Standards do not dictate curriculum. Although 46 states in America adopted the Common Core State Standards, decisions about curriculum and teaching methods have continued to be made at the local communities. In Tennessee, standards decisions are made at the state level, curriculum decisions are made by local districts and instructional decisions are made by local teachers and principals.
The Common Core State Standards have been written by teams of educators with input from representatives from higher education and the business community. Teachers and content-area experts helped draft the language with input gathered from other state standards and available resources as well as opportunities for public comment along the way.
The current Common Core State Standards initiative was launched by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers in 2008. In June 2009, Gov. Phil Bredesen and Education Commissioner Tim Webb joined the Common Core State Standards Initiative.
Why did Tennessee join? The Common Core State Standards are meant to “provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.” (http://www.corestandards.org)
The Common Core State Standards emphasize:
1. Basic skills in math, reading and writing (including math without calculators and a focus on basis reading skills in early grades); and
2. Critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
The Standards were written in coordination with the NGA and CCSSO.
In July 2009, NGA and CCSSO announced work groups and released a draft of the college and career ready standards for public comment for educators, administrators and community and parent organizations.
In September 2009, the Validation Committee was announced which consisted of 25 leading educators charged with providing independent, expert validations of the process.
In March 2010, the first public draft of the Common Core State Standards was released to the public.
In June 2010, the final version of the Common Core State Standards was released to the public.
Also in June 2010, the Validation Committee published its final report stating, “Unlike past standards setting efforts, the Common Core Standards are based on best practices in national and international education, as well as research and input from numerous sources.” (http://www.corestandards.org/assets/commoncorereport_6.10.pdf)
In Tennessee, the decision to adopt the Common Core State Standards was made by the governor and Tennessee Board of Education. On July 30, 2010, Common Core State Standards adoption was passed unanimously by the Tennessee Board of Education. School districts in Tennessee have phased in use of the Common Core State Standards for math and English language arts over the past two years. The Tennessee Department of Education has provided no-cost training to support teachers in deepening understanding of the expectations of the standards.
We will assess the standards by the use of the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness of College and Career.
In April 2013, 22 states, including Tennessee, have joined PARCC. An additional 24 states joined the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia. These two consortia make up the two major assessment groups that will assess the Common Core State Standards.
So, in summary, the state of Tennessee chose to adopt the Common Core State Standards. The new set of Standards is simply better for our students. They are focused on college and career readiness. They are created by educators for educational purposes. The standards are adopted by the state of Tennessee with the curriculum decisions made at the local level school systems and the instructional decisions being made by the local teacher and principals.
The state of Tennessee should not be happy with the standards we are replacing. The new Common Core Standards are application-based, technology-based and focus on higher rigor. Please support the Common Core State Standards in Tennessee. This will make Tennessee Schools better in the long run.
(Editor’s Note: This guest editorial has been written and contributed to the Cleveland Daily Banner by Dr. Martin Ringstaff, director of Cleveland City Schools.)