Troup County teachers will implement changes in curriculum this year along with teachers across the state as part of Georgia’s move to the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards, but local educators have been preparing for the change.
The move is part of the Common Core State Standards adopted by 46 states. The reason behind the CCSS is to give every state a consistent set of standards. The common core also is guided to better prepare students for life after school.
“One of the major differences is when curriculum was developed in the past, it started at the kindergarten level and worked up, but with common core curriculum, you start with college and career readiness, and start from the top and work your way down,” said academic coach Gina Turner, who helped work with teachers to prepare for the change. “So the idea is that if we want students, once they leave high school, to be thinkers and more globally ready to reach the world, then we need to take that and back that down all the way to kindergarten.”
Karen Cagle, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, said that the curriculum department spent the last year preparing for the change. The school system brought in Beverly Nichols, a nationally known math math curriculum auditor and consultant, to help work with teachers on revamping mathematics lessons. Nichols also helped apply new strategies in other areas of curriculum as well, Cagle said.
Academic coaches worked to ensure that teachers had the materials and resources they would need to apply the changes with the common core standards.
“I think the fact that teachers were involved with the process during the last year, as we met with them during the year, we had that kind of backup and buy in from teachers in the system,” academic coach Polly Pitts said. “They’ve not been kept in the dark with common core, we’ve been talking about it for more than a year.”
Cagle said the school system saw a drop in test scores when it changed from Quality Core Curriculum to the GPS standards several years ago, but the system this time is better prepared for the changes ahead. However, how the standards and tests will align is yet to be seen, Turner said.
“When we give the tests the first time, it will be more clear for everybody,” she said. “I’m not even sure the powers that be know what the test is. It’s hard when the only thing can do is give the standards and implement with the resources aligned to the standards.”
The academic coaches felt that the curriculum will better prepare students for implementing what they learn in school.
“Speaking for math,” said academic coach Katie Brown. “We’re going to produce a lot of thinkers, problem solvers, more number sense – less just procedural addition, and more ‘how many ways can we find the answer to an addition problem?’”
Pitts said the curriculum change will best be seen in how it benefits students in the future.
“I think we are going to see the benefits of what we’re doing in years to come,” she said. “We’ve talked about rigor and depth of knowledge students need for core curriculum, but it’s something that’s going to build from elementary and middle to high schools in years to come. That’s where we’ll see its true success.”
Some of the main changes to curriculum this year under the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards are:
•Third graders will learn how to multiply and divide large numbers. They also will learn the function of adverbs, which was previously taught in fourth and fifth grade.
•Fourth graders will tackle adding and subtracting fractions, which was not taught until fifth grade under the former curriculum.
•Eighth graders will be taught the Pythagorean Theorem, rather than learning the concept in ninth grade.
•Third graders will be taught pronoun-antecedent agreement, which was previously taught in seventh grade.
For more information on the new curriculum, go to www.gadoe.org/Curriculum-Instruction-and-Assessment/Curriculum-and-Instruction/Pages/CCGPS.aspx