for those who must prove Common Core compliance to use the best Christian materials available as it is for those who do not have to or do not want to.