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Arts, PE revamped by Georgia education board
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Spout Springs School of Enrichment physical education teacher Tom Adam helps students get jump ropes in P.E. class at the school in August 2015. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield said that even during the Great Recession, funding new arts classes and developing award-winning wellness programs in physical education courses remained a priority.

“Regarding the arts, it is a cornerstone of who we are and often best fits the passion of a significant portion of our student body,” Schofield said.

Now, the state is working to catch up with growing needs in these areas of study.

Last month, the Georgia Board of Education revised curriculum and academic benchmarks for each course after receiving feedback from educators, business and community leaders, parents, students and advocates.

It’s been a quarter-century since the state revamped some of its fine arts curriculum in public schools, while physical education standards were last updated in 2009.

“The updated, high-quality standards approved in the areas of fine arts and physical education are great examples of the direction we’re moving in here in Georgia,” state School Superintendent Richard Woods said in press release. “We’re prioritizing areas of the curriculum that haven’t been updated, in some cases, for decades, and expanding opportunities that support the whole child.”

The revision to fine arts standards, for example, includes dance, theater, music and media, and was based on a formal review that took place late last year. It has been endorsed by the Georgia Council for the Arts, the Alliance Theatre and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

“The updated standards incorporate much needed revisions to account for changes in technology and methodology,” reads a letter from Georgia Council for the Arts Executive Director Karen Paty and Arts Education Manager Allen Bell. “The revised standards also allow for increased flexibility, while providing general guidance and a broad framework for local education officials to build a more detailed, rigorous and meaningful curriculum for their students.”

The board also approved revised standards for K-12 physical education classes that is endorsed by the Georgia Department of Public Health and Georgia Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

“It is especially encouraging that a number of organizations have endorsed the standards … ensuring that all of our work is aligned with expectations outside of education,” Gainesville City School System Deputy Superintendent Sarah Bell said. “Our teachers of fine arts and physical education play a critical role in the school experience of the student, and we are glad that the standards for these courses have received the attention that they deserve.”

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