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The Impact of COMMON CORE on YOU AND YOUR FAMILY
The state of education in Chattanooga has long been a complicated question. In a region that has historically ranked low in education and test scores, Chattanooga has placed a premium on education since Thomas Hooke McCallie brought a famous educator to the new city growing in the wilderness. Today’s Chattanooga is home to three of the most successful private schools in the country, and its magnet schools are consistently ranked among the highest-achieving public schools in the nation.
When people in Chattanooga ask where you went to school, they don’t mean college. Bumper stickers and booster shirts announce who you are and where you come from before you even get there, a school affiliation screaming out your social standing and economic status. And yet, in a city celebrated for business, entrepreneurial spirit and innovation, recent ACT scores suggest that only 18 percent of Tennessee high school seniors are academically prepared for college. That sounds a lot like 82 percent of high school seniors who are not on a trajectory toward success or achievement.
Something had to change. With assistance from groups like the Public Education Foundation (PEF), teachers have translated trainings and leadership opportunities into enhanced successes in the classroom. Recently, 14 local schools were honored for posting test scores that were among the highest five percent in the state, and the new STEM high school is now serving a 9th grade class, the 10th graders leading the way in a unique setting with seemingly limitless potential for learning and exploration.
School has started for the year, and as students are heading to the classrooms, political buzzwords are packed in their backpacks and screaming “Common Core” at their parents from the headlines. Chattanooga’s Mayor Andy Berke described his philosophy for the city as “budgeting for outcomes” and challenged his staff to “not do things just because that’s how they’ve always been done,” reorganizing the system of government to allow for innovation to change the city in key areas.
Common Core takes that same approach and seeks to prepare American students to be successful in college and careers by providing clear goals for student learning instead of telling teachers how to teach.
In true Pulse form we talked to people about what they knew and what they wanted to know about education in Chattanooga, Common Core and how it will impact you and your family.
What is Common Core and where did it come from?
Historically, each state has had different standards and measurement tools. Common Core State Standards establish expectations aligned with those in colleges and careers. The consistency of standards between states allows teachers, administrators and districts to share best practices. Local teachers, principals and superintendents led the implementation of Common Core, and school districts in Tennessee have been phasing in use of the Common Core Standards for math and English language arts during the last two years. The standards are a clear set of goals establishing what students need to learn—but don’t dictate to teachers how they should teach it. Curriculum decisions and textbook choices are made locally, but the standards focus on real-world skills and critical thinking that will prepare students to succeed and compete in college and career s globally.
Common Core changes the teaching model from teachers having knowledge that they share, to a model that gives students access to information and teaches them how to find it. As PEF’s Dan Challener explains, it “flips the model of the classroom to consuming the content at night and doing work in groups with problem-based experiences” at school.