State Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-west Cobb), chairman of the Senate Education and Youth Committee, said, “This is a clear indication that Georgia will maintain its constitutional sovereignty over its education system and will not cede that domain to federal intervention, which has been feared by many including me.”
Further action is needed, Tippins said, but should be taken one step at a time to avoid missteps.
Cobb school board member Kathleen Angelucci also praised the decision.
“I see this as a positive move into Common Core being eradicated, and let me tack on to that by saying it’s not the standards that are the problem, it’s all of those strings that come attached. That’s the problem,” Angelucci said.
One objection Angelucci said she has with Common Core is that it moves Algebra from eighth grade to ninth.
“I think that’s a problem. I really do,” she said.
“There are many parts of Common Core that many people see that aren’t rigorous, and there are other parts that are, but I think at the end of the day when you’re talking about standards, I think Georgia is beyond capable, we’re able to set rigorous standards that will serve the students in Georgia,” she said.
State Sen. Judson Hill (R-east Cobb), chairman of the Cobb Legislative Delegation, called Deal and Barge’s decision great news for students.
“We must ensure that our education standards in math, English, the sciences and reading are strengthened and improved beyond those recently created,” Hill said. “It will also be important for the Legislature to act to memorialize our governor’s wise decision. Today’s news is a good step for education and a giant leap of improvement for all students.”
Not everyone is pleased with the announcement, however.
“I’m deeply concerned,” said state Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan (D-Austell). “My prayer is that this has nothing to do with politics. I hope this has nothing to do with politics because Common Core, I think, is a critical step for us to take to ensure that students have a rigorous education, and so I’m deeply concerned about this decision and look forward to hearing from one or both of them as to their reasons.”
Funded by President Obama’s Race to the Top program, the testing group Georgia is withdrawing from is made up of a collection of states working together to develop a common set of K-12 assessments in English and math. The group, “creates high-quality assessments that measure the full range of the Common Core State Standards,” according to its website.
In a talk to the Cobb Republican Party a few months ago, Barge said the trouble is that what gets tested is what often gets taught in the classroom. Having a national test therefore makes it problematic if Georgia wants flexibility in the way it rolls out Common Core. Suppose the national test developed by a Washington think tank tests differently from the way Georgia opts to use the Common Core standards, Barge told the GOP members. The outcome is Georgia students won’t perform well on the assessments, he said.
Georgia was one of 22 states to join the testing consortium called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. And it isn’t alone in withdrawing from it. Barge said Oklahoma cut ties a few weeks ago, while Indiana approved a law removing that state from the testing consortium.
In place of the testing group, Barge said Georgia will work with educators across the state to create standardized tests aligned to Georgia’s current academic standards in mathematics and English language arts for elementary, middle and high school students.
Creating the tests in Georgia will ensure that the state maintains control over its academic standards and student testing, whereas a common assessment would have prevented the state from being able to adjust and rewrite Georgia’s standards when educators indicate revisions are needed to best serve students, Barge said.
While Georgia is withdrawing from the testing consortium, it will still use the Common Core State Standards, Barge said.
“The Common Core State Standards are the standards that we’ve all agreed the state will teach,” he said. “The state board adopted in 2010 the Common Core State Standards as Georgia’s standards. We’re withdrawing from the testing consortium.”
Fans of the testing consortium are already complaining about how Georgia will measure itself against other states by pulling out. But Barge said this is not a concern.
“There are off-the-shelf products out there,” he said. “Georgia used to give years ago the ITBS. I’m not saying that’s what we’re doing, but that’s certainly a type of off-the-shelf product that you could administer. ACT has a product that many states are using called Aspire. So there are a number of off-the- shelf products that are a possibility that would give you that comparability across states that folks are looking for.”