Tennessee education leaders are preparing to tweak the academic standards for the state’s students, even as they finish implementing the latest set of changes.
A program called the Tennessee Diploma Project went into effect over the last school year. It requires students to take more math and science than before. It also makes state achievement tests tougher, and raises the scores students must earn in order to be considered proficient.
At the same time, there’s been a national movement to set the academic bar at essentially the same level everywhere. A consortium of 48 states, including Tennessee, recently crafted what’s called “Common Core Standards.” The state board of education voted last week to adopt them here.
Gary Nixon is the board’s Executive Director. He says there are some differences between Common Core and Tennessee Diploma Project standards, but he says they’re not dramatic.
“I don’t think we’re gonna see a massive shift in what we’re doing. We’ll maybe see a little shift here, a little shift there, but not very much. We’re already there. We were in good shape to start with.”
Nixon says the biggest change is happening now. Results from the first round of tests under Tennessee Diploma Project are due back in the coming months. Student scores are expected to drop sharply.
To mitigate the effect on schools trying to meet No Child Left Behind standards, the state is asking for federal approval of a plan that would initially lower the number of students who need to pass.