Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the Common Core State Standards?

The Common Core State Standards are Tennessee’s new standards in English language arts and math. They establish clarity about what students should know and be able to do when completing each grade, K-12, in math and English language arts in order to be on track for readiness for college or career.

What subjects are included in the Common Core State Standards?

The Common Core State Standards focus solely on math and English language arts. Common Core State Standards do not cover content in science, social studies or other subject areas.

Who leads the Common Core State Standards Initiative?

The nation’s governors and education commissioners, through their representative organizations the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) led the development of the Common Core State Standards and continue to lead the initiative. Teachers, parents, school administrators and experts from across the country, together with state leaders, provided input into the development of the standards.

Is it the same thing as curriculum?

No, standards are different from curriculum; standards represent the goal for what students should learn and curriculum is a road map for how to meet those goals or standards. Districts, schools, and teachers determine the curriculum, through textbooks and plans and materials created by teachers and districts. Curriculum and instruction will continue to be local decisions, as those closest to students are best positioned to know how to support their learning.

Why did Tennessee adopt Common Core State Standards?

In Tennessee, the decision to adopt the Common Core State Standards was made by the governor and the State Board of Education. The standards were adopted in July 2010 and represent the next step in the work the state had previously begun to strengthen standards through the adoption of the Tennessee Diploma Project standards. In 2007, the governor and General Assembly pushed for increased accountability in public education by raising academic standards. That year, more than 130 business leaders from across Tennessee worked with the governor and key legislators to articulate a vision for public education in the future—all high school graduates ready for a career or college. It is vital for the economic competitiveness of our state that employers are able to find skilled people for jobs in Tennessee. Based on multiple assessments, such as the ACT and National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), Tennessee students are less well prepared for life after high school—both those headed to college and those joining the workforce—than students in some neighboring states.

What is the cost of implementing Common Core State Standards?

The primary costs of training teachers to be ready for Common Core State Standards will be paid for by the Tennessee Department of Education as part of the Race to the Top grant. These costs include $15 million in training and support and content material development. Approximately $10 million of this allocation comprises stipends to Tennessee educators who will lead these trainings.


The costs of preparing students to meet the standards are similar to the costs currently allocated for the education of children. The Tennessee Department of Education and local schools and districts have always paid for assessment, professional development of teachers, and materials and resources. These costs will continue, but the transition to the standards should involve similar costs as administration of the current Tennessee Diploma Project standards.

Does this affect homeschooling?

The adoption of Common Core State Standards has no impact on homeschooling.

What data will be collected on students?

Federal law protects the privacy of student information and educational records through the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Personally identifiable information cannot be legally sold or even released to anyone without parental consent, and Tennessee will not release personally identifiable student information that would be in conflict with federal law. The state of Tennessee has collected student information through the TCAP assessment in accordance with state and federal law, and will continue these practices under new assessments.

The Tennessee Department of Education is committed to the security of all student information we collect. Only people with a valid educational interest, such as school and district employees working with the student, will have access to the student information protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).


The federal government does not have access to the student-level information housed in state data systems. Common Core is not a mechanism for federal data collection, nor does state implementation of Common Core and its related assessments require any data collection beyond the aggregate data authorized by current federal law.


How do the standards fit with the Response to Instruction and Intervention Framework?

The Response to Instruction and Intervention (RTI2) framework and standards are fundamentally linked. Both RTI2 and the Tennessee state standards require high expectations for all students. RTI2 is designed to help all students reach their potential. As the rigor and knowledge demands increase for students through the implementation of the Tennessee state ELA and math standards, RTI2 provides the needed support for students through interventions to ensure that all students receive the support they need. Within the 3-Tier RTI2 model, Tier I is where all students receive research-based, high quality, general education instruction using the Tennessee state standards for ELA and mathematics. For more information about RTI2, click here.

How will the standards impact teacher evaluation?

The Tennessee state standards provide a vision for what we teach and evaluation provides a vision for how we teach. The evaluation rubric is supported by research, and is purposely flexible to incorporate different teaching methods, styles and contexts. We have made minor revisions to the general educator rubric seeking greater alignment to the expectations and language used in the Tennessee state standards in order to encourage consistent application of the rubric. More information on rubric revisions may be found here. We will continue to support observers throughout the year as they work to continually improve their observation practices.

Has the department released a pacing guide for the Tennessee ELA and math standards?

No, the department has not released a pacing guide for the standards. Districts and schools have the autonomy to create and implement a curriculum that best meets the needs of their students. The department has provided other resources such as model units, instructional tasks, and constructed response assessment (CRA) items; these resources will continue to be available in the 2014-15 school year to support teachers, schools, and districts.

How can parents learn more about the Tennessee standards for ELA and math?

The Tennessee Department of Education and Tennessee school districts are deeply committed to open communication with schools, teachers, and parents throughout the implementation of Tennessee’s state ELA and math standards.

  • www.TNCore.orgserves as the primary website for information about Tennessee’s state ELA and math standards, and includes links to resources and training information.
  • TNCore.Questions@tn.govwas been created to facilitate answering questions about curriculum and instruction, including standards. We strive to respond to each question within 24 hours. We respond to 400 to 600 inquiries each month, and about 25 percent are related to state standards.
  • is being created to gather feedback from educators and the general public about the Tennessee state ELA and math standards. Emails to this address will be used to inform the process of implementation.
  • serves as a help desk for all training related issues. This address responds to about 200 inquiries monthly related to the various trainings being hosted by TDOE.