Curriculum and Instruction
The curriculum used at Cornerstone Christian Academy has been thoughtfully chosen by the Cornerstone staff to focus on the school’s five Priority Learning Results:
- Students will be growing spiritually.
- Students will be effective thinkers.
- Students will be involved in effective action.
- Students will have effective relationships.
- Students will be lifelong learners.
The Cornerstone middle school staff understands that the selection of curriculum content for middle school students is important and that student engagement is pivotal. Staff has carefully chosen content focused around topics which include foundational knowledge and skills, but are umbrellaed under larger ideas and concepts. Staff uses the principles of Understanding by Design to develop instructional units around essential questions which provoke thinking and learning around Biblical truth in every content area. We feel that developing deeper understandings provides students with tools to be successful as they progress into high school and beyond.
The staff is committed to curriculum and instruction that is research-based and focused on Cornerstone’s grade-level expectations. Because we want our students to excel academically and spiritually, we have made significant investments in our teachers’ growth and development. Our teachers have been trained to differentiate instruction, engage students in critical thinking and questioning, measure student performance, develop strong Biblically-based curriculum and use technology to support learning. Most importantly, our teachers understand the importance of seeing learning through Biblical truth and the need to cultivate students who can critically think about and apply their learning.
Cornerstone Christian Academy for Learning & Leadership has invested in state of the art technology and has become one of the most technologically advanced Christian schools in the nation. Our classrooms have been modeled after the “Classroom of the Future” at Stanford University’s Wallenberg Center. Classrooms have multiple displays (LCDs and screens), mobile furniture for easy collaboration, and laptop computers or iPads for every student. Teachers have and will continue to receive on-site training for the use of the technology that supports and enhances our mission and objectives. The focus of our technology is not on the technology itself, but on how the technology can be used as a tool to further support the student’s and school’s learning goals. Our goal is to create a culture that mirrors the lives of students and their futures; one that seamlessly integrates today’s digital tools, accommodates a mobile lifestyle, and encourages collaboration and teamwork.
Middle School Classes
In grades 6-8, the classes include Bible, humanities, mathematics, science, and physical education. Our school also offers electives that give students a well-rounded education.
Students have opportunities each year to take various elective courses including music, art, Biblical entrepreneurship & leadership, media tech, Photoshop, photography, band, worship team, choir, language arts enrichment, and math enrichment.
Teachers use a wide range of instructional materials based on their units of instruction. Instructional materials are selected to best match with the school’s curriculum focus. This includes some use of traditional texts, Bob Jones Bible, Holt-McDougal/Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt language arts, Houghton-Mifflin Singapore Mathematics, but also Foss Kits for science exploration, specific book studies, and other media (i.e., newspapers, magazines, open and original source documents).
At Cornerstone, a wide variety of assessments are used over the course of the year by teachers in the classroom. This ranges from traditional tests and quizzes to rich and engaging performance tasks. Students receive a standards-based report card three times a year. These documents give students and parents a picture of student grade-level performance, individual growth, and character development.
Cornerstone annually uses three measures which give both individual and schoolwide data: Measure of Academic Progress reading, language, and mathematics assessments, a Cornerstone writing assessment, and Cornerstone Student Portfolio of Accomplishment.
Measure of Academic Progress
To be able to measure student progress we administer the nationally normed Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) test each fall and spring. This is an adaptive computerized test in reading, language, and mathematics which is aligned with state and national standards. It is a criterion-based growth model assessment which shows how students are growing compared to students across the country. On average, the MAP scores of Cornerstone students exceed the national average. Teachers have ready access to reports which give both summary information and individual student results.
Cornerstone Christian Academy Writing Assessment
Each spring, Cornerstone students in grade 7 participate in a writing assessment which is one of three genres: narrative writing, informational/explanatory writing, or argument/opinion writing. These assessments are then scored by the full Cornerstone faculty using holistic grade-level rubrics.
Cornerstone Christian Academy Portfolio of Accomplishments
Each spring, Cornerstone Christian Academy (CCA) has students produce an electronic Portfolio of Accomplishments because it values Biblically-based active, relevant, and self-reflective learning. A portfolio is an excellent tool to reveal student growth, progress, and depth of understanding.
Components of the portfolio include carefully chosen pieces of student work and self-assessment/self-reflections which align with the Cornerstone Priority Learning Results. The complexity of each portfolio is scaled according to the student’s age/grade level. Each spring, students present their portfolios to their parents in student-led conferences.
Although the middle school Portfolio of Accomplishments should be expressive of the student’s own uniqueness and individuality, there is a certain prescribed format to be followed. The required artifacts are intended to be authentic class assessments or performance tasks that are from regular class work.
The evidence in the middle school Portfolio of Accomplishments will comprise a minimum of six artifacts including:
- A Letter of Reflection about the Portfolio of Accomplishments
- One piece of evidence of reading
- Two writing selections – two of three writing genres: Informational/explanatory writing, argument writing, or narrative writing; one of these needs to show the process of writing (pre-writing, drafts, final product)
- One piece that demonstrates public speaking skills
- One multimedia selection
- Free choice (optional)