Tennessee steps away from Common Core for new Testing Standards

Though it lasted for a good few years, the Common Core in Tennessee, adopted back in 2010, was officially called into question in 2015. While it was a promising beginning with a lot of support from the state itself, it eventually ran into issues when the Bradley County Commission continued to back bills that would repeal the Core altogether.


Review and Replace

Early 2015 brought about the death of the Core as Governor Bill Haslam quietly signed a bill to both review and replace the standards. This measure required the creation of two committees comprised of Tennessee educators that would review the current Core and then suggest new standards based on areas they found too challenging or too easy.

However, many still wonder if this is actually a step away from the standards or a way to rebrand them in an attempt to appease dissenters. In fact, many states have claimed to dump them only to bestow upon them a new moniker. Either way, many outside parties are stumped by Tennessee’s sudden change of heart. The Core was adopted by a governor and education commissioner that saw it as a wonderful addition to the state only to be handed down to leaders that had quite the opposite opinion.

At the start of this year, the revisions were shared with the public. Along with a name change, the new standards ranged from simple word changes to massive overhauls in areas teachers felt students would need more time, such as Algebra II. Beyond academics, the rework sought to streamline the standards, making them easier for teachers to understand and implement. As a reward, the school system may receive $3.5 million in funding, though this is still up for discussion.


A New Test

Every new standard must also come with a new test. For this, Tennessee developed the TNReady Assessment in lieu of a Common Core option. According to those in charge, this test was created in such a way that it can adapt and grow with its students and standards. For hopefuls, this statewide exam will do a better job assessing how well students are prepared to succeed once they leave school, a concern that brought about the creation of the Common Core in the first place.

Unfortunately, this, too, has fallen under scrutiny by the teacher’s themselves. Because creators wanted to make a test that couldn’t be “gamed”, they made sure it was mostly rote memorization. While this works for certain concepts, educators are upset at the test’s lack of depth. Instead of getting students to use language or math to show that they truly understand the concept, it asks them to plug numbers into a formula.

Tennessee’s Common Core is still somewhat alive in the hearts of the educators but is slowly facing defeat at the hands of the lawmakers. Luckily, at least, Tennessee created and implemented a plan to change the Core instead of dropping them like a few other states.