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State implements Common Core teaching standards
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Tennessee is one of 46 states implementing Common Core State Standards teaching. The Common Core State Standards are a set of standards for math and English developed by state leaders to ensure every student who graduates high school is prepared for college or the workforce.
The standards go much more in depth than in years past. These standards will require new approaches to teaching and students will be required to master more critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Autumn Turner, K-5 director of instruction for Warren County Schools, said, “Teachers in Warren County used to teach 1 mile wide by 1 inch deep. Now, we will be teaching 1 inch wide by 1 mile deep. Teachers will have more time to develop conceptual understanding with problem solvers. Kids were losing the ability to think for themselves and problem solve with the old way of teaching so many standards. We want the kids to be deep thinkers. Teaching this way will allow kids to approach issues and solve them on their own.”
Tennessee is committed to ensuring high school students graduate prepared for college or a career. Tennessee is now taking a further step to enhance the quality of instruction and learning for its students. By adopting Common Core, teachers in Tennessee will be able to better learn from and collaborate with teachers in other states, since all teachers will follow a common set of standards.
Common Core State Standards will be phased into English/ language arts and math across all grade levels in the coming academic years, with full implementation scheduled for 2013-14.
The transition to Common Core will also include the adoption of new assessments that will measure what students have learned under the new standards. Starting in the 2014-15 school year, these assessments will replace the current Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) tests in math and English/ language arts for grades 3-11 and will be administered online.
 “These Warren County teachers will be able to teach this way this year. Warren is one county of 5 percent of districts in the state committed this early to teaching Common Core standards,” said Dr. Connie Smith, CEO of Smith Education Services, who was leading training sessions held at WCMS. Smith was one of the lead agents in developing and writing the Race to the Top application that brought $501 million in federal dollars to Tennessee for education.
Connie Hale, third-grade teacher at Centertown said, “Today was very beneficial. I always felt like there were so many standards and not enough time to cover them. Now, instead of skimming over them, we get to teach students to think on their own. This shows us how to integrate the different curriculums. I can see in the future using this and not labeling separate teaching times. We won’t have time for math, time for reading, time for science, etc. We will have cross-curricular and will say this is our learning time.”
All teachers, pre-K through grade 12, participated in the three-day training process. Area math teachers also took part in more training held in Crossville over the summer.
Director of Schools Bobby Cox sits on the Common Core Leadership Council with 12 others in Tennessee education. He helped develop the new standards and was nominated for the position by the Commissioner of Education.
“This is really what’s needed in Tennessee. This is what teachers have requested for years,” said Cox. “We have often said if we only had fewer standards and were able to go deeper into the content, we could help our students. We have gotten what we as educators have been asking for and now is our time to shine. Standards amounts are reduced so teachers and students can get deeper in the content of the lesson. We are one of 46 states committed to making our students competitive in the future.
More information can be found on the Common Core website at www.tncore.org and Warren County Schools’ website at www.warrenschools.com.