Knox Co. Schools enter final phase of Common Core

(WBIR-Knoxville) Knox County schools have entered the final phase of implementing a new standard for all students. Forty-five states have adopted the Common Core State Standards in schools, while Minnesota has partially adopted it.

On Thursday night, parents had a chance to learn more about what it will mean for their kids at Karns Elementary School. By next year, Knox County Schools will be using the same education standards that states across the country have adopted. Those supporting the program say it helps gauge how ready students are for their next grade, for college, and eventually for their careers.

Karns Elementary is entering its last phase of the transition.

"With this being the final phase and with this year being on the Reading and English, Language, Arts (ELA) curriculum in particular, there are a lot more changes," Karns Elementary PTA Chair Cindy Buttry said.

Buttry said she has noticed her fourth grader reads more nonfiction books.

Common Core has come with its fair share of controversy. Some opposed to Common Core say school districts are conforming to national guidelines for students, rather than ones set by Tennesseans.

Karns Principal Darlene Miller said the school district will still choose its curriculum.

"I think maybe some people are trying to make it about politics and I don't see it being about politics at all. I think that this was a grassroots movement by the governors of our states that decided we got to do something to help our students be prepared across the board," Miller said.

With Common Core, students will take a new exam online called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test.

"That is something to be concerned about in that it's going to take some funds and testing is going to look different than what it has in the past," Miller said.

According to Miller, testing will be based more on critical thinking, versus filling in bubbles. There will be more than one right answer to some questions and more than one way to solve a problem. Students will have to explain how they got to their answer. Those in favor of Common Core believe this is a more realistic example of how students will have to approach situations once out of school.

Some lawmakers are still fighting Common Core even though Governor Bill Haslam has already agreed to adopt the program. Thursday was the beginning of a two-day hearing at the state capitol where opponents are expressing their concerns.


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