Tennessee: Most Common Core Standards Are Keepers

Tennessee: Most Common Core Standards Are Keepers

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This story is written by Grace Tatter (gtatter@chalkbeat.org) and was originally posted on Chalkbeat. It is reproduced here with permission.

Tennessee’s six-month-long public review of the Common Core State Standards garnered more than 131,000 reviews of various academic benchmarks – with more than half favoring K-12 standards currently in place, according to numbers released last month by the State Board of Education.

In all, 2,262 Tennesseans participated in the online review conducted between Nov. 6 and April 30. Participants were given the opportunity to say “keep it,” “remove it,” or “replace it” as they reviewed up to 2,000 standards for math and English. If they selected to remove or replace a standard, they had to explain why in a comment.

When the review was complete, the state website had logged 131,424 reviews and 20,344 comments, with 73,000 of the reviews opting to “keep it.”

Although the review was open to any Tennessee resident, the vast majority of participants – 1,164 in all – were teachers. Next were parents (320), K-12 administrators (141), and other community members (94). Fifteen K-12 students participated, as did seven elected officials.

Gov. Bill Haslam ordered the review last October in response to a growing backlash against the standards due to charges of federal overreach, among other things, even though the initiative was launched in 2009 by state leaders across the nation and approved in Tennessee in 2010 by the State Board of Education. In April, the legislature, which had considered several proposals to scrap the standards altogether, approved a compromise bill to codify Haslam’s review process and added its own layer of legislative review. The governor signed the bill on May 11.

The next step is for the State Board of Education and the Southern Regional Education Board, a private firm helping to manage the review, to prepare data reports based on the public review. Those reports will go to committees of educators appointed by Haslam as part of the review process and the two organizations are scheduled to convene June 3 for the first time.

Sara Heyburn, director of the State Board of Education, said every review and comment is valued in the process. “We’re not trying to put a lens or filter on the comments in any way,” she said in May.

In a telephone news conference later that same day, Haslam said he is confident about the review process. “All of the discussion about Common Core and some of the political issues around that–we were determined to not have that distract us from having great standards in Tennessee,” he said. “What we said is these standards have been in place for four years. We’ve had teachers teaching them for four years. We’ve gained a lot of understanding and experience. Let’s go now and look and review and make certain that we come out with even better standards.”

Chalkbeat Tennessee is a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools.