Originally created 09/10/04

Standards set reading focus



ATLANTA - New guidelines approved by the State Board of Education for teachers of the youngest pupils put the focus on added reading.

According to the Department of Education, the Georgia Performance Standards approved by the board Thursday - after months of delay - will bring a heavier emphasis on reading from the beginning of a pupil's school career and will give teachers a better feel for what their pupils will be expected to know.

Superintendent Kathy Cox said the standards, which will cover pupils in kindergarten through third grade, would be more "user-friendly" for classroom teachers than the old Quality Core Curriculum.

"It's organized around the way they're being trained to teach reading and writing right now," Ms. Cox said after the board's meeting.

Teachers are set to begin learning about the new standards this year, and pupils will see the guidelines put in place by next school year, according to the department's timeline.

English standards for other grades already had approval from the board, but the curriculum for kindergarten through third grade was held up for several months after copyright concerns torpedoed the department's earlier draft.

The first version was based on standards developed by a national organization, but Ms. Cox said the board pulled back after the organization said Georgia couldn't alter the new standards after it approved them.

Deborah White, the executive director of the Georgia Association of Curriculum and Instructional Supervisors, said her group was supportive of the efforts to reform the state's curriculum.

But she said the association was still waiting to see the state address the group's recommendation about making sure the standards in earlier grades line up with what pupils learn in later grades.

Reach Brandon Larrabee at (404) 681-1701 or brandon.larrabee@morris.com.