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Guest Column

Adopting Common Core Standards makes business sense for Georgia

By Guest Columnist DANA RICKMAN, director of policy and research for the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education

Recently there has been no education topic more hotly debated than the Common Core State Standards.

For those of you new to this debate, the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards (CCGPS) are Georgia’s version of the national Common Core State Standards (CCSS). It is important to understand the purpose of the standards, why Georgia led the nation in adopting them and why they were created in the first place.

In 2006, it was evident that the United States was falling behind other countries in our ability to educate a competitive workforce for the global market. American 15-year-olds ranked 25th globally in math and 21st in science achievement on the most recent international assessments.  At the same time, the United States ranked among the highest in inequality, with the third largest gap in science scores between students from differing socio-economic groups.

It was also apparent that the nation was rapidly losing its historic edge in educational attainment. In 1995, America was tied for first in college and university graduation rates, but by 2006 we had dropped to 14th. That same year, we had the second-highest college dropout rate among 27 other first-world countries. Put simply, not only were our children not able to compete on a global level, more and more of them were not prepared for the rigor required for post-secondary instruction.

Dana Rickman

Dana Rickman

In response to this educational crisis, governors from across the country (30 of them Republican) called for common national standards that were internationally benchmarked in math and language arts for grades K-12 to ensure that all students – no matter what state they lived in – would be equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to be ready for college and career when they graduated high school.

As a result, in 2009 the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) created a state-led process to develop the CCSS. It is important to note that standards are not a curriculum, but rather a clear set of shared goals and expectations for what knowledge and skills are needed for our students to succeed.

The CCSS are the goals for what students should know and be able to do when they complete a grade level, and ultimately what they should know when they graduate high school. Standards do not dictate how teachers should teach and do not require any specific curriculum.

The standards themselves were heavily based on Georgia’s existing Georgia Performance Standards (GPS), which were adopted in 2004. According to independent research conducted by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, the GPS align with about 75 percent of the new common standards. The report acknowledges the strengths of the GPS and highlights the areas in both math and language arts where the new CCSS builds on and enhances what Georgia has already been doing.

Georgia was one of the first states in 2010 to formally adopt these new standards after a public comment period. Georgia’s then Gov. Sonny Perdue served as the NGA’s co-chairman of the initiative that created the standards.

At the time of their adoption, speaking at a national kick-off event held in June 2010 at Suwanee’s Peachtree Ridge High School, Perdue said it was time to take this bold step forward.

“Complacency can’t lead us into the doldrums, and our nation can’t afford to be second class in education,” Perdue stressed. “I see a direct link in education and economic development.  What are the opportunities and the rightful responsibilities of our states to get students, not at a ceiling, but at a floor of expectations?” 

Recently the Georgia Department of Education released the graduation rate for the 2011-2012 school year — 69.7 percent. That is a two percentage point increase over last year’s numbers.  While there is slow improvement, some employers and institutions of higher education now view a high school diploma with some skepticism.  Good grades on a high school transcript do not always translate to a mastery of content knowledge or the development of critical thinking skills.  Most colleges and universities require admissions exams to demonstrate college-readiness.  Even with these additional measures, many students enter college having to enroll in remedial classes.

Under the previous standards in Georgia, of the students who graduated (met all the required standards), nearly 50 percent were still not prepared for college within the University System of Georgia, and required remediation.  Of those – only about 20 percent will ever graduate college.  The remediation work alone costs the state more than $22 million – annually.

Georgia is predicted to add 1.5 million new jobs by 2020.  Of these new jobs, nearly 60 percent will require some sort of education beyond high school. Currently, only about 42 percent of Georgia’s adult population meets that requirement. The skill level of Georgia’s workforce does not currently meet the growing needs of a successful economic development plan. A strong educational system is a necessary component to support the state’s economic vision, and strong standards are the cornerstone of that system.

There is currently a movement within Georgia to pull out of the Common Core and return to our previous standards. Much of this is fueled by partisan rhetoric and misinformation. Ten years ago, Georgia was highly criticized not only for a lack of performance, but a lack of rigorous standards.  As a state, we addressed those issues with the implementation of the GPS.

Using the state’s old GPS standards as a basis, Georgia helped lead the way in the creation of the Common Core – which takes the GPS to the next level of student preparedness.  If we pull out now, Georgia will once again be criticized for a lack of commitment to our students and as not being serious about making sure our students are ready for college and career when they graduate high school.

From a business and economic development standpoint, our students will be viewed as not ready and less competitive than students from other states. Georgia cannot afford to put our head in the sand and pretend that other states (and nations) are not moving forward; otherwise our state (and our students) will be left behind.


  1. pedney June 10, 2013 4:49 pm

    I agree with your post. Georgia should continue with their bold actions. However, there is one area where we have failed miserably which effects all areas of education and that is the area of Health and Wellness. We are one of the national leaders in increasing obesity rates which also correlates to being one of the “unhealthiest” states. When will our educators, politicians and leaders recognize the desparate need of keeping physical activity and courses that teach how to achieve and maintain health and wellness in the curriculum. It’s not just “PE” anymore. It’s about quality of life and having the tools to make better choices for ourselves with regard to our own health. Math, science, language, history, etc. are all important but when I lose my health I’m not so certain of how these subjects are going to help me help myself. I want to avoid giving responsibility for my health and wellness to my doctors for as long as possible. That view might even help our country save money on healthcare! Who would’ve thought…?Report

  2. Liberty Lover June 12, 2013 4:15 pm

    This column covers pretty much all the talking points. There’s no evidence supporting any of them — especially that the untested, unpiloted Common Core standards “enhance” anything — but in true fidelity to the Common Core model, let’s not think too much about that. Let’s shackle ourselves to a set of standards that are (according to one of the lead drafters of the math standards) designed to prepare students only for a nonselective community college. If we find out the standards aren’t as fabulous as advertised, we can always call Bill Gates and ask permission to change them.Report

  3. TeacherMan June 12, 2013 4:24 pm

    Despite the fact that the federal government has no constitutional authority over education, the Race to the Top grant is essentially controlling how teachers teach math and English language arts. This not only hijacks the art of teaching  and takes the joy out of teaching, but the Common Core methodology denies students the basic knowledge that they need in subject matter. For example, teachers are told to evaluate students on how they are working through math problems rather than teaching the students how to perform those math problems. Students are told to “struggle their way through,” and teachers are told to  evaluate student performance on the process of their struggle versus their knowledge of the subject matter. Constructivism is not the only way to teach curriculum. Basic skills cannot be taught through discovery. In English language arts, the same process occurs there as well. For example, students are given a reading passage without any context. This learning process is backwards. The practice of what is called “close reading” may be properly applied in the reading of poetry, but not as an overall teaching method for English language arts. This would be akin to telling me, as a science teacher, that  I could only teach inductive reasoning skills and never teach deductive reasoning skills to my students. Students need basic content knowledge before they can properly use any critical thinking skills, and Common Core robs students of the foundational building blocks of that knowledge.
    §The collection of personal data on our students, starting in pre-school, extending through college, and into the workforce, is an invasion of their privacy, and requires teachers to become more focused on entering data than on teaching.  The Georgia Longitudinal Data System(GLDS) will house lesson plans that are “ready-made” for educators. This takes the creativity and diagnostic component away from the professional educator in the classroom and subjects student achievement data to other entities outside the state of Georgia. Furthermore, the GLDS also allows the tracking of teachers with the student from K-College. This creates some personnel and human resources violations among teachers. Teachers will be evaluated on a value-added measure which has been researched for decades and the research shows that the value added model is statistically flawed and not an accurate measure of the teaching profession. This is like saying that a medical doctor should be evaluated on the overall health of the patients they treat.  This model fails to take in many varieties and strengths of the educator.  What was found was that many teachers who scored low with the value-added model scored in the top percentile of alternative assessment criteria. The real danger, of course, is that the study was heralded by several media outlets and is being used by policymakers and school districts to push for a value-added teacher evaluation model. But using the Gates Foundation research as a basis to push for value-added teacher evaluation is a mistake. The Gates foundation gave millions of dollars to set up the GLDS system and also created the value added evaluation model for Race to The Top. Careful readers of the value-added evaluation system will be unaware of its lack of evidentiary value and conclusive results.
    §The computer-generated testing of PARCC will serve as a straightjacket for classroom instruction.  Teachers will continue to teach to the test in ways that will make No Child Left Behind look mild by comparison because now their evaluations will be tied to student performance on these tests.  Our schools will become mere testing factories, not places of academic achievement. Schools will be graded on the benchmarks of the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) and not on the actual academic progress of students.Report

    1. MovingVann June 14, 2013 11:23 am

      @TeacherMan WELL SAID!!! A great explanation. Thank you.Report

  4. NancyDavis1 June 12, 2013 4:45 pm

    I am a college graduate who cannot find a job.  By the time any of these standards can be implemented, in my opinion, many more “college educated” persons will have been left hung out to dry.  It seems to me that the “experts in education” are pushing awfully hard with this “better than great”, new, innovative teaching standard.  I was taught that if people kept telling you how it is a too good to be true experience in education for our students-it is probably a too good to be true education experience.  As an adult, I have adjusted to over 4 decades of innovative teaching and training techniques with places I chose to work.  I was not taught these things in pre, elementary, middle, high or college.  I was taught basic math, English, social studies, geography, history, home economics, sports, family, church, and interaction with others.  No two people are alike; they do not learn alike, think alike, solve problems alike or look at achievement alike.  How can an education system develop a common core that can ACCURATELY test and determine that someone is achieving better than someone else?  This system has flaws, mainly, student input, parent input, community input.  Teachers or the student environment cannot ALONE determine how a child will learn or achieve.  I pay taxes-NO ONE ASKED ME IF THIS IS HOW I WANT TO USE TAXES.  For all the money poured into previous “perfect solutions to improve students chances to succeed, we are still looking at decaying education in every state, not just GEORGIA.  Fix attitudes and involve communities, maybe students will see how learning can be beneficial.  Don’t offer PERFECT plans because perfect does not exist just like teaching all students the same common core won’t work if you close your mind to the child/children’s ability to learn.  Exam what is wrong now; don’t throw the students out with the dirty water!!!!!Report

  5. pwd105 June 12, 2013 5:15 pm

    All of these talking points that Common Core supporters continue to recite might sound great to someone who knows nothing about Common Core.  If you take the time to learn what it really is, however, you will see that it will be a catastrophe for our children’s education.  Even the nationally recognized math and English professors who were on the review committees for the Common Core Standards would not sign off on them because of their extreme limitations. 
    The misinformation is coming from the advocates of Common Core, not the experts who know exactly how it came about and what it will entail.  I urge conscientious parents and school board members to go to http://www.stopcommoncore.com/ because it will answer every question you might have.  It’s not propaganda; it is truth, and if we’re sincerely interested in our children’s education we will urge Governor Deal and our legislators to save our state from Common Core.  It is not too late.Report

    1. NancyDavis1 June 12, 2013 5:21 pm

      @pwd105 I totally agree.  Having many sources for PARENT & local SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS to investigate is critical.  We are talking about education.  Shouldn’t we educate ourselves before we change everything?  Our state legislators (made up of many LAWYERS) are quick to tell us, THEIR BOSSES, what we have to do.  I think they need to listen to what WE THE PEOPLE want to do, after all, we pay the bills.Report

  6. Rethel June 12, 2013 5:29 pm

    Common Core is not what I want to see my grandchildren tracked through.  This is an infringement of privacy and I do not trust the government intervention in our lives.  I have seen many students become successful in life, yet not be a brilliant classroom student.  My son received a GED and now has 2 Masters degrees f.rom a very prestigious college.  His B.S. is from UGA.  The tracking of students and the teaching methods employed are not good for the teachers or the students.  My offspring are not experiments for the government.  I have talked to many teachers and the moral of these teachers is mixed with both anger and disgust with Common Core .  My daughter-in-law is a primary teacher and was teaching in public school.  She has now chosen to home school because of the Common Core.Report

