- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Common Core bill passes House 81-9

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Legislation that would require any data collected under Tennessee’s Common Core standards only be used to track the academic progress and needs of students has passed the House.

The bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Bill Dunn of Knoxville was overwhelmingly approved 81-9 Monday evening.

The standards are intended to provide students with the critical thinking, problem solving and writing skills needed for college and the workforce.

They have been voluntarily adopted by 45 states. Tennessee adopted them in 2010 and began a three-year phase-in the following year.

One of the main criticisms of the standards is that they could lead to the sharing of personally identifiable student data with the federal government. Dunn’s proposal seeks to prevent that.

An amendment to repeal the Common Core standards in Tennessee was withdrawn.

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Fiscal Review Committee bill delayed in House

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A proposal that would change the time frame the Legislature’s Fiscal Review Committee has to provide a fiscal analysis of a bill has been delayed.

The measures sponsored by Republican Rep. Mark White of Memphis was debated for a while on the House floor Monday evening before lawmakers voted to send it back to the House State Government Committee.

The Fiscal Review Committee prepares a “fiscal note” on each bill introduced, providing an estimate on the costs - if any - to state and local governments from enactment.

The legislation sought to remove the requirement that the fiscal note be done in 10 days from the introduction of a bill, and instead be completed once the measure is scheduled to be debated on the House or Senate floor.

The companion bill is waiting to be heard by the full Senate.

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Bill gives students free religious expression

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Legislation that would allow a student to express a religious belief in a school assignment has passed the House.

The measure sponsored by Republican Rep. Courtney Rogers of Goodlettsville was overwhelmingly approved 90-2 on Monday.

Under the proposal, a student could express beliefs about religion in homework, artwork and other written and oral assignments free from discrimination based on the religious content.

Rogers said she proposed the legislation after a 10-year-old student was given an assignment to write about the person she most admires and she chose God. The teacher asked her to choose another subject.

The legislation would also allow a student to organize student prayer groups and other religious gatherings to the same degree that students are permitted to organize noncurricular activities and groups.

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Lawsuit challenges use of student test scores

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Tennessee’s largest teachers’ union is suing the Knox County Board of Education, claiming the student test scores used to assess a teacher’s performance were flawed and cost her a bonus.

The Tennessee Education Association has long argued that the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System, or TVAAS, shouldn’t be relied upon because it’s a statistical estimate.

The lawsuit says Knox County teacher Lisa Trout was unfairly denied the district’s bonus after being misled about how her TVAAS estimate would be calculated.

TEA general counsel Richard Colbert says Trout’s situation illustrates the problem with using statistical estimates for decisions that affect teacher pay and that her case raises concerns “over the constitutionality of such practices.”

The association has proposed legislation during the current General Assembly that would prohibit TVAAS scores from being tied to teacher licensing.

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