Lipscomb Academy Chief Advocates For Common Core, But Not At Her School

Dr. Candice McQueen was dean of Lipscomb's College of Education until she was recently named senior vice president overseeing Lipscomb Academy. Credit: Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce via Flickr

Dr. Candice McQueen was dean of Lipscomb’s College of Education until she was recently named senior vice president overseeing Lipscomb Academy. Credit: Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce via Flickr

One of Tennessee’s biggest cheerleaders for Common Core has not pushed to adopt the education standards in the private school she now leads.

On an almost weekly basis, Candice McQueen is called on by the state Department of Education to beat back criticism. Last week, it was an Associated Press panel. The week before that, she advocated for Common Core as SCORE released its annual report card. McQueen testified before the Senate Education Committee during a two day hearing on the standards.

She praises the rigor and the benefits to having Tennessee kids on the same page as students in 44 states. So when McQueen assumed a new role over Lipscomb’s private K-12 academy, parents were concerned Common Core would follow her to campus, according to an open letter sent to families.

“Because of my role as the dean of the university’s College of Education some of you have expressed concerns about my appointment and the direction Lipscomb Academy will take as it relates to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).”

McQueen wrote that she Common Core has not been adopted and that she has “not been in any formal discussions” about changing standards at the school, though she has asked faculty to familiarize themselves with the math and English standards.

And McQueen doesn’t plan to stop advocating for Common Core, according to the letter.

“I will continue to be part of the ongoing CCSS conversation. However, this should not be extrapolated to indicate or predict the adoption of CCSS at Lipscomb Academy.”

Asked by WPLN why Common Core wouldn’t be used at her school, McQueen referred back to her letter.

“We make decisions about what’s going to be best within the context of our community,” she said. “I would say that’s absolutely what we’re going to do now and for the future.”

Lipscomb would be unusual if it went to Common Core. Most of Nashville’s private schools blend state and national standards and don’t use the same standardized tests as public schools.

Excerpt from McQueen’s letter to Lipscomb Academy parents:

As with any change in leadership, questions and concerns often arise as a natural part of the transition process. Because of my role as the dean of the university’s College of Education some of you have expressed concerns about my appointment and the direction Lipscomb Academy will take as it relates to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). I want to take a moment to address some of these concerns and possible misinformation.

First, the Common Core State Standards have not been adopted by Lipscomb Academy. While the standards have been adopted by the state of Tennessee along with 44 other states, private schools have the freedom to determine if they will use all, some or none of the CCSS. To date, Lipscomb Academy administrators have not adopted the standards, but have encouraged the faculty to learn about the math and English/language arts Common Core State Standards that are changing the expectations of students not only in Tennessee but also across the nation.

Second, I have also not been in any discussions about formal adoption of the CCSS at Lipscomb Academy. Currently, Lipscomb Academy draws from a variety of quality national and state standards selected by the school leadership and faculty to set a vision for what content, instruction and curriculum will be used at each grade level. This has proven to be effective; thus, I don’t anticipate any changes to this process now or in the future. As is current practice, all standards available will be reviewed at set intervals by leadership and faculty to determine the direction of Lipscomb Academy.

Third, some of you have voiced concerns that the academy will adopt the PARCC test that will soon replace the current Tennessee standardized test or TCAP. Lipscomb Academy uses the ERB test, not the TCAP, and there are no plans to replace the ERB test with PARCC.

Finally, in my role as dean of the College of Education, I prepare teachers to teach in all varieties of schools. Nearly 75 percent of our teacher graduates teach in a public school during their first three years post graduation. As a result, our College of Education faculty members (along with the other 44 teacher preparation programs across the state) promote and teach our teacher candidates about the standards adopted by the state of Tennessee. If we did otherwise, we would be irresponsible in preparing effective educators.

Our college and its associated Ayers Institute have developed teacher lessons and videos that demonstrate problem-solving, critical thinking and performance skills required by the CCSS in math, reading and language arts. As a result of a grant from the state of Tennessee, these resources were produced and are being used in teacher preparation programs statewide as we prepare teachers to understand the new standards. I have also spoken in favor of the CCSS before the Tennessee state Senate education committee in CCSS hearings this past September. In my role in education, I will continue to be part of the ongoing CCSS conversation. However, this should not be extrapolated to indicate or predict the adoption of CCSS at Lipscomb Academy. One of the blessings of being in the private schools sector is the opportunity to explore all possibilities within the community and culture in which you find yourself and to thoughtfully choose what fits your vision.

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