Sonlight and the Common Core State Standards

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Many organizations, companies, and curriculum providers are working to align themselves with the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

Sonlight is not. Why is Sonlight not seeking to conform to the new Common Core?

First, Sonlighters already succeed. The Common Core is the latest attempt by policy makers to encourage schools to help students achieve. Sonlight students already do amazingly well academically. Sonlighers aren't failing. Many schools are. If politicians can find a way to help more students, that's great. But with over 20 years of success inspiring students--and parents--to love to learn, it would be foolish for Sonlight to change.

Second, Sonlight does things differently. Our revolutionary, literature-based approach--now embraced by many homeschool providers inspired by our success--doesn't exactly mirror most school material. Of course, outside of a fully embraced "Common Core," no two schools--or classrooms--are going to be completely in sync. So that's not really a problem. Far more importantly, Sonlight's focus is different. We take a global perspective from a unique educational philosophy.

Third, we're here to help you. We are aware of what's going on in the wider educational world, but our focus is on helping you. That's why we offer free access to Advisors, a year-long guarantee, and continually update our Instructor's Guides. Tweaking our curriculum to fall in step with what others are doing doesn't do much to help you teach your children. Such initiatives may help the government better direct schools, but the Common Core won't help you teach your children to read, learn math, or understand history. We'd rather focus on creating tools that assist your family's homeschool journey.

Sonlight is not adjusting our homeschool curriculum to align with the new Common Core.

Since Sonlight is not accredited, we are not bound to the "Common Core" standards (you can read more about accreditation here). We regularly update our programs to ensure you have tools to give your children an excellent education. But rather than follow the latest fads and hype about educational theory, we tend to stick to what we know works: Great books, lots of tools in your Instructor's Guide, and a focus on developing a life-long love of learning. Sonlight pioneered the literature-rich approach to homeschooling over twenty years ago. And we're not changing that.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester

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Filmmaker, Writer, Pseudo-Dad
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25 Responses to Sonlight and the Common Core State Standards

  1. Sofia says:

    Amen! Glad to hear this:). Thank you Sonlight.

  2. Michelle Johns says:

    Thank you! I was considering switching fully to Sonlight with all three of my kids next year, and your article has just sealed the deal. Keep doing what you do.
    Michelle Johns

  3. ElaineB says:

    So glad to see this!

  4. Michele says:

    Thank you, Luke...and Sonlight!

  5. Cynthia says:

    THANKS!!! Could not agree with you more!

  6. His Treasures says:

    Thank You!!! Thank you for understanding that most home schools are purposely NOT a mirror of a public school classroom. God has granted us each individual gifts and the free will to choose how to best grow and use those gifts to freely return to Him glory to His name.

  7. Glad to hear it. Don't change a thing! We love Sonlight just the way it is!

  8. Mandy says:

    THANK YOU!!!! I have been calling my senators and local school boards here in Ga. because it seems unclear how these standards will overlap into the area of home study. To be honest, the fact that homeschool curriculum providers would be changing NEVER crossed my mind!! Thank you for sending out this post, and for not changing! I have used " Sonlight cores for the last 8 years along with a few "extra-curriculars" from other companies. However, now I will be watching for this over the next few months when attending homeschool conferences.

  9. Jodi says:

    So glad to hear- yet another reason why I love Sonlight!

  10. Christina says:

    Indeed! that's why we use Sonlight. If I wanted to conform our homeschool to the latest government standards, I would just put my son in public school again. No thanks. Thanks to you all at Sonlight for providing a better/broader alternative.

  11. Jeanie says:

    Thank you for releasing a clear statement regarding this. I first chose sonlight after the fallout with CHEC. You were so clear and honest and that drove me to pick sonlight. Your clarity and transparency regarding common core further convinces me that we will continue to use sonlight. We LOVE the books and rich global history. Keep on keeping on! Thank you!

  12. Tanya says:

    Thank you, Sonlight!!!

  13. Susan says:

    This is good news! So glad to see that Sonlight sees some issues with Common Core!

  14. Allyson says:

    Thank you so much. I've been very concerned about this and have been anxiously looking for insight into Sonlight's stance regarding Common Core. I am so relieved to read this post and to hear your clear statement, as I love what Sonlight has to offer. Happy that we will be able to continue using Sonlight! Thank you!!!

  15. Elizabeth says:

    So very THRILLED to see this! I already love Sonlight and am glad to see I won't have to find another program or attempt to build one myself. Thank you!

  16. Summer says:

    I am so happy to hear this! Sonlight is amazing, and I am so happy that you are not changing to meet Common Core Standards.

  17. Rena G. says:

    I am SOO glad to hear that you are not Common Core aligned!! Gives me great peace!

  18. Karen says:

    I am very pleased Sonlight is remaining independent of the common core. Many homeschoolers have decided to homeschool specifically for the freedom from aligning themselves from any government oversight as to their studies! I am relieved we can continue our education enjoying Sonlight and all it has to offer.

    Homeschoolers have been able to remain independent up until now, and jump thru the various hoops of standardized testing and such, and I believe we will continue to find a way to do so. My concern is that will the revisions of the standardized tests and college entrance exams become so curriculum-specific as to set up independent learners for failure? Even if our standards may exceed theirs, these tests will be common core specific. We may not even read the same books or study the same criteria per grade level! How can we prepare our kids best to pass these tests? We are in Colorado and my son has to take his first standardized tests next year. I appreciate any input on this!

  19. Luke says:

    Karen, I know many people--including, for example, teachers and the College Board--are still trying to figure out the impact of CCSS and how to address the issues that are surfacing. So you are not alone! I am not aware of what changes are actually coming to the standardized tests. I haven't read anything on that topic, specifically.

    Something to keep in mind: The Common Core State Standards do not dictate curriculum changes. They set a standard--a rather low one, if I'm reading thing correctly--and publishers, teachers, and school districts merely need to meet those standards. I think SteveH makes a great point in the comments of this post: "...the standards are so vague that educators use them to justify whatever they want..." So, at the moment, I am not concerned about any specific information that will be tested that homeschoolers will somehow miss.

    In other words: Standardized tests should not, under CCSS, suddenly be about making sure you've read the right books.

    Hope that helps alleviate some of your concerns!

    ~Luke

  20. Karen says:

    Thank you Luke for the great info, it helps a lot. I think the growing concern is that the "standards" may eventually lead to a national curriculum to fit the criteria. I have read that entrance exams will be revised to meet the standards, quoted from HSLDA article http://www.hslda.org/docs/news/2012/201212170.asp

    "The CCSS specifically do not apply to private or homeschools, unless they receive government dollars (online charter school programs have no such protection). However, HSLDA has serious concerns with the rush to adopt the CCSS. HSLDA has fought national education standards for the past two decades. Why? National standards lead to national curriculum and national tests, and subsequent pressure on homeschool students to be taught from the same curricula.

    The College Board—the entity that created the PSAT and SAT—has already indicated that its signature college entrance exam will be aligned with the CCSS. And many homeschoolers worry that colleges and universities may look askance at homeschool graduates who apply for admission if their highschool transcripts are not aligned with the CCSS."

    I am also unclear regarding how and if the standardized tests will ultimately be affected. We have yet to take one. Fellow homeschoolers seem to be assuring that at this point, so long as my child performs at grade level or better, that the tests should not pose a problem. Pigeon-holing the test criteria would be really unfair to independent learners, and I hope it never happens!

    With all that said, what are the ways homeschoolers have been preparing for these tests historically, other then a great year of Sonlight! Are there helpful study guides or test preps available for each grade somewhere? Thanks!!

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