Does Pre-K Hurt Academic Achievement?

Dale Farran and Mark Lipsey with Vanderbilt University are authors of a study of Tennesse’s voluntary Pre-K program. They found that academic gains achieved by students in Tennessee pre-K classrooms began to fade out by first grade and vanished by third grade.

This study was highlighted in Straight Talk on Evidence with some new third-grade findings:

At the end of third grade, the study found statistically-significant adverse effects on student math and science achievement. In math, the VPK (voluntary pre-K) group scored 0.12 standard deviations lower than the control group, which equates to roughly 13 percent less growth in math achievement than would be expected in the third grade year. In science, the VPK group scored 0.09 standard deviations lower than the control group, which equates to roughly 23 percent less growth in science achievement than would be expected in the third grade year.

The study found no significant effects on reading achievement in third grade, or on school attendance, grade retention, or disciplinary infractions measured from kindergarten through third grade. The study found that VPK students were identified as needing special education services for speech/language impairment or learning/intellectual disabilities at a slightly higher rate than control group students (13.3 percent versus 10.6 percent in the third grade year).

I found the study authors’ comment on the initial reaction to their study remarkable:

Our initial results supported the immediate effectiveness of pre-k; children in the program performed better at the end of pre-k than control children, most of whom had stayed home.  The press, the public, and our colleagues relished these findings.  But ours was a longitudinal study and the third grade results told a different story.  Not only was there fade out, but the pre-k children scored below the controls on the state achievement tests.  Moreover, they had more disciplinary offenses and none of the positive effects on retention and special education that were anticipated.

Those findings were not welcome.  So much so that it has been difficult to get the results published.  Our first attempt was reviewed by pre-k advocates who had disparaged our findings when they first came out in a working paper – we know that because their reviews repeated word-for-word criticisms made in their prior blogs and commentary….

…It is, of course, understandable that people are skeptical of results that do not confirm the prevailing wisdom, but the vitriol with which our work has been greeted is beyond mere scientific concern.  Social science research can only be helpful to policy makers if it presents findings openly and objectively, even when unwelcome.

If an echo chamber exists among educrats, this certainly points to it.

On State Takeovers of School Districts

Roosevelt High School in Gary, Indiana

Recently there has been a number of high-profile cases of states taking over school districts. The Kentucky State Board of Education will soon decide whether or not they will take over Jefferson County Public Schools (Louisville), a move that both parents and teachers object to.

The Indiana Legislature voted in May to strip power from Gary and Muncie school district’s school boards. In Muncie’s case, Ball State University has been given control. In Gary’s case, MGT Consulting Group, based in Tallahassee, Fla., a $6.2 million contract to serve as Gary’s emergency manager. The emergency management team leader, former educator Peggy Hinckley (a native of Lake County where Gary is located), is the sole decision-maker.

The State of Louisiana took over New Orleans Public Schools after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 transitioning many of the public schools to charter schools. It was not a success. Mercedes Schneider writes in The Huffington Post:

An overarching goal of state takeover of Louisiana schools was for the state to assume control of most New Orleans public schools– which it did in 2005– and to convert all of those formerly local-board-run schools into charter schools– which it did by May 2014.

Louisiana’s RSD New Orleans (RSD-NO) was an experiment, one that was supposed to “turn around” those failing schools and make the RSD charter conversion a modern-day miracle.

By 2017– twelve years post-Katrina– it is clear that the experiment has failed. There is no incredible test-score-based miracle, and in no place is such failure more obvious than in the average ACT composite scores for RSD-NO in general and its high schools individually.

The state of Michigan controlled Detroit Public Schools from 1999-2006 and 2009-2016, the newly formed Detroit Public Schools Community District has an elected school board.

Tennessee has experience in taking over schools, with Memphis Public Schools being the largest district, and two studies show it is not working.

A 2016, paper by Michigan State University researchers studying the Detroit and Memphis takeovers concluded:

The formation of the EAA and ASD reflected the leadership of state and external partners in both urban districts. In practice, their introduction has added yet another district-like bureaucracy to the complex and evolving systems of school governance in both places. Key challenges involving finances, competition among schools, leadership turnover and lack of district-wide governance remain unaddressed by state policies.

The first study from Vanderbilt University cast doubt on the state’s achievement school district plan, The Tennessean reported in 2015:

District-run turnaround efforts of low-performing schools have yielded better results than that of Tennessee’s Achievement School District.

The finding, released Tuesday in a policy report by Vanderbilt University, casts doubt on the effectiveness of the district meant to help improve the bottom 5 percent of all schools in the state. The study, however, adds that most reform efforts take three to five years to change a school.

“Some years results are bouncing down or up, and across all years the change is basically a zero,” said Ron Zimmer, a professor of policy and education. “The overall story is that we’re not seeing an effect.”

And although he said reform efforts generally take years, district-run efforts have yielded positive results in a relatively short time.

A study from the Tennessee Education Research Alliance released on Tuesday shows three years later it still isn’t working. From The Tennessean:

The finding from a Tennessee Education Research Alliance research brief released Tuesday reinforces what researchers discovered in 2015 about the district over the course of three years. That district-run turnaround efforts of the state’s lowest-performing schools yield greater results than that of Tennessee’s state-run district

“The model that said to bring in a new manager and them give autonomy and good things will happen doesn’t work,” said Gary Henry, a Vanderbilt University researcher on the study and expert in education policy.

It brings about a moment where Tennessee’s education leaders must refocus on how Tennessee’s Achievement School District goes about its work because the threat of a state takeover has spurred action in districts, according to researchers of the study.

So the threat of a takeover appears to do more good than the actual takeover itself.

Local control in education is waning nationally and a state takeover of a local school district takes away the voice of the taxpayers and parents when elected boards are either abolished or neutered.

This is not to say each of these school districts were without problems, that certainly is not the case, but in the case of school takeovers, we see that the loss of local control does not produce the results the state promises.

Centralization fails yet again.

238 Education Data Bills Hit State Capitols in 2018 So Far

Photo credit: Nick Youngson (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Data Quality Campaign (not our ally in the fight against data mining) provided a snapshot of the number of education data bills hitting state capitol buildings near you.

They report there are 238 bills related to education data this year so far, and less than a third (70) have anything to do with protecting student data privacy.

They highlight bills before state legislators this year where they are trying to “make data work for students.”

Addressing inequities and underserved students’ needs

Echoing national conversations about disciplinary disparities and the unique needs of traditionally underserved students, numerous state bills this year target the reporting of data to address education inequities. For example:

  • Tennessee is considering a bill (HB 2651) to establish a commission on the school-to-prison pipeline. The commission would submit a report to the legislature including school discipline data and policy recommendations to implement restorative justice practices.
  • Indiana has a new law (HB 1314) requiring a report on how the state’s homeless students and students in foster care fare in school and how these students could be better supported.

Informing policy decisions and meeting state goals

Nearly 100 bills considered so far in 2018 have focused on how state policymakers themselves can use aggregate data to make policy decisions or meet their state’s education goals. For example:

  • California has introduced a bill (SB 1224) to create a state longitudinal data system (SLDS) with student data from kindergarten enrollment to workforce entry—a system that could help inform education policies across the state.
  • Mississippi considered a bill (HB 405) to use the state’s education data system to better understand the state’s workforce needs.

Empowering the public with more information

Over 60 bills this year would require states to publicly report more, or more useful and accessible, information about their schools. For example:

  • New Jersey is considering a bill (A 2192) to include data on chronic absence and disciplinary suspensions on school report cards.
  • Arizona is considering a bill (SB 1411) to create a new dashboard as part of the state’s school achievement profiles with new data on academic progress and school quality.

