Georgia, South Carolina adopt new academic standards for math, English

Changes coming 2014-15

Educators in Georgia and South Carolina will teach new academic standards in English and math in the next few years.

Both states are among 43 -- and the District of Columbia -- that have adopted the Common Core State Standards in those two subjects. Education experts consider these standards to be more rigorous than those in place.

Georgia and South Carolina plan to have the new standards and associated tests in place by the 2014-15 school year, which is about in line with a number of states that have adopted the new benchmarks, according to a report being released today by the Center on Education Policy.

"States are making progress and see strong support for common core standards, but this is going to take a long time and a sustained effort to see through," said Jack Jennings, the president and chief executive of the Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

Georgia plans to finish its review of the common standards by spring, spend the 2011-12 school year training teachers on the new benchmarks, and begin using the standards in public school classrooms in fall 2012. New standardized assessments associated with the standards will be field-tested in 2013-14 and replace the current tests in English and math the following year, said Pam Smith, the state's director of academic standards, in response to e-mailed questions by The Augusta Chronicle .

That is about the same timeline South Carolina is working under: full implementation by 2014-15, according to that state Department of Education's e-mailed response to questions by The Chronicle .

Officials from both states said the common standards' rigor, and their wide acceptance across the country, were the most important reasons for choosing to adopt the new benchmarks last summer.

"Our agency's content-area review groups found consistent evidence that the (common standards) meet or exceed the rigor of South Carolina's current (English language arts) and math standards," the education department said.

Smith, of the Georgia Department of Education, said: "Common standards will help ensure that our students are globally competitive and will help prepare students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in education and training after high school.

Expectations will be consistent for all states and not dependent on a student's ZIP code."

Other states expressed similar reasons for adopting the common standards, the Center on Education Policy reported.

The report, States' Progress and Challenges in Implementing Common Core Standards , also found that a number of states do not have plans to make sure the new K-12 standards are aligned with colleges' undergraduate admission requirements or with first-year college curriculum.

"Supporters hope that the common core standards will encourage a seamless system of education from elementary school through college," Jennings said. "This is far from being realized."

More online

- Read the Center on Education Policy's report on Common Core State Standards' implementation at www.cep-dc.org.

- Read the common core standards at www.corestandards.org.

- Read the Georgia Performance Standards at https://www.georgiastandards.org.

- Read South Carolina's academic standards at http://ed.sc.gov/agency/Standards-and-Learning/Academic-Standards/old/cso.

- Read the full responses to The Augusta Chronicle's questions on common standards by Georgia and South Carolina's education departments at augustachronicle.com.

What's the difference?

Pam Smith, Georgia's director of academic standards, said the Georgia Performance Standards are "closely aligned to the Common Core State Standards, even though some standards will move to another grade level."

In South Carolina, there will be more of a change when the new benchmarks are fully implemented.

"In English language arts, the CCSS establish a 'staircase' of increasing complexity in what students must be able to read to that all students are ready for the demands of college- and career-level reading no later than the end of high school," the state Department of Education said in an e-mailed response to questions from The Augusta Chronicle. "The CCSS are more detailed in phonics than the current standards. More emphasis is placed on the ability to write logical arguments based on substantive claims, sound reasoning, and relevant evidence. ...

"In mathematics, the CCSS place greater emphasis on operations with fractions and decimals in grades three through five (foundational math) than did the current math standards. ... Middle school and high school standards call on students to practice applying mathematical ways of thinking to real-world issues and challenges; they prepare students to think and reason mathematically."

-- Jason Wermers, staff writer

Full response, Georgia Department of Education

Response from Pam Smith, director of academic standards, Georgia Department of Education:

1. What was the most important factor in Georgia’s decision to adopt the Common Core State Standards?

Georgia's previous work and implementation of the Georgia Performance Standards ensures a smooth transition to the Common Core. The evidence and research-based Common Core State Standards are anchored in college- and career-readiness and internationally benchmarked. Common standards will help ensure that our students are globally competitive and will help prepare students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in education and training after high school. Expectations will be consistent for all states and not dependent on a student’s zip code. The standards create a foundation to work collaboratively across states, pooling resources and expertise, to create curricular tools, professional development, common assessments, and other materials.

2. Please highlight some major differences between the common standards and the GPS.

GPS is closely aligned to the Common Core State Standards even though some standards will move to another grade level. Will any current GPS standards be incorporated into the common standards in English language arts and/or math? If so, which ones? This decision will be forthcoming following English language arts and mathematics committee work slated to be completed in the middle of March 2011.

3. How long do you think it will take for the core standards to be implemented, and why?

See the timeline below.

What are some major steps you will have to take for implementation to occur?

Professional learning and information sessions will be provided for teachers, administrators, instructional leaders, support staff, etc.

