December 8, 2021

Principals of Top Catholic High Schools Fear ‘Common Core’ Would Harm Their Schools

Principals of America’s leading Catholic high schools are concerned about the impact that adopting the national “Common Core” standards could have on their schools’ Catholic identity, according to a survey of Catholic High School Honor Roll winners conducted by The Cardinal Newman Society.

The principals oppose Catholic schools rushing to adopt the Common Core standards, which are not yet completed and have been criticized by a growing number of education experts and parent organizations. There is no legal requirement for Catholic schools to adopt these standards.

The Cardinal Newman Society’s Catholic High School Honor Roll is a national program that has recognized secondary schools for strong Catholic identity and academic excellence since 2004.

In October, the Newman Society surveyed principals of the Top 50 high schools that were recognized by the Honor Roll in 2012, as well as 23 schools that received “honorable mention” for Catholic identity, academic excellence or civic education.  Of the 73 schools surveyed, 60 responded.  The survey results are statistically accurate at a 95 percent confidence level with a 5.38 percent margin of error.

Only 13 percent of the principals think the Common Core standards would improve the education at their schools, while nearly half (48 percent) think it would do harm.

The principals indicate strong concerns about the compatibility of the Common Core standards with Catholic schools.  Seventy-two percent of Honor Roll principals prefer that dioceses and Catholic schools either reject or at least delay consideration of the Common Core standards until more is known about the potential impact on Catholic education.  Nearly one-third (32 percent) say they prefer that dioceses and Catholic schools simply decline to participate in the Common Core project.  Another 40 percent want the Church to take more time to study the standards more closely.  Twenty percent prefer that Catholic schools adopt the standards, but only with significant changes to protect Catholic identity.  Only 8 percent are comfortable with Catholic schools accepting the Common Core as it is.

The Cardinal Newman Society is completing a report analyzing the Common Core’s potential impact on Catholic schools, including portions written by leading education and public policy experts; a legal analysis of potential religious liberty threats if the Common Core compromises Catholic identity; a review of similar efforts to nationalize education standards; and an analysis of the potential impact of Common Core on liberal education in Catholic schools.

In that report, the Newman Society will release additional results from the survey of Catholic high school principals.

This week, the Catholic High School Honor Roll is co-sponsoring a private meeting of Catholic school superintendents, principals and other Catholic school experts to discuss concerns about the Common Core.  The event is organized by the National Association of Private Catholic and IndependentSchools (NAPCIS) and co-sponsored by several Catholic dioceses and organizations.

Catholic Education Daily is an online publication of The Cardinal Newman Society. Click here for email updates and free online membership with The Cardinal Newman Society.