Empowering educators and families with student data

In years past, legislators have not frequently used legislation to give educators and parents secure access to their own student’s data. This year is seeing some more legislative activity on this important priority. For example:

  • Louisiana is considering a bill (SB 107) to ensure that teachers receive student-level assessment results in a format that is easy to understand and includes longitudinal student data if possible.
  • Massachusetts is considering a bill (S 40) that would create an electronic data “backpack” program for foster youth. The backpack would contain a student’s education record and would be available to the adults authorized to make decisions for that student.

The best way to “make data work for students” is to not collect it without parental knowledge and consent and to keep it at the local school level with the teachers where it could possibly do some good. The problem is, evidenced by the Louisiana bill, when data gets collected it heads to the state (and the feds and who knows what other third parties) who don’t teach the kids and have no business having that data.

Tennessee Family Groups & Legislators Stand Up to Social Emotional Standards Onslaught



Congratulations to the education freedom activists and legislators in Tennessee for standing up to social emotional learning (SEL) national heavyweight, CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning). Federally and foundation funded CASEL is trying to impose these subjective, indoctrinating SEL standards via grants in eight states, including Tennessee. The others are California, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Washington. 

CASEL implemented free-standing social emotional standards in Illinois in 2004. We fought them back then as EdWatch. Here is an example of the extremely subjective standards put in place:

“Consider ethical, safety, and societal factors in making decisions.”

The Tennessee Department of Education (TNDOE) said in its presentation that the five competencies that would be taught are: 1) Responsible Decision Making 2) Relationship Skills 3) Social Awareness 4) Self-Awareness 5) Self-Management. These are essentially the same ones mandated in Illinois.

How, does a student, especially a young child, “consider ethical…factors in making decisions” when adults that are supposed to be role models are not doing so?  For example, some physicians are shirking their ethical duty to protect the health and emotions of gender-confused children by prescribing dangerous, life-altering hormone treatments at the drop of a hat when a child declares a transgender identity, despite overwhelming research (also HERE) showing more than 80% of these adolescents revert back to an identity corresponding to their biological sex at birth, and the suicide rate among those who complete the transition to the opposite sex even in very LGBT-supportive a very high suicide rate

TNDOE also said that these SEL standards would be integrated into every area of learning, but then claimed there would be no assessment and no student data collection. It is nice to see that they may be listening to the main concerns, even if only in an effort to deflect them, from many organizations and parents across the nation. However, research from Joy Pullman of the Heartland Institute, Jane Robbins and Emmett McGroarty of the American Principles Project, and Shane Vander Hart here at Truth in American Education, as well as, what I wrote at Education Liberty Watch and The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, make that highly unlikely if not impossible to believe. SEL with affective data mining is the Holy Grail for Common Core, for corporations seeking a compliant workforce, and for government busy-bodies. Here is an example of another prominent group besides CASEL pushing SEL via Common Core:

ASCA [American School Counselors Association] – “Mindsets & Behaviors align with specific standards from the Common Core State Standards through connections at the competency level.”

As all of these documents show, social emotional standards are highly subjective and dangerous to freedom of thought and conscience, as well as privacy. They also perpetuate the false notion that it is the government schools’ responsibility to inculcate these values in place of parents and religious institutions; allow for indoctrination on controversial non-academic issues; and place more emphasis on job skills than on academics.

Many thanks to the Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACTN), Tennessee Eagle Forum (TNEF), and Tennessee Against Common Core for standing up to protect the families of Tennessee in this matter.  All three groups alerted their members and warned legislators. Here is part of a podcast from FACTN:

This initiative is a potential Trojan Horse for social engineering in our schools.  If we do not take action and contact our legislators, our children may be taught values at school that conflict with values being taught at home.

TNEF alerted its members with this information from the EdWeek article about the multistate effort and its many problems (problems admitted even by this very pro-government and Gates Foundation-funded education publication):

What about that tricky issue of measuring social-emotional learning? The controversial approach has been heavily discussed lately because the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, requires states to add an “additional indicator” to their school accountability systems in addition to traditional factors, like student test scores…But many prominent researchers have questioned the validity of self-reported student surveys, which are most commonly used to measure SEL. And some have said it’s problematic to use those surveys for high-stakes accountability purposes.

