According to Bonnie Cochran, executive director for elementary schools in Paulding County, the standards program was initiated by the National Governors Association as a way to set a common set of expectations.
Common Core Standards are not mandated nationally, but 48 states have adopted them at this point, according to Cochran.
“National standards would help us with state-to-state comparisons, and as each state developed, we could work together,” said Cochran. “It was optional and each state is allowed to make some modifications.”
The state Department of Education mandated all school systems adopt the standards. Cochran said Georgia added handwriting to the standards.
The standards will be implemented in all grades for English, language arts and kindergarten through ninth grade for math, with the standards added each year to the rest of high school grades for current ninth-graders.
While there are not currently any standards for science or history, there are literacy standards for the subjects that will be implemented for all grades.
These literacy standards include research skills, reading content and technical writing.
“As before the standards were integrated, these skills were implied,” said Cochran.
Associate Superintendent Brian Otott said teachers have already begun the process of training for Common Core Standards.
Cochran said she did not believe the integration of the standards would be a huge change for Paulding teachers or students, as they were previously following introduction of Georgia Performance Standards.
“Common Core is not radically different from the old standards,” she said. “The old way included statements of what students should know and be able to do in certain areas, while the Common Core Standards say kids should be able to apply their knowledge in certain areas.”
As of now, Cochran said there is not an assessment plan established for the new standards.
“Ultimately, the plan is we will have a consistent test or assessment measure, but we want to move away from the multiple choice tests into more writing-based assessments.”
While the standards were implemented to make the U.S. more globally competitive and give a more consistent state to state comparison, Cochran said education officials were still unsure about the effects of the new standards.
“From our perspective, we don’t know how these standards will operationalize. I think we will feel more free to innovate around those standards after we see an assessment or see it operationalized,” Cochran said.