By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Proponents of a new set of uniform benchmarks for math and reading say they’re needed to better prepare students for college and the workforce, but critics of the measures contend they don’t know enough about them and are concerned about the federal government’s involvement.
About 500 people registered to attend a panel discussion Tuesday night that highlighted concerns ranging from the cost to implement the common core state standards to how involved the federal government will be in developing them.
The standards, which 45 states and the District of Columbia are adopting, are described as a set of higher expectations in math and English that include more critical thinking and problem solving to help better prepare students for global competition.
Under the standards, new tests are expected to replace the current TCAP tests in math and English next year to better measure student learning.
From the Commercial Appeal:
Approval of revised standards for social studies in Tennessee would mean that all public school kindergartners would be required to know about Elvis. And David Crockett, Sequoyah, Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, Andrew Johnson, Alvin C. York and Wilma Rudolph.
They would have to explain why we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day and Thanksgiving.
High school students would have to wade into the “major ideas of philosophers and their effects on the democratic revolutions in England, the United States, France, and Latin America including but not limited to John Locke, Charles-Louis Montesquieu, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Simón Bolívar, Toussaint L’Ouverture, and Thomas Jefferson.”
Of course, there’s a lot to learn in between. The proposed revision, the work of a committee of educators led by Jared Myracle, supervisor of 9-12 instruction with the Gibson County Special School District, is highly prescriptive and sweeping in its detail.
The revision was posted Tuesday on the state Department of Education website (tn.gov/education/curriculum) and is scheduled for first reading by the state Board of Education April 19. Public comments will be taken through April 26 on a survey embedded in the Department of Education website (tn.gov/education/curriculum).
It’s part of a wider effort to standardize public school curriculums throughout the state that is most pronounced in the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in math and English language arts/literacy that Tennessee adopted in 2010 — joining with 45 states and the District of Columbia in a program designed to set clear expectations of what students should know in each grade and subject.
KINGSPORT, Tenn. (AP) — U.S. Rep. Phil Roe has a bad taste in his mouth from the new federal standards for meals served in public schools.
The Kingsport Times News (http://bit.ly/RPA4p9 ) reported Monday the Tennessee Republican from the 1st District said in a conference call Thursday with reporters that the revamped school meals are just “more overreach of government.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture changed the standards for meals served to 32 million kids across the nation to offer more fruits and vegetables, increase whole-grain foods, limit calories based on the age of children and reduce saturated fat, trans fats and sodium.
Roe said one school director in his district said the standards are too restrictive, and he has signed on as a co-sponsor for a bill that would repeal the calorie limits.
Acknowledging the “very real possibility” that many Tennessee schools cannot meet current federal “No Child Left Behind” standards, Gov. Bill Haslam said today that his administration may seek a waiver from federal officials.
Haslam said he is currently involved in “discussions on what those waivers might look like.” In an interview last week, he said he has worked with Sen. Lamar Alexander on the matter.
“So many schools are not going to meet the standards that something’s going to have to be done,” said Haslam.
President Obama has asked Congress to overhaul the law, but there has been no action. Haslam said in the earlier interview that things appear to be deadlocked in Washington.
Under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, enacted at the urging of former President George W. Bush, schools are measured by the progress students make on state tests. Those failing to show adequate progress for two consecutive years are designated as “failing,” and can ultimately lose federal funding.
Also, schools designated as failing must offer federally-approved after-school tutoring services and allow students to transfer to other schools while paying any costs involved.
Under NCLB, standards rise every three years. As now written, states have until 2014 to achieve 100 percent proficiency in all tested subject plus a 90 percent graduation rate.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has said he anticipates most schools nationwide will fail to meet those standards.
From Richard Locker:’
Tennessee legislators began the process today of raising the academic requirements to qualify for the state’s lottery funded Hope Scholarships, starting with the high school class of 2015.
Currently, students from graduate from high school with a final overall weighted grade-point average of at least 3.0 or attain an ACT score of at least 21 or an SAT score of at least 980 to qualify for the Hope Scholarships.
But the House Education Committee advanced a bill today to raise those minimum thresholds for eligibility, to deal with projected declines in the scholarship program reserve funds. The standards would not be altered for current high school students but the higher thresholds contained in the bill would be phased in over a two-year period, starting with the high school class of 2015 and concluding with the class of 2016.
· Students who graduate from high school between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2015, would have to have a GPA of at least 3.1 or an ACT of at least 22 or an SAT of at least 1030.
Students who graduate from high school after July 1, 2015, would have to have a high school GPA of at least 3.25 or an ACT of at least 23 or an SAT of at least 1070.
The bill (HB13) now goes to the House Finance Committee for review. The Senate version is awaiting review in the Senate Education Committee.
State Rep. Harry Brooks, R-Knoxville, said the bill is needed because the costs of the scholarships are now outstripping the share of Tennessee Lottery proceeds earmarked to them. But the scholarship program has a current reserve fund of $373 million, which is projected to dip to $213 million by June 30, 2015.
Brooks said his bill does not affect current high school students but puts students who enter 9th grade this fall, and their families, on notice that they’ll face higher standards to qualify for the scholarship.
Hope scholarships range from $2,000 per academic year at two-year colleges to $4,000 at four-year schools. The proposed changes would not affect the $1,000 per year supplemental awards available for higher-achieving high school graduates but would affect students who receive the $1,500-per year Aspire supplements that are based on income and the threshold academic standards above.
Reps. Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, and Jimmy Naifeh, D-Covington, opposed the bill. Fitzhugh, a banker and lawyer, said the reserve funds are ample to sustain the current scholarship levels for several years. Both West Tennessee lawmakers said more students in their districts would not qualify for the financial aid.
The bill’s “fiscal note,” an analysis of its financial impact, estimates that 1,079 students who would otherwise qualify would no longer qualify for Hope Scholarships in the first year the new standards are in effect, and nearly 3,000 the second year.