This summer about 15 thousand math teachers and school principals in Tennessee will all learn to give the same lessons in the classroom. It’s part of a push toward ‘Common Core’ standards, adopted in 45 states to get schools teaching the same material.
Officials say not even one in five high-school seniors in Tennessee is ready for college. In particular, Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman says many need help with math. Huffman says a main idea with Common Core is to narrow the focus of what’s being taught, so students understand it, rather than just pass tests and move on.
“So less multiple-choice ‘Can you simply multiply 6 times 6?’ – much more ‘Do you conceptually understand what “6 times 6” means? Do you understand how to apply it? Could you figure out when to apply it, when not to apply it?’ So it’s much more depth of understanding, higher critical thinking.”
The 15 thousand educators getting ready for this fall teach third- through eighth-grade math. A year from now Tennessee’s English classes will also begin phasing in Common Core, putting more emphasis on reading non-fiction. While states aren’t federally required to take part in the program, it’s key to getting a waiver from the unpopular No Child Left Behind law, like Tennessee did this spring.