  7. Deeplyconcerned June 12, 2013 9:22 pm

    What is the matter with these people? It’s not bad enough that we have the NSA snooping on our lives, with the Common Core program, our children will become victims of the governments prying eyes also!!! Wake up Georgia!!! Is the Federal money really worth selling out your children and their futures???Report

  8. MovingVann June 12, 2013 10:05 pm

    When teaching nursing, I always teach to the test. Our graduates take a standardized national test to become registered. The stress of these tests is hard to take, on the teacher side as well as the student, but we are highly motivated adults. As a teacher of pediatric nursing I was dismayed by Bush’s No Child Left Behind and now Obama’s Common Core. Children need more individual attention than adults. They are not mature enough to handle the accompanying stress. Both of these programs are nothing more than Child Abuse by Federal Government.Report

  9. Haynes Parker June 12, 2013 10:14 pm

    We are now learning that the standards of Common Core are lower that GA has now. The former education dept. adopted this for GA without asking anyone except a few politicians. Several states have now pulled out and GA needs to pull out to right away. Call the Dept of Ed. in GA.Report

  10. Atlanta 912 June 12, 2013 10:56 pm

    It may seem to make good business sense-SHORT TERM-but Common Core is terrible for children and the parents and teachers who care about their kids’ education.   Education in GA has been in serious trouble for decades, given our consistently low national ranking, and Common Core will be nothing but a misguided band-aid to make it look like we’re ‘doing something.’  This is not the answer, and will negate the very beginnings of positive change that passing of the Charter School amendment could mean for GA kids.  We need innovation and an environment of freedom to teach in ways that will engage kids-NOT dictate what they are taught and how.  It’s time to get creative, not straight-jacketed by Common Core.Report

  11. grandmother of 9 June 13, 2013 1:04 pm

    I really wish our federal government would stay out of public education. Nothing good comes from Washington DC. No Child left behind is a joke . Race for the top???? Now Common Core !!. Whatever happened to good ole fashion teaching basic skills,such as reading writing and math? And let us remind parents how valuable PE can help coordination and reduce obesity.it seems to me that this program is “the latest fad to help children learn computer skills and how to take tests’. American History is not of any value. Basic civics is lost in the process. But are our children really LEARNING anything ? This is a local issue that should be addressed by the states or local school boards and parents. We need to eliminate the Department  of Education. NOW ! my grandchildren deserve better. America deserves better.Report

    1. Charity in Truth June 13, 2013 9:47 pm

      @grandmother of 9
      Thank you Grandmother of 9.
      Education needs to be at the most local level possible with
      parental control and voter accountability and without the federal
      government acting as the “enforcer” to bribe states into the
      “one-size-fits-all”  taxation without representation, intrusive
      data tracking, Common Core schemes. 
      Myths versus facts on  COMMON CORE:

  12. freckleface June 17, 2013 1:17 pm

    I guess I am the only parent in Georgia who wants my child to be able to compete on a national and international level.Report

  13. freckleface June 17, 2013 1:21 pm

    After reading the comments, I guess I am the only parent in Georgia who wants my child to be able to compete on a national and international level.Report

  14. Charity in Truth June 17, 2013 3:14 pm

    Wake up, Common Core all about control
    This is a complete takeover of your children and of
    their education. Teaching your children what they, the federal
    government, wants them to know and to learn.
    Control of all minds. This is the federal government taking over education through the back door.
    We need to reassert our constitutional local control over education. 
    Read more: 

