CHARLESTON, W.Va. - What do children learn in school?
They learn math, of course, and reading and language arts, as well as science and social studies and a slew of softer subjects.
But beyond that, the answer is murkier. It's also evolving.
This year, West Virginia will continue to implement its version of the federal Common Core state education standards. Those standards were developed by groups of educators with support from the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers and the nonprofit group Achieve.
So far, 46 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the standards, though many have tweaked them to meet their state's needs. West Virginia's version is called the Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives. States are allowed to add up to 15 percent of their own material to the national standards.
The state Department of Education hopes to have those standards implemented by the 2014-15 school year. Adoption began with kindergarten in 2011; grades have been added each year since.
That means a major overhaul in the classroom for most teachers.
"It really is tremendous in some instances," said Karen Nowviskie, director of elementary schools for Putnam County.
"Some things that a teacher has taught for years they have to let go of now, and that's hard sometimes. Some things they just have to look at differently."
Nowviskie was at a two-day Common Core training session for Putnam County teachers at Buffalo High School. That training - and similar sessions being held across the state all summer - brought the county's teachers together to learn the differences between West Virginia's old standards and the Common Core standards.
Revisions to education standards mean teachers will need to make revisions to individual lesson plans as well as, in some cases, the overarching principles behind teaching certain skills.
So far, Common Core mainly affects reading, language arts and math. In reading, the new standards place an increased emphasis on primary source texts - instead of reading about the Magna Carta, children may read the actual document. In math, the new standards do more to specify what students should learn at each grade level so there is continuity across the board.
Those differences are not insignificant. Some education experts have debated whether the new standards are actually that different from the old ones, but an independent study found that the standards West Virginia developed in tandem with Common Core are much more rigorous.
"Despite a few bright spots, the lack of clarity and specificity . . . impacts not only the document's readability but also, ultimately, the content and rigor of the standards themselves," the study read.
That review, by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, rated West Virginia's old standards for reading and language arts with a grade of D. The new Common Core standards got a B-plus.
"West Virginia's standards are among the worst in the country," the report reads, saying that the new standards are "significantly superior to what the Mountain State has in place today."
The same review gave West Virginia's old math standards a B grade while the new standards got an A-minus.