State ed board tweaks Common Core. Will critics be satisfied?

In an effort to preserve the Common Core State Standards in Georgia and appease critics, the state Board of Education approved changes today that reflect input gathered at a series of public hearings around the state over the last few months.

Credit: Maureen Downey

Credit: Maureen Downey

Minor changes were made to the

language arts


math standards,

the only Common Core Standards in place in Georgia

Most of the revisions are in math and clarify language and sequence. As the AJC reported:

There are a few additions and some rearranging of standards in the proposed revisions, but mostly the changes clean up language and terminology. For example, in analytic geometry, the standard "prove that all circles are similar" is changed to "understand that all circles are similar."

Georgia adopted Common Core in 2010 with little fanfare. Somehow, Common Core became an explosive political issue last year. Many critics admitted they hadn't read the standards but opposed them on principle because they represented a federal initiative and intrusion.

Critics were not persuaded by repeated declarations the standards originated with the nation’s governors, including Sonny Perdue of Georgia who co-chaired the effort.

Neither were opponents assuaged when a majority of Georgia teachers said in surveys they supported Common Core

Contrary to what opponents said at public hearings, most teachers surveyed didn't find the standards confusing and felt they would improve student learning. (Which ought to be our No. 1 concern, but somehow hardly seems to matter in debates at the Legislature where scoring political points is the success metric.)

What I find most interesting about the disdain for the feds having any presence in education is that the federal government plays a leading role in medical research and advancement.

Would any sane person argue Georgia should eschew medical innovations or cancer treatments developed via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, the Department of Health and Human Services or the Food and Drug Administration?

No. Because Georgians would not tolerate people outside of the medical profession substituting their uninformed judgments for those of doctors and health care researchers. And we all want the most effective medical treatments when our kids or parents are ill.

Yet, we give credence to the indictment of education standards by people outside the field who just don’t like them because they believe – incorrectly – the U.S. Department of Education had a hand in crafting them.

And we wonder why meaningful education reform is so hard to achieve here in Georgia.

Here is the official release from DOE:

The State Board of Education has approved revisions to the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards (CCGPS) in English language arts and math. Those standards were posted for a 60-day public comment period on November 12.

“We have taken care to hear the concerns of educators, parents, and other stakeholders, and to make changes on the basis of that feedback,” State Board Chair Helen Rice said. “These revisions ensure that our standards are responsive to the needs of Georgia students and educators.”

The standards were revised based on a formal review and evaluation process, as directed by an executive order from Governor Nathan Deal. That process included several survey opportunities, along with legislative and state Board of Education listening sessions. Finally, the public was invited to comment on the proposed revisions for 60 days following their proposal by the State Board.

“I am committed to ensuring the very best standards for our students, and the Governor and State Board of Education share that goal,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “The proposed revisions are a step in that direction. However, we must retain the authority to make changes to the standards, which we will do when educators tell us changes are necessary.”

As part of the review process, survey feedback was collected and analyzed by the University System of Georgia. A working committee representing Georgia public school teachers, post-secondary staff, parents, and instructional leaders made revisions to the standards based on public feedback and recommendations from survey results for standards with less than 90 percent approval. ELA and Mathematics Advisory Committees then reviewed the recommended changes and provided additional suggestions based on public feedback. Members of the public were then invited to comment on the proposed revisions for 60 days.

Note: Some survey respondents, as well as the Academic Review Committee, felt that certain standards needed to also be emphasized in the teacher guidance documents developed by the Department of Education for each grade/course and subject. Some of the recommendations to be emphasized in Guidance and Professional Learning include: phonics instruction; cursive writing; literature and informational text; traditional computing methods; and the memorization of addition, subtraction, and multiplication facts.