Bradley County Education committee members voiced opinions on Common Core State Standards during a meeting Monday.
In the Commission work session that followed, education chair J. Adam Lowe placed on the voting agenda for the next voting session the committee’s request the Bradley County Board of Education develop an official opinion of the standards and report it to the Commission.
The Bradley County Commission is considering sending a resolution regarding Common Core to the Tennessee General Assembly as it considers the standards. Committee hearings on the merits of the standards have already been held.
“There is active legislation in Nashville to address this,” Lowe said.
Committee members Jeff Yarber, Jeff Morelock and Connie Wilson said they would like to see the state keep some aspects of Common Core, but not the entire package.
“The step of Common Core is a step in the wrong direction for education,” Lowe said.
Yarber suggested keeping some components while having local school boards submit ideas to the state of Tennessee to develop standards.
“Under no Child Left Behind is the basic standards, the basic skills; with this move it’s moving to ... being prepared for workplace, for college,” said committee member Bill Winters,.
Wilson asked if Bradley County Schools Director Johnny McDaniel had voiced an opinion on the standards as Cleveland City Schools Director Martin Ringstaff had.
Lowe said he received some information from McDaniel’s office about teachers being in favor of Common Core.
Lowe said a national survey used in support of saying teachers are in favor of the new standards actually submitted questions to respondents about increasing the requirements of individual subjects, rather than specific questions about Common Core.
Commissioner Terry Caywood said the standards place more stress on teachers, and classrooms could change for the worse as a result. He said he supports local teachers and is concerned about the effects switching to the new standards are having on teachers and students.
Committee members expressed concern the standards are limiting teacher creativity by dictating how teachers teach.
Lowe said many of the concerns with the standards are in science and social studies.
“There is some revisionist history,” Lowe said.
Books and other curriculum chosen to align with Common Core are adopted at the discretion of local school boards.
While initial Race to the Top applicants were not forced to accept Common Core, developing more challenging standards for students was encouraged. Tennessee received a waiver for meeting No Child Left behind requirements on the grounds that it had more challenging standards.
Lowe said RTTT did not require Common Core be adopted. He said these are the standards the state chose. However, he asserted, now the state has been granted a waiver to NCLB because of Common Core standards, changing the standards could have negative affects.
The committee is also recommending the Commission send a resolution to the state legislature “in opposition to tying TVAAS (Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System) scores to teacher licensure.”
During committee discussions on Common Core, Winters said it was not Common Core that teachers he had spoken with were anxious about. He said it was the unrelated educational reforms affecting tenure, pay and licensure.
TVAAS is a system used in Tennessee to measure student growth based on test scores and last year’s achievement.