When Georgia students return to school this year, they will be taught in accordance with the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards (CCGPS) in math, English language arts, science, social studies and technical subjects, reports Maureen Downey’s “Get Schooled” blog.
The CCGPS are part of the Common Core State Standards, a set of academic benchmarks aimed at raising the bar for teaching and learning across the country. These national standards were encouraged by the Obama administration, and came about through the collaboration of governors, state schools’ chiefs and Gates Foundation funding.
The goal of the state-led initiative is to establish a uniform set of expectations for what students will learn no matter where they attend school, and to ensure students are college- and career-ready after high school graduation.
The standards focus on teaching fewer things, in greater depth, and have been adopted by 46 states, the U.S. Department of Defense’s education programs and three U.S. territories. Georgia formally adopted the standards in July 2010, and the state’s educators have been training in them since March 2011.
Georgia allocated about $900,000 in grant money to cover Common Core training, which took place through online and in-person sessions, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
According to AJC's Get Schooled blog, the transition to CCGPS won’t present any dramatic changes for Georgia teachers and students because the state’s curriculum already overlaps with the standards outlined under the Common Core. Here are some examples students will see:
• Third graders will learn how to multiply and divide large numbers. They also will learn the function of adverbs, which was previously taught in fourth and fifth grade.
• Fourth-graders will tackle adding and subtracting fractions, which was not taught until fifth grade under the former curriculum.
• Eighth-graders will be taught the Pythagorean Theorem, rather than learning the concept in ninth-grade.
•Under Georgia Performance Standards, students were taught pronoun-antecedent agreement in seventh-grade. Common Core will teach that grammar rule in third grade.
The AJC reports that the major challenge facing educators transitioning to the Common Core is learning how to teach concepts that were previously taught in higher grades. There is also concern that switching which grades certain topics are taught in will lead to “gaps” in student learning unless teachers adequately compensate for them.
Boyd Elementary School Principal Keisha Gibbons says that teachers at the year-round school started testing some of the Common Core lessons during the final weeks of the 2011-12 school year. She told the AJC that the new standards are being met with mixed emotions.
"It's change and no one likes change," she said. "It's up to me and my team to make sure we alleviate some of the stresses and let them know they can do this.”
A new national test is scheduled to be introduced in the 2014-15 academic year that will gauge how well students are learning the Common Core. Until then, Georgia students will continue taking the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests.