The proposed standards would replace older standards that Gov. Brian Kemp and State School Superintendent Richard Woods have sought to replace for several years. They announced the start of a standards review process in 2019. It involved more than 300 ELA educators and thousands of public comments.
The existing ELA standards focus less on phonics, a concept that has been gaining adherents nationally and in Georgia.
Last year, Fulton County Schools began implementing a new training program for teachers that emphasizes phonemic awareness and phonics.
It falls under a broader movement to refashion teaching following the tenets of what’s being called ”the science of reading,” an approach, informed by cognitive psychologists and neuroscientists. The movement recently influenced Gwinnett County’s school system to overhaul its literacy curriculum.
The Georgia General Assembly embraced the ideas in 2019 with a law that mandates annual screening for dyslexia in kindergarten through third grade starting in 2024. Parents of children with dyslexia have been major advocates of phonics.
The ELA standards are just one portion of a broad set of academic guides for the various grades and subjects. The standards influence local choices about curriculum and when portions of it are taught. They also inform the state’s standardized Milestones tests that are given in some grades and subjects to measure whether students are learning what the standards dictate.