Tennessee Against Common Core also sent out an important and helpful alert.

The legislators involved also showed keen discernment about this problematic endeavor. It was clear from the legislative hearing (beginning at 1:42:12) that the elected officials were very concerned about these on a number of levels, the most obvious from the hearing being national/federal interference in the education system of a sovereign state. Parents’ rights, cost, overcrowding of an already packed school schedule, and burden on teachers were other important concerns raised.

All of these combined to show TNDOE that there was little appetite in that state for this effort. Here is the letter from the executive director of Tennessee’s Office of Safe and Supportive Schools, Pat Connor, as documented by TNEF containing the bureaucratically disguised cry of “Uncle!” (emphasis added):

The previously scheduled meeting for Thursday has been postponed. We will reach out soon with a new date for our first meeting.

The work around social and personal competencies is vital to Tennessee students’ readiness for the workforce. Thus, it is critical to align this work with other state goals around workforce readiness. Due to the time required to ensure this alignment, we cannot meet the timeline set forth by CASEL. As a result, we will not be able to be a part of the Collaborative States Initiative. However, based on the feedback we continue to hear about the need to support teachers in meeting the non-academic needs of all students, we will continue to independently develop Tennessee social and personal competencies. These competencies will be optional and will not be assessed.

We are excited about this continuing work and will have internal dates and agendas forthcoming. In addition, opportunities for external stakeholder engagement will be announced soon.

Pat Conner | Executive Director – Office of Safe & Supportive Schools

This is a very encouraging development and Tennessee activists and legislators deserve much credit and congratulations. This success will be helpful and inspiring to the other states targeted by CASEL. As mentioned in its email, however, the TNDOE still plans to pursue psychological indoctrination and profiling of the state’s children in service of “workforce readiness.” As was also pointed out by Bobbie Patray, president of TNEF in her newsletter, constant vigilance as well as strong parental action is still needed because of the SEL teaching materials already developed, such as the TNDOE document titled “Incorporating Social and Emotional Learning Into Classroom Instruction and Educator Effectiveness: A Toolkit for Tennessee Teachers and Administrators.”

Let us celebrate this victory in a battle, but continue the fight of the long war. Stay tuned for more updates. As Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, so wisely said, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” Thank you for all you do to protect the hearts and minds of our children! And to CASEL, we say, “Game on!”

Tennessee Didn’t Repeal Common Core, They Rebranded It


Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed a bill that started a “review and replacement” of the Common Core State Standards in August. Even when the bill was signed the result was uncertain:

It’s unclear whether the process set out by the new law will result in a significant step away from Common Core, or if it will represent a rebranding with minor tweaks. Tennessee school superintendentsin February sent state lawmakers a letter backing Common Core, although support for the standards has been waning among teachers – a September survey showed most Tennessee teachers now oppose Common Core.

I had concerns when the bill first passed the Tennessee House that it still left the State Board of Education in charge of approving the new standards. There wasn’t any legislative oversight to the process.

As the review committees were put together there was not unity on the end goal – a revision of the Common Core or  repeal?

Last week’s fiery press release by Ramsey, who named three people to the panel, refers in the headline to the “Common Core repeal committee” and then states in the release: “The committee was established by the Tennessee General Assembly for the explicit purpose of repealing and replacing the Common Core Standards established in 2010.” He described one of his appointees, Shirley Curry, as a “conservative activist” and invoked “Tennessee values” as being central to the need for an academic overhaul.

By contrast, this week’s statement by Haslam, who appointed four people to the group, called the same body a “Standards Recommendation Committee” and never mentions the words “Common Core” or “repeal.”

“We are committed to obtaining the highest possible standards in Tennessee’s schools, and I am grateful to these dedicated educators for agreeing to serve in this effort,”Haslam said in a more muted statement. “All Tennesseans want the best for our students, and this process will build on the historic gains we have made in education.”

