Georgia state leaders make moves to change education standards

Georgia state leaders make moves to change education standards

ATLANTA, Ga. (WTOC) - Georgia parents who had to relearn how to do math to help their kids under Common Core standards may have to learn a new system. This week, Georgia education leaders started the process of repealing and replacing the state’s K-12 education standards.

The state adopted the Georgia Standards of Excellence in 2015 for math and english, but they are nearly identical to Common Core standards adopted in 2009. Those standards just outline what students should know in each grade.

The Common Core program did increase testing to track student progress. Governor Brian Kemp said the expectations are cumbersome and confusing to teachers and parents.

“It’s almost gotten just out of control in some regards,” Kemp said. “I do believe in accountability. We need to be able to measure, but sometimes we spend more time measuring than we do teaching, so we got to have the right balance.”

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (R) speaks with WTOC's Wright Gazaway
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (R) speaks with WTOC's Wright Gazaway (Source: WTOC)

The argument for Common Core is that it allowed for continuity when students move, and it made it easier to track student progress.

Over the years though, those against it argued it was government overreach, and was too confusing and cumbersome for teachers and school systems. They also think teachers teach to benchmark tests and not the needs of students. Georgia’s governor is among those people. He said his move to replace the standards goes back to his campaign promise of allowing local control.

“I think just from being on the campaign trail hearing from literally parents, students, a lot of educators, it’s just too cumbersome, and we need to put an end to it,” Kemp said. “I campaigned as being a local control governor.”

Tuesday, the Department of Education posted a survey, which is posted here, for anyone to weigh in on english and math standards. The details on what the new standards will be, or how they’ll be different from the current ones, are vague right now. Kemp says the goal with new standards is simplification.

“Everything in education is hard. It’s hard in government when you make change. People get set in their ways. I’m very careful about moving the needle on educators,” Kemp said. “I think we’ve done that too much. It confuses them. I think this is an issue that a lot of people want to see some simplification to.”

The president of the Thomas B. Fordham Instituate, a national educational advocacy group, said getting rid of Common Core is a waste of time.

“A much better use of the public’s time, and educators’ energy, is to focus on improving the teaching and learning of the material covered by the standards,” said Michael Petrilli. “In that respect, Georgia is falling behind leading states like Tennessee and Louisiana. That’s a problem."

A committee made up of people across the education field will draft new standards, according to the state superintendent’s office. One mother and education advocate hopes that includes child development experts.

“It’s not enough for politicians to say, ‘this is what we want to do; this is why we want to do it.’ We need education experts who know the research, who have gone to school for this, to be involved in the developing standards,” Chelsey Beck said.

Beck is also concerned about whether the new standards will be age and developmentally appropriate. Detractors of Common Core said the standards fail to recognize developmental differences and whether teachers can cover the content required in a single school year.

State Superintendent Richard Woods said making sure the new standards are age and developmentally appropriate is a top priority.

The superintendent and the stake-holder committee develop the new standards. They will then be presented to the state education board for approval. If all goes smoothly, the standards can be changed in about a year. There would then likely be a training period for teachers and school systems - likely lasting a year.

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