  15. Charity in Truth June 17, 2013 3:55 pm

    Come hear a panel discussion that exposes the threat of the Common Core
    to Georgia’s educational sovereignty and why parents need to be concerned.
    Please come if you can to learn more on:
    June 21, 2013  Friday 7:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
    at Sonesta Gwinnett Place (formerly Marriott), 1775 Pleasant Hill Road,
    Duluth, Georgia 30096
    or on
    June 22, 2013 Saturday  9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
    Roswell Street Baptist Church, 774 Roswell Street, Marietta, GA 30060
    Concerned Women for America (CWA) of Georgia in partnership with the
    American Principles Project is  sponsoring this event.
    Registration information here:

  16. Ken1958 June 18, 2013 2:44 pm

    Common core is a mess and will distroy our eduication system . we need to do the oppisite . Turnthe schools over to the parents and local   system . The goverment has no place in eduication . it is against the constitution what they are trying to do , It is all abount the money and thehell with our kidsReport

  17. Jhope June 20, 2013 3:50 pm

    I am a retired educator, mother and grandmother. Common Core must be stopped. It is a train wreck in progress, an impending educational disaster for our children and financial ruin for an already downward spiraling, flailing economy. The developers of CCSS are The National Governors Association (NGA) and The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). It is richly funded through inBloom, the gracious monetary gift of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Does not this command your attention? We are at a crossroads of some “either – or” critical decisions, so well articulated by Dr. Christopher Tienken, editor of The Journal of Scholarship and Practice: “states rights vs federal bureaucracies, standardized education vs intellectual creativity and a pre-determined system vs a locally controlled flexible system that can adjust to the needs of a child”. You don’t like what we had before? It will look like a paradise compared to Common Core, if fully implemented in 2014. This curriculum, forced on our students and the tax payers, without having any say about it, is not, I repeat, is not the balm of all solutions. I believe, if fully implemented in 2014, it will take at least 3 generations to walk CC back and repair the damage. The Pierson Publishing Company is printing the text books, and they are buying up many of the smaller publishers. People and companies are feathering their nests with all the profits, at the expense of our children and already over- burdened taxpayers. Is the view more clearer for you now?
    Please read Dr. Tienken’s 12 paged Commentary in his article, Common Core: An Example of Data-less Decision Making” at http://www.aasa.org/uploadedfiles/publications/newsletters/jsp_winter2011.final.pdf.
    I would also highly recommend that you look over the many books and video presentations at TEDTALKS.COM featuring Sir Ken Robinson, world renowned orator and specialist in education and the arts. Please check out the following two links:
    http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_how_to_escape_education_s_death_valley.html and
    Your phone calls to our legislators can make a difference. Please call Gov. Nathan Deal (404-656-1776) and Dr. John Barge, State School Superintendent (404-656-2800). Hand-writtened notes asking them to STOP COMMON CORE would be a splendid gesture, too.
    The dark clouds are gathering , and the ANTI COMMON CORE MOVEMENT is swelling. Think of our children and future generations. Years from now, I do not want someone coming to me with the question, “Why didn’t you speak up and do your best?”. It is not too late.Report

  18. I hope August 28, 2013 10:50 pm

    It’s amazing how so many Georgians can drink the koolaid and be in denial.  Georgia is dismal in education.  Clearly local government and local school boards throughout GA are not competent enough to prepare our youth for our own state’s workforce, let alone a national or global workforce.  Georgians need to admit this indisputable fact and let go of local control that has failed the state for decades.  Instead, we need to get on board with the national agenda, adopt Common Core, and follow much more competent states, trying to mimic their education policies.  This is simple comparative advantage — let states that are better at making educational decisions (nearly all of the other 49) do it and follow them.  Allowing under-educated Georgians continue to control this is insane — it will only continue with the some embarrassing results.  The PARC test would match up Georgia students to students in many other states in an apples for apples comparison.  Our Govenror realized this would how behind Georgians are educationally and he would have no excuse.  So, instead of swallowing his pride and doing the right thing for our long term success, he pulled us out of the test so we can continue to hide behind the curtain.  This is not how a state will be successful.  Sadly, so many Georgians have received such poor education themselves, that don’t have the mental capacity to see that leaving the Common Core will be another blow to Georgian’s education and detrimental to chances of a prepared workforce.Report


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