WNY Catholic schools leader embraces Common Core

Dec 10, 2015

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany recently took a stand to scale back on the number of Common Core tests it will administer. But as WBFO's Focus on Education Reporter Eileen Buckley tells us the Diocese of Buffalo has no plans to cut back.

"We have embraced the Common Core Standards, however, we continue to use our own curriculum, because our curriculum is faith based," declared Sister Carol Cimino, SSJ, Ed.D., Superintendent of Catholic Schools in Western New York.  

Inside a religion class at St. Mark School in Buffalo.
Credit WBFO News file photo

Catholic and private schools are 'not required' by the state education department to administered state tests.  However, Cimino tells WBFO News they have spent a great deal of time parsing out and analyzing the standardized tests for their students.

"But the standards are clear, they're real, they're  genuine and they're rigorous, so who wouldn't want to follow the standards, we just have not embraced the curriculum," stated Cimino.

But the Diocese does not use testing to review catholic school teachers.  "We do not use the tests to evaluate our teachers. We never have, never will," replied Cimino.

In early October the Albany Catholic Diocese said it was stepping back from some of the Common Core testing.  In the Capital Region it will only administer the tests this coming spring to students in third, fifth and seventh grades, not grades three through eight as required for public school students statewide.

Unlike some of the discontent against the standards Cimino said she believes they are solid and important for a student's learning.

"We spend an awful lot of time looking through the test results so we can determine, number one, what kids need -- what kind of help -- what kind of skills do they need and number two, how can we provide professional development for our teachers so that they can help these kids," said Cimino.

Inside a Nativity Miguel classroom in Buffalo.
Credit WBFO News file photo

Despite a large 'opt out' movement amount public school students statewide, the rate for local catholic school children checked in at only about 9-percent.  Cimino doesn't believe there's too much testing. Cimino said no decisions have been made to pull back on testing, but she is open to discussions