State and local school officials, as well as two local principals, gave board members an update on Harford County's nearly two-year process of adopting Common Core State Standards.
School systems across the country are adopting CCSS; the Maryland State Board of Education voted in 2010 to adopt the standards, and they will be implemented statewide during the 2013-2014 school year.
"The writers, the researchers pride themselves on the fact that the standards are clearer," said Judy Jenkins, director of curriculum for the Maryland State Department of Education.
The CCSS is designed to ensure students are "college and career-ready" in reading, English, language arts and mathematics.
Tammy Bosley, principal of Forest Hill Elementary School, said teachers and staff at her school spent a year in professional development learning how best to implement CCSS in the school.
She said the implementation is based around the concept of "rigor."
"What it really comes down to is teacher-student behaviors you see in a classroom," Bosley explained.
Tony Bess, principal of Havre de Grace Middle School, said teachers and staff at his school have been working with colleagues at Aberdeen Middle School and working to "bring parents into the loop" as they prepare to implement Common Core.
School board Member Robert Frisch expressed concerns the instruction could be "a mile wide and an inch deep," and said he has seen students at the high school level without basic knowledge of concepts such as the names of states.
"We have seen these issues in education, and the pendulum swinging from one side to the other," he said.
The presenters responded, saying that students will be required to "be fluent" in basic concepts such as their multiplication tables.
School board Chairman Francis "Rick" Grambo said he is concerned that both under and over-achieving students could be left behind by Common Core.
"The reality will be, there are going to be kids that won't meet that [standard]," he said. "How are we going to address that?"
Susan Brown, coordinator of intervention for Harford County Public Schools, said local schools are already set up to serve under and over-achieving students.
"It should be a natural transition when we move to Common Core," she said.