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G. Tatter

Haslam announces public review of Common Core two years ahead of schedule

Four years after their Tennessee roll-out, the Common Core State Standards will undergo a period of intense review by the public and committees of educators, Gov. Bill Haslam announced today.

“With these standards now in their fourth year, and with the discussion happening in Tennessee and across the country about Common Core state standards, Haslam believes this is the appropriate time to take a fresh look,” a press release from the governor’s office said.

Standards are typically reevaluated every six years, putting this review two years ahead of schedule.

The discussion around the Common Core, which are used to determine which skills students should learn for math and English, has been volatile. The governor, department of education officials, the heads of the Chamber of Commerce, and many legislators defend the standards as a means to boost Tennessee’s economy by increasing the number of residents ready for college and a career. The loudest critics of the standards, in the legislature and smaller school districts,  say the standards represent federal overreach into education.

The standards were developed by educators from across the country and are used in most states, although other Southern states and Indiana have pulled back from them in the past year.

The most vocal critics, for the most part, have been politicians, not teachers. But a Vanderbilt study showed that teachers are becoming less supportive of the standards as well.

A promise to implement the common core figured prominently into the state’s 2010 application to Race to the Top, a federal grant competition that Tennessee won, funneling more than $500 million into its public schools.

According to the press release, the state will soon put up a website where the public can review and comment on each current standard. Next summer, after the period of public review, the standards will also be reviewed by teams of educators, as well as the Southern Regional Education Board, a non-profit headquartered in Atlanta. The state board of education will then review the committees’ recommendations.

Although the review won’t be complete until after the upcoming legislative session, the General Assembly could still repeal the standards in the spring. A bill to repeal the standards failed in the most recent session.