Haslam stated that his problem was more with the name Common Core, than the actual standards themselves:

If the latter, the standards will undoubtedly be rebranded, as Haslam acknowledged earlier this year that the name “Common Core” is problematic for many groups. “I just realized that fixing the brand is too hard,” Haslam told editors and publishers at a Tennessee Press Association meeting in February. “There’s certainly hills you should die on, but dying on a brand that people feel that way about, I don’t think is smart.”

Last fall, Haslam initiated a year-long review process to scrutinize the current enhanced standards, so that the standards, which were fully implemented during the 2012-2013 school year, do not get gutted alongside the Common Core label.

So now The Tennesseean declares that the Common Core has been “phased out.”

The state developed a more rigorous review process to assess the standards, including two online public reviews, educator review and legislative input. The review process took almost two years.

“We started with the current state standards. From there we executed an unprecedented transparent, comprehensive review and replacement process,” State Board of Education Executive Director Sara Heyburn said.

“The results were a set of new, Tennessee-specific standards brought to us by the Standards Recommendation Committee, whose members were appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor, and the speaker of the House of Representatives and confirmed by the General Assembly,” Heyburn said.

Starting with the Common Core is the problem. A true repeal would set the standards and the committees would start from scratch. This process would just lead to tweaks. Granted there may be some improvements, but let’s be clear this wasn’t a repeal and Tennessee has adopted Common Core lite sans the name Common Core.

Maybe Bubble Tests Aren’t So Bad After All

Photo source:

Photo source:

Tennessee just experienced an online testing meltdown yesterday, Chalkbeat reports:

Within minutes after some schools statewide began administering the TNReady test developed by North Carolina-based Measurement Inc., the company’s online platform experienced a severe network outage, prompting state officials to order districts to stop the testing immediately if they were experiencing technical difficulties.

By the end of the day, the issues not resolved, Education Commissioner Candice McQueen emailed district directors to stop the process altogether because, she said, “we are not confident in the system’s ability to perform consistently.”

The admission and change of plans are a major blow to McQueen and her Education Department, which have worked with Measurement Inc. since October 2014 to develop a new assessment that moves Tennessee schools to online testing and also is aligned with Tennessee’s current Common Core standards. Even before then, the state had prepared for years for the switch to online testing.


Tennessee State Legislator Blocked From Taking Standardized Assessment

image001(Troy, TN) Tennessee State Representative Andy Holt (R-Dresden) had planned to test alongside 8th grade English & Language Arts students Thursday at Hillcrest Elementary School to address the concerns of hundreds of Northwest Tennessee parents and teachers that had contacted him regarding the new standards for the TN Ready standardized tests. However, hours before Holt was scheduled to appear, Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen contacted Holt and discouraged him from testing.

“I told Commissioner McQueen that I had a job to do,” said Holt. “When your constituents ask you to do something for  them, you follow through. My only goal was to quietly walk in and take a seat off to the side and sit for the same exam in the same environment that our children are. After the exam was over, I wanted to talk to students and see how they felt about it. These are some our youngest constituents in the state. Their voice matters too. This has become a national issue. People all over the country are upset.” 

Shortly after Holt hung up the phone with McQueen after informing her that he would still be coming to the school, Holt received a phone call from the Obion County Schools administration telling him that they were not going to allow him to visit the school.

“Honestly, I’m completely shocked. I was told that I would not be allowed to visit the school today and speak with these concerned teachers, students and parents that had even planned to be there,” said Holt. “I was told that they were under the impression that I wanted to take the exam because of ‘technical glitches’. However, no one ever said anything about technical glitches. This was always about standards, not glitches. They knew that. In fact, I spoke with the school principal yesterday and was invited with a warm welcome. Now, the tone has changed. This morning, their words were, ‘Nothing is wrong with the standards. There is no reason for you to review them in the classroom. We thought you were coming because of glitches.’ Even if that were the case, why was I welcomed if it was about glitches, but when it became about standards, they slammed the door closed on an elected official?”

