Students and teachers are enjoying summer vacations, but thousands of educators in Tennessee are back in the classroom this week, preparing for new standards.
Tennessee joins 45 other states in adopting the "Common Core" standards. More than 13,000 teachers began training Tuesday in the new standards.
The basic idea can be explained in a simple equation. Fewer, more focused standards plus better explanation and critical thinking, equals greater comprehension.
Cindy Bateman, a middle school math coach in Knox County is looking forward to the new standards.
"I've been looking at Common Core for probably a year to a year and a half," she said. "I'm excited about it."
They are rolling it out gradually.
Kindergarten, first and second grades currently use Common Core. Math implementation starts in the fall of 2012. English and Language Arts follows in 2013.
"In 2013-2014 the full implementation of Common Core state standards, across K-12 in the state of Tennessee,, will be up and running," said Millicent Smith, representative of the Tennessee Common Core Leadership Council.
The new approach focuses more on process, rather than results.
"A lot of times we learn one way to do a math problem, when there may be many ways, several ways to do that," Smith said. "We want our students to be encouraged to be problem solvers and critical thinkers, that's what they're going to be asked to do in the workplace and when they go on to college."
It is another change in the classroom for teachers already adapting to years of reform.
"It's a big change, and any time you have a big change, it's a bit scary," Baseman said. "But I think that through these trainings we'll hopefully at least be on the right track. We'll work with each other, we'll do what it takes."
But the goal is clear.
"It's what's best for kids, and that's the most important thing," Smith said.
In Knox County, a major Common Core workshop is planned later this month.
More than 3,000 teachers from all grade levels signed up for the "Charting the Course" program.
"Just the opportunity to have so many of our teachers in the same place at the same time, hearing the same message, about the importance of the Common Core and about the skills and strategies that they'll need to be successful as instructors in the Common Core, I think is going to be incredibly powerful and I'm really excited about it," said Dr. Jim McIntyre, Superintendent.
The workshop runs from July 30th through August third.