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Georgia science, social studies standards up for revision

State Board of Education using teacher input, surveys

POSTED: May 20, 2015 11:30 p.m.

To be literate in science and social studies, students need the most accurate, updated education possible.

Thus the State Board of Education is once again beginning a process of revising the Georgia Performance Standards.

Earlier this year, the board revised English language arts and mathematics standards. Now, it is updating standards for science and social studies.

The state board is asking for teacher input into the new revisions, and a survey was posted April 16 asking for teacher evaluations. It closes June 15, at which point input will be considered and the revision process will begin.

“The survey data will be analyzed and hopefully, by early 2016, we will be able to ask the board to post revised standards for 60 days of public comment,” said Matt Cardoza, director of communications for the Georgia Department of Education. “ ... Teacher training and resource development will be provided prior to implementation.”

Cardoza added a date of implementation of the new standards has not yet been set.

The revisions will be determined by a working committee representing Georgia public school teachers, post-secondary staff, parents and instructional leaders.

The teacher survey questions address each current standard and ask teachers to provide specific topics that need to be added or removed from the standard.

Currently, Georgia Performance Standards for social studies ask teachers to bridge the gap between past and current events, to assist students in historical inquiry and to engage them in questions of historical motives, according to the Georgia Department of Education.

Last September, a Hall County Schools committee on curriculum found social studies curriculum may be lacking in studies related to American citizenship, personal economics and community service.

“We believe there are too many social studies standards and that there is not enough focus on our own country and government,” Hall County Superintendent Will Schofield said previously. “Additionally, there is little or no focus on K-12 mastery of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.”

The county school system used the findings to provide further focus in its local social studies standards.
Statewide science standards are currently measured by tasks students should be able to perform by the end of the course, by samples of student work and by learning goals.

Diane Acker, biology, environmental science and forensic science teacher at North Hall High School, said she does not think the current standards are adequate.

“They do not address all of the content that needs to be taught to provide an adequate coverage of the subject, especially in biology,” Acker said. “They do not allow for the way an intentional teacher teaches her class. I find myself struggling to provide content in a way that addresses the standards so that my students will do well on standardized tests and providing rich, meaningful lessons that capture my students’ imaginations.”
Acker said the balance between providing an interesting lesson and preparing students for standardized tests is “a juggling act, but worth it.”

She added revisions to standards are always an adjustment, but they too are worth it.

“It takes work to revamp curriculum and lesson plans,” she said. “In the long run, whatever is best for our students must be done.”

Jeremy Peacock, president of the Georgia Science Teachers Association, voiced his support for the revisions to the standards in a release last week.

“We are in transition as we begin a process of upgrading our science standards to make them state of the art and, as a result, better position our future workforce for the 21st century jobs that will be afforded to them,”

Peacock said in the release. “... The Georgia Science Teachers Association believes the time has come for our science teachers, business leaders, and community members to revisit our science standards in a process designed to move toward a vision for science education that best serves our students and our state.”

For more information about Georgia Performance Standards, visit www.georgiastandards.org.

 



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