Updated 12/7/2010: ELA and Mathematics CCGPS Timeline

January/February 2011 - ELA and Math Precision Review
March 2011 - Final CCGPS for ELA and Math
March 24, 2011 - RESA Information Session Facilitated by GaDOE
Spring/Summer 2011 - RESA ELA and Math Leaders to Facilitate District and School-level Administrator Information Sessions Spring/Summer 2011 - Resource Development
Fall 2011- Summer 2012 - Teacher Information Sessions
2012-2013 - Year 1 Implementation/Transition
2013-2014 - Year 2 Implementation; Field Test
2014-2015 - Year 3 Implementation and Common Assessment

4. Will you work to coordinate the core standards with first-year state college curriculum or with state college admissions standards?

During the adoption process, the University System of Georgia and Technical College System of Georgia supported the adoption of the Common Core GPS. How? The University System of Georgia and Technical College System of Georgia currently serve as members of the advisory committee.

5. Will teacher evaluation systems be affected by the core standards?

The evaluation system is not dependent so much on what is taught but on how it is taught.

6. What role will Race to the Top funding play in Georgia’s implementation of the core standards?

Race to the Top funds will support additional staff for resource development and professional learning.

Full response, South Carolina Department of Education

What was the most important factor in South Carolina's decision to adopt the Common Core State Standards?

The primary motivation for adopting the Common Core Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics is that they’re an improvement over what we have now. That determination was made after extensive review by the Education Department, and it was approved by the Education Oversight Committee. The idea that the Common Core Standards were stronger was reinforced by a state-by-state analysis performed by the Fordham Foundation. In addition, adopting the new standards allows comparisons with other states.

Please highlight some major differences between the common standards and the current state standards.

Our agency’s content-area review groups found consistent evidence that the CCSS meet or exceed the rigor of South Carolina’s current ELA and math standards.

But there are some differences: In English Language Arts, the CCSS establish a “staircase” of increasing complexity in what students must be able to read so that all students are ready for the demands of college- and career-level reading no later than the end of high school. The CCSS are more detailed in phonics than the current standards. More emphasis is placed on the ability to write logical arguments based on substantive claims, sound reasoning, and relevant evidence. Opinion writing—a basic form of argument—extends down into the earliest grades. More emphasis is placed on student research—short, focused projects (such as those commonly required in the workplace) and longer-term, in-depth research.

Through reading a diverse array of classic and contemporary literature as well as challenging informational texts in a range of subjects, students are expected to build knowledge, gain insights, explore possibilities, and broaden their perspectives. Media and technology are integrated throughout the ELA standards.

In Mathematics, the CCSS place greater emphasis on operations with fractions and decimals in grades three through five (foundational math) than did the current math standards. The CCSS standards lay a solid foundation in whole numbers, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, and decimals. Students are expected to these use the foundational elements to learn and apply more demanding math concepts and procedures. Middle school and high school standards call on students to practice applying mathematical ways of thinking to real-world issues and challenges; they prepare students to think and reason mathematically. The math CCSS standards set a rigorous definition of college and career readiness, not by piling topic upon topic, but by demanding that students develop a depth of understanding and ability to apply mathematics to new situations.

Will any current S.C. standards be incorporated into the common standards? If so, which ones?

We don’t know yet which current standards might be incorporated into the common standards. It’s worth nothing, though, the an overall content alignment of 97 percent exists between the between the CCSS and current standards. Most of the content included in our state standards is presented in some form, and in some cases at different grade levels, in the CCSS. How long do you think it will take for the core standards to be implemented, and why? South Carolina will fully implement the new standards 2014-15 school year. Time is required to introduce them to various stakeholder groups and get their feedback.

Then, as you might imagine, there is considerable communication and teacher training involved. South Carolina’s Transition Team will include teachers, principals, superintendents, parents, other educators, and representatives from educational organizations, business and community, and postsecondary education representing both two- and four-year institutions. We’ve got lots of additional details if you need them.

Current year Timeline 2010

October Solicit recommendations for the Strategic Implementation Panel and the Content Area Work Groups
November Select panel members for the Strategic Implementation Panel and the Content Area Work Groups
2011
January Convene the Strategic Implementation Panel and the Content Area Work Groups
February Districts select CCSS Implementation Teams and sign assurance letters
March Conduct Awareness Sessions to be held regionally
February - May Continue the alignment and development of resources to support the understanding and implementation of the CCSS
Summer Provide Professional Development for District Teams

Will you work to coordinate the core standards with first-year college curriculum or with college admissions standards? How?

Education, business, and state leaders’ organizations, including Achieve, Inc, ACT, the College Board, the National Association of State Boards of Education, the Alliance for Excellent Education, the Hunt Institute, the National Parent Teacher Association, the State Higher Education Executive Officers, the American Association of School Administrators, and the Business Roundtable were involved in the development of the CCSS. Higher education representatives will be involved in working teams and the implementation panels established for transition to the CCSS.

Will teacher evaluation systems be affected by the core standards? If so, how? If not, why not?

Yes, educator evaluation systems will be aligned with the CCSS standards. This year, as part of a broader effort to refine and improve educator evaluation systems, we will analyze specific skills and knowledge required to successfully teach the new and ensure that those skills are embedded in the Assisting, Developing, and Evaluating Professional Teaching (ADEPT) system that we use to evaluate teachers.

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