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Georgia Standards Revision May Add More Civics

Students in Georgia will likely see more civics instruction in their social studies classes in the next few years. Those classes also may include lessons on personal economics and community service.

Georgia recently became the latest state to begin revising its science and social studies standards, according to the Gainesville Times and it appears the state will likely take a page from the playbook of one of its own districts, Hall County, when it comes to the social studies revamp.

According to the Gainesville Times story, "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."

That district used those findings to refocus its local social studies standards.

I asked the Georgia Department of Education whether the state revisions will mirror Hall County's.

"We do plan on addressing some of those very issues to strengthen the standards," state education department of education spokesman Matt Cardoza told me in an email Friday.

It's not surprising. Civics education has been a hot topic lately. I recently wrote about the lackluster scores of the nation's 8th grade students in U.S. history, civics, and geography. Several states (though not Georgia) have adopted or are considering legislation to require that students pass a citizenship test to graduate.

Over the last few years, several states have revamped their social studies standards. Among them: Ohio, New York, and Oklahoma. California is working on revisions, too.

A common theme for many is to include more civics education.

According to the National Council for the Social Studies, there has been a recognition of civics' potential demise, and an effort to reverse the disappearance of social studies and civics from K-12, particularly from K-8 where the council says it has been severely marginalized.

Georgia last revised its social studies and science standards in 2004. The revision process is still in the early stages. The state is asking for teacher input on the currents standards—asking them what topics they think should be added or removed. The new standards would be posted for public comment in early 2016. No implementation date has been set.

As for the science standards, Georgia was a lead state in the development of the Next Generation Science Standards, but it hasn't adopted NGSS yet. The Georgia Science Teachers Association urges the state to make sure the revisions reflect Georgia's work on NGSS. Cardoza said it's too early to say whether that will be the case, but said "our superintendent has been very clear that Georgia will develop them, not someone else."

Georgia also revised its math and English standards earlier this year after criticism. It had adopted the Common Core State Standards for those subjects in in 2010. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that most of those changes were minor—mostly to clarify language and sequence.

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