About Common Core

About Common Core

What are the Common Core State Standards?

The Common Core State Standards are a set of standards for math and English Language Arts that were developed by state leaders to ensure that every student graduates high school prepared for college or the workforce.  The standards are designed to set clear expectations of what students should know in each grade and subject.  They reflect rigorous learning benchmarks when compared to countries whose students currently outperform American students on international assessments.  States voluntarily choose whether to adopt the standards. To date, 46 states, including the District of Columbia, have adopted Common Core standards. The initiative is led by the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and Achieve.  For more information, please visit http://www.corestandards.org/.

Why did Tennessee adopt the Common Core?

Tennessee is committed to ensuring that high school students graduate prepared for college and career. Currently, only 15 percent of Tennessee students graduate at a college-ready level.[1] The state took an initial step to raise standards by adopting the Tennessee Diploma Project standards in 2009 to meet this challenge. By joining nearly every other state to develop and implement Common Core standards, Tennessee is now taking a further step to enhance the quality of instruction and learning for its students. By adopting the Common Core, teachers in Tennessee will be able to better learn from and collaborate with teachers in other states, since all teachers will follow a common set of standards.

[1] ACT. (2011). 2011 ACT National and State Scores. Retrieved from: http://www.act.org/newsroom/data/2011/states.html

How will the Common Core affect teaching in Tennessee?

Common Core standards will allow teachers more creativity and flexibility in their teaching while requiring a significant shift in instructional practice. Although there is some alignment between Tennessee’s standards and the Common Core, the Common Core requires a deeper engagement with a smaller number of standards than what the state currently requires. These standards will require new approaches to teaching, and students should expect enhanced rigor in their courses. Specifically, students will be required to master more critical thinking and problem-solving skills. For more details on changes in the classroom, please see the Instructional Shifts sections in the subject-area subpages.

How will Common Core affect assessment in Tennessee?

The transition to the Common Core will also include the adoption of new assessments that will measure what students have learned under the new standards. Starting in the 2014-15 school year, these assessments will replace the current Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) tests in math and English Language Arts for grades 3-11. These assessments will be administered online and include a summative assessment comprised of a Performance Based Assessment (PBA) and an End-of-Year Assessment (EOY). Tennessee is working with a number of other states in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) Consortium to design these new assessments. For more information on PARCC and assessment design, please visit http://www.parcconline.org/.

What is the timeline for implementing the Common Core in Tennessee?

Common Core State Standards will be phased into English Language Arts and math across all grade levels in the coming academic years, with full implementation scheduled for 2013-14. For more details, see Tennessee’s transition plan as well as the math and ELA subpages.