- Associated Press - Thursday, September 25, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A recent survey shows support for Tennessee’s Common Core standards is decreasing among teachers, even though advocates, including business leaders, say they’re needed to prepare students for college and to compete in a global workforce.

The Tennessean (https://tnne.ws/ZNhdRC) reports the 2014 survey released Wednesday was done by the Tennessee Consortium on Research, Evaluation and Development, a group led by Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development.

According to the survey, 39 percent of the 27,000 Tennessee teachers who responded to it believe that teaching to the standards will improve student learning, compared with 60 percent who said the same in a similar survey last year.

It also found 56 percent of respondents want to abandon the standards, while 13 percent would prefer to delay their implementation. Only 31 percent want to proceed. The 2013 survey did not ask questions in that area.

Dale Ballou, a Vanderbilt professor and director of the consortium, said there’s no single symptom or explanation for the decreasing support.

“It’s a lot of different factors that seem to be playing into this,” he said. “The one thing I would caution people against is jumping to the conclusion that this means now that teachers are actually trying it, they’re discovering that it doesn’t work.”

Tennessee is among 44 states that have adopted the Common Core standards aimed at improving schools and students’ competitiveness across the nation.

The higher standards have been phased into classrooms in Tennessee for the past three years, but they’ve found increasing resistance both locally and nationally from conservatives and tea party supporters, many of whom say the standards are an attempt by the federal government to take over local education.

However, supporters of the standards are quick to point out the new benchmarks were developed not by the feds but by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

During Tennessee’s legislative session earlier this year, proposed measures to do away with the standards failed, but lawmakers did pass legislation to delay the testing component of the state’s standards.

Last week, Gov. Bill Haslam acknowledged the continued concern during an education summit, calling for a “full vetting” of the standards. The Republican governor said he plans to have more public discussions about them.

“We very much intend to … let people have a chance to talk very specifically about what they like and don’t like,” he said.

Supporters of the standards say they’re necessary to help high school students graduate with critical thinking, problem solving and writing skills that advocates say they’ll need for college and a global workforce.

“We’re competing with … businesses around the world,” said Johnson City business owner Ken Gough, who attended the summit. “And in many places around the world, much higher standards are expected of their students.”

Teresa Wasson is spokeswoman for the State Collaborative on Reforming Education, an advocate for Common Core. She told The Associated Press in an email on Thursday that SCORE gathered educator feedback this summer in a series of focus groups with teachers from across Tennessee.

She said teachers praised the quality of state training on the standards, but expressed concern that not all teachers were trained and a desire for more grade-specific training.

Wasson said the focus groups also found a widespread belief among educators that the state’s current testing program - known as TCAP - is no longer the right assessment and “dismay at the decision to delay a new assessment.”

“Altogether, this indicates a need for Tennessee to continue to focus on good implementation of the standards, including more support for teachers in using them,” she said.


Information from: The Tennessean, https://www.tennessean.com

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