Standards

Audit Gives High Marks To Georgia Performance Standards

By Linda Jacobson — June 23, 2004 4 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The Georgia education department, led by Superintendent Kathy B. Cox, has the drive to make the state’s new performance standards a high-quality document that teachers will find useful and effective in their classrooms, concludes a new audit of the state curriculum.

The standards—which are still in the final stages of development—are rigorous and in line with national standards, the independent audit says. Unveiled last week, it reaches a dramatically different verdict from the previous review of the state standards.

Still, the audit says, some confusion remains over the purpose of the standards, and officials have set for themselves a too-ambitious timeline for training teachers.

“It is a huge project, it has accomplished much, and it will continue to accomplish still more,” the report says. “The final quality of the Georgia Performance Standards system will hinge in large part on the commitment of the state [school] board and the citizenry to provide the support, resources, time, and assistance needed to complete this highly ambitious, enormous, and important work.”

In fact, at the time the audit was conducted, the team found that the teacher-training schedule did not meet the standards set by the National Staff Development Council. The “rollout” plan did not allow enough time for teachers to actually change their behavior

The review was conducted in April by the Curriculum Management Center in Johnston, Iowa, an affiliate of Phi Delta Kappa International, a professional association for educators. The audit, headed by William Poston, a professor emeritus of education at Iowa State University in Ames, was commissioned by the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education, a business-led group focused on improving student performance in the state.

Even though revision of the standards is still taking place, and the state board is not expected to vote on pieces of the document until later this summer and fall, Stephen Dolinger, the president of the partnership, had called for the audit in order to make the final document even stronger.

“Overall, this report shows that we’re on the right track,” Mr. Dolinger said last week.

The challenge now, he added, is to find a balance between the need to give teachers ample time to absorb the new curriculum and the demands of lawmakers to improve test scores quickly.

Drafts of the curriculum—along with Ms. Cox herself—have attracted considerable attention this year because of a series of controversial proposals, including her recommendation to remove the word “evolution” from the science standards and her plan to move the study of the Civil War from the high school level to the middle grades. Ms. Cox, a teacher who was elected to the state chief’s post in 2002, later retreated from her position on the use of “evolution” and, by most accounts, has been open to constructive criticism. (“Ga. ‘Boss of Schools’ Weathers Setbacks,” May 12, 2004.)

‘Different Relationships’

PDK conducted its first audit of Georgia’s curriculum in 2001 when Linda C. Schrenko was the schools chief. Mr. Poston, who led that auditing team as well, found the document—called the Quality Core Curriculum—to be bulky, lacking rigor, and out of alignment with national standards.

The auditors also encountered a state education department in conflict, with frosty relationships between the superintendent, the state board of education, and the governor. Ms. Schrenko was in the midst of an unsuccessful campaign for the Republican nomination to run against then-Gov. Roy Barnes in the 2002 gubernatorial election. Following the audit, Ms. Schrenko authorized a revision process, but when she left office, most of that work ended.

This time, according to the new audit, there is a “remarkably different set of working relationships and governance spirit among parties found to be operating in discord three years ago.”

While Ms. Schrenko viewed the previous audit, in part, as a political attack against her, Ms. Cox, who is also a Republican, has welcomed the process. She said during an interview this spring that the external review was a critical part of redesigning the document.

Department officials say that partly in response to the auditors’ recommendations to slow down the implementation, they’ve already delayed the state board’s formal adoption of the standards to allow more time for public feedback and work on the standards, especially in social studies.

Stuart Bennett, the department’s chief deputy, added that even though the development process might seem hurried, the estimated time to phase in all the standards and assessments is seven years.

Kirk Englehardt, a department spokesman, added that the PDK audit is just one of three reviews by outside groups. “We’ll take it all and roll it all in,” he said.

The results of the audit come on the heels of an unexpected rise in Georgia’s student test scores, announced this month. More than 90 percent of 3rd graders passed the state reading test on the first try-an increase of 6 percentage points from 2002, when the test was last given. Achievement gains were also noted in other grades and subjects.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attend to the Whole Child: Non-Academic Factors within MTSS
Learn strategies for proactively identifying and addressing non-academic barriers to student success within an MTSS framework.
Content provided by Renaissance
Classroom Technology K-12 Essentials Forum How to Teach Digital & Media Literacy in the Age of AI
Join this free event to dig into crucial questions about how to help students build a foundation of digital literacy.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Standards Florida's New African American History Standards: What's Behind the Backlash
The state's new standards drew national criticism and leave teachers with questions.
9 min read
Florida Governor and Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference at the Celebrate Freedom Foundation Hangar in West Columbia, S.C. July 18, 2023. For DeSantis, Tuesday was supposed to mark a major moment to help reset his stagnant Republican presidential campaign. But yet again, the moment was overshadowed by Donald Trump. The former president was the overwhelming focus for much of the day as DeSantis spoke out at a press conference and sat for a highly anticipated interview designed to reassure anxious donors and primary voters that he's still well-positioned to defeat Trump.
Florida Governor and Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference in West Columbia, S.C., on July 18, 2023. Florida officials approved new African American history standards that drew national backlash, and which DeSantis defended.
Sean Rayford/AP
Standards Here’s What’s in Florida’s New African American History Standards
Standards were expanded in the younger grades, but critics question the framing of many of the new standards.
1 min read
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the historic Ritz Theatre in downtown Jacksonville, Fla., on July 21, 2023. Harris spoke out against the new standards adopted by the Florida State Board of Education in the teaching of Black history.
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the historic Ritz Theatre in downtown Jacksonville, Fla., on July 21, 2023. Harris spoke out against the new standards adopted by the Florida state board of education in the teaching of Black history.
Fran Ruchalski/The Florida Times-Union via AP
Standards Opinion How One State Found Common Ground to Produce New History Standards
A veteran board member discusses how the state school board pushed past partisanship to offer a richer, more inclusive history for students.
10 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Standards The Architects of the Standards Movement Say They Missed a Big Piece
Decisions about materials and methods can lead to big variances in the quality of instruction that children receive.
4 min read
Image of stairs on a blueprint, with a red flag at the top of the stairs.
Feodora Chiosea/iStock/Getty