Gwinnett’s AKS Curriculum…

  • Developed, Reviewed, and Approved by
    GCPS Educators and the Community

    Lately, there has been an increased interest in and questions raised about curriculum matters in schools, specifically about critical race theory or CRT. So, what is CRT? Is critical race theory a part of the curriculum for Gwinnett County Public Schools’ (GCPS) and is CRT taught in our schools?

    What is critical race theory?
    Critical race theory, also called CRT, is an academic concept that is more than 40 years old. The core idea is that race is a social construct, and that racism is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies. The basic tenets of critical race theory emerged out of a framework for legal analysis in the late 1970s and early 1980s created by legal scholars Derrick Bell, Kimberlé Crenshaw, and Richard Delgado, among others.

    According to an article by the Brookings Institute, “Simply put, critical race theory states that U.S. social institutions (e.g., the criminal justice system, education system, labor market, housing market, and healthcare system) are laced with racism embedded in laws, regulations, rules, and procedures that lead to differential outcomes by race.” 

    A good example is when, in the 1930s, government officials literally drew lines around areas deemed poor financial risks, often explicitly due to the racial composition of a neighborhood. Banks subsequently refused to offer mortgages to Black people in these “red-lined” areas.

    What is the school district’s curriculum?
    The school district’s Academic Knowledge and Skills (AKS) curriculum—developed and annually reviewed by our teachers and community—is a rigorous curriculum that prepares students for college and 21st century careers in a globally competitive future. The AKS includes all of the state’s standards, including the state-adopted Georgia Standards of Excellence (GSE) in the areas of language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, career and technical education, and fine arts for all grades (K–12). The AKS for each grade level (or subject area at the high school level) spells out the essential concepts which students are expected to know and skills they should acquire in that particular grade or subject. The AKS offers a solid base on which teachers build rich curricular experiences. Teachers use curriculum guides, technology, and other instructional materials to teach the AKS and to make sure every student is learning to his or her potential. Because the AKS details exactly what a student is expected to learn, teachers can tailor the classroom experience to meet individual needs. 

    Is CRT taught in Gwinnett County Public Schools?
    No. GCPS does not teach critical race theory. CRT is not part of the AKS curriculum nor is it included in the state’s curriculum standards.

    How does GCPS decide what my student is taught?
    The AKS curriculum was developed, and is annually revised, by our teachers, with input from our parents and community. Since 1996, teams of teachers have met each year to review the AKS for their grade level and/or subject area. The first teams reviewed the existing curriculum to propose what knowledge and skills were essential for each grade level—kindergarten through 12th grade—and for every course.  

    Teachers, parents, and community members throughout the district then evaluated the proposed AKS, providing feedback on what they believed to be the essential curriculum for all students. The final proposed revisions to the AKS were presented to the Gwinnett Educational Management System (GEMS) Oversight Committee, comprised of representatives from the community and school system, for validation.  

    This process is repeated each year to address any revisions or enhancements that teachers and/or the community believe are needed to improve our curriculum and to ensure alignment with changes at the state level. The GEMS Committee then recommends the validated revisions to the superintendent, who presents recommendations to the Board of Education for adoption and implementation in the subsequent school year. 

    With this process for curriculum development and improvement in place, parents can be assured that the curriculum their child is learning in a Gwinnett County classroom will be essential to his or her learning and embraced by our educators, parents, and the community. 

    How does GCPS decide what resources are purchased by the district and used in classrooms?
    The Instructional Resources and Support Office, in conjunction with each curriculum area office, facilitates the review, pilot, and adoption processes for new instructional materials in print and/or digital formats. Each curriculum area’s core resources are reviewed and adopted on a staggered cycle, approximately every eight years. Part of this process includes an annual public review each fall during which educators, parents, and community members are invited to review and comment on resources being considered for adoption.