Tennessee Opens Academic Standards for Parent, Public Review

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Tennessee has made available to every citizen of the state a website that allows its visitors to review and comment on the state’s current K-12 academic standards.

Gov. Bill Haslam, who was elected to a second term last Tuesday, unveiled the site last week. It specifies the goals for each grade that define what students are expected to learn and be able to perform by the end of of a grade or course.

The list is not short. There are at least 1,100 standards for English language arts (ELA) and more than 900 for mathematics in the state of Tennessee. Now, anyone in the state can access the standards and provide feedback, reports The Leaf Chronicle.

“Tennessee is making historic progress in academic achievement, and this discussion is about having the best possible standards as we continue that important work,” Haslam said. “This valuable tool allows Tennesseans to contribute feedback on the current standards, adding their voice directly to the review process to improve student achievement.”

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and House Speaker Beth Harwell participated in an education summit in September, after which Ramsey announced a public review process, developed along with the State Board of Education, to gather input from educators and the public across the state. Even though Tennessee normally reviews its standards every six years, these standards, only in place for the past four years, will be reviewed in the spring. The governor believed that this was an appropriate time for review, since there has been so much conversation about standards both on the state and the national levels.

The website data will be reviewed and analyzed by a third party and independent source, the Southern Regional Education Board. Their findings will be reviewed and analyzed by two committees and six advisory teams of professional Tennessee educators. Then the proposals for change will be presented to the State Board of Education. The Tennessee General Assembly will have their chance to weigh in on the state’s standards during the upcoming session, beginning in January.

Butch Campbell, Murfreesboro City Board of Education chairman, said that during his time as an educator, standards had been reviewed near the end of the process, according to Daily News Journal’s Mealand Ragland-Hudgins.

“I don’t know that it’s ever been done statewide on the front end,” said Campbell, who retired as principal of Rutherford County’s Walter Hill School following a 41-year career in education. “But from what I’ve heard, this is going to be a fairly lengthy process.

Campbell does not believe that a test will be in place by the 2015-2016 school year.

The three advisory teams will consist of one for K-5, one for 6-8, and one for 9-12. These teams will be made up of K-12 educators and a representative from a state higher education institution. Earlier this year, Lisa Moore, a county school board member, led an anti-Common Core campaign, and states that people who are still concerned about the standards continue to contact her.

“What I’m hearing from people is the way (the review process) has been presented is that it’s an appeasement, that it’s not going to change anything, or a ‘we’ll believe it when we see it’ kind of thing,” Moore said. “I don’t think people are opposed to standards as long as they’re good ones.”