TN lawmakers prepare bill to put brakes on Common Core

(WBIR - Knoxville) Some Tennessee lawmakers say they are putting together a bill to put the brakes on implementation of Common Core State Standards in public schools for several years.

Tennessee is one of 45 states to adopt the Common Core curriculum, which set a more rigorous standard for what students should know in English and mathematics at the end of each grade. Implementation began three years ago and students across the state are set to begin taking standardized tests on the material next school year.

Knox County Schools superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre says installation of Common Core is already complete.

"We are in the midst of full implementation of Common Core State Standards this year, in the current academic year. So, we're already doing it," said McIntyre. "The talk of a bill to pause implementation of Common Core, that is a little bit confusing to me because we're already in full implementation. So that would be a step backwards."

The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville (owned by WBIR's parent company, Gannett) quoted Republican representative Rick Womick, R-Rockvale, as saying a dozen House Republicans are united behind a bill to pause the Common Core curriculum while also introducing legislation to delay administering the corresponding test.

"Bottom line is, yes, we're looking at legislation that will put a pause on Common Core and put a pause on the PARCC testing until we can sit down and really take a look at this and see what's going on with it," said Womick.

Republicans are not united against Common Core State Standards. Governor Bill Haslam supports Common Core and says the curriculum was not forced upon states. Rather, Haslam points out that Tennessee played a part in helping develop the testing assessment used by the states who adopt Common Core.

"The governor believes Common Core is critical to the progress the state has made, and he's committed to making sure we continue that momentum," said Haslam spokesman Dave Smith.

Smith pointed out Tennessee has improved on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) national report card in recent years while implementing Common Core standards.

"What we've seen in Tennessee is when you raise the bar and you raise expectations for kids and adults, we strive to meet those expectations," said McIntyre.

While Common Core has been in the works for several years, opposition to it has gone viral in recent months. A Farragut High School student's speech against Common Core at a Knox County Board of Education meeting caught the eye of national media and has garnered more than two million views on YouTube.

Knox County teachers recently completed a survey that revealed opinions are evenly divided on the topic of Common Core's overall impact. For the entry "I think Common Core State Standards will benefit instructional practice and student learning," approximately 36 percent of teachers said they agree, 27 percent were neutral, and 37 percent disagreed.

While legislation to put Common Core on the shelf has not been introduced yet, Womick said the final language will be complete in time for the bill to be proposed before the deadline in February.


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