Holt said that this kind of behavior is exactly why people have lost faith in their government.

“You know, when you block an elected official from addressing the concerns of parents and teachers, you’ve validated every single concern that parents and teachers have,” said Holt. “This is why people do not trust their government. Who can blame them? On countless occasions, I have seen administrators, guidance counselors, etc.  sit in on exams with teachers proctor over student tests. Since when are elected officials and parents not allowed to see what kind of environment their students are being taught in? Since when did a public school become shut off to the public?”

Rep. Andy Holt is the Tennessee State Representative representing Weakley, as well as, parts of Obion and Carroll Counties.

Tennessee House Votes to Replace Common Core

Tennessee-FlagYesterday the Tennessee House votes 97 to 0 to pass HB 1035, a bill that would replace the Common Core State Standards by the 2017-2018 school year.

Here is the bill’s summary in full:

AMENDMENT #1 rewrites this bill and requires the state board of education to implement a process whereby the set of standards known as the Common Core State Standards adopted in 2010 will be reviewed and replaced with new sets of standards adopted to fit the needs of Tennessee students. These college-and-career-ready standards must be adopted through an open, transparent process that allows all Tennesseans an opportunity to participate. These standards must be adopted and fully implemented in Tennessee public schools in the 2017-2018 school year.

This amendment requires the state board of education or the department of education to cancel any memorandum of understanding concerning the Common Core State Standards entered into with the national governor’s association and the council of chief state school officers.

As required by the current established process:

(1) The state board will appoint two standards review and development committees. One committee will be an English language arts standards review and development committee, and one committee will be a mathematics standards review and development committee. Each committee will be composed of two representatives from institutions of higher education located in the state and six educators who reside in the state and work in grades K-12;
(2) The state board will also appoint six advisory teams. Three advisory teams will advise and assist the English language arts standards review and development committee, and three advisory teams will advise and assist the mathematics standards review and development committee. The advisory teams will be structured by grade levels, so that one advisory team reviews standards for K-5, one for grades 6-8, and one for grades 9-12 in each subject. Each advisory team will be composed of one representative from an institution of higher education located in the state and six educators who reside in the state and work in the appropriate grade levels and subject;
(3) The public’s assistance in reviewing the current standards and suggesting changes to the current standards will be elicited through a web site that allows comment by the public, as well as by educators, on the current standards. A third-party, independent educational resource, selected by the state board, will collect all of the data and transmit all of the information gathered to the state board for dissemination to the appropriate advisory team for review and consideration;
(4) Each advisory team must review the current standards for its subject matter and grade level together with the comments and suggestions gathered from the public and educators. After an advisory team has conducted its review, the team will make recommendations for changes to the current standards to the appropriate standards review and development committee; and
(5) Each standards review and development committee will review its advisory teams’ reports and make recommendations for the new set of standards to the standards recommendation committee, created by this amendment.

The standards recommendation committee will be composed of 10 members. The governor will appoint four members, the speaker of the senate will appoint three members, and the speaker of the house will appoint three members. The standards recommendation committee will review and evaluate the recommendations of the two standards review and development committees and post the recommendations to the web site created pursuant to this amendment for the purpose of gathering additional feedback from the public. The standards recommendation committee must make the final recommendations as to the new set of standards to the state board, which will adopt sets of standards in English language arts and mathematics that fit the needs of Tennessee students in K-12.

Prior to the next adoption of academic standards in the subjects of science and social studies, the state board of education must establish a process whereby the board will receive recommendations from a standards recommendation committee appointed in the same manner as the standards recommendation committee created above. The standards recommendation committee will make the final recommendations as to the revision and replacement of the current sets of standards in these subject areas to the state board, which will adopt sets of standards in science and social studies that fit the needs of Tennessee students in K-12. Each LEA will be responsible for developing and implementing the instructional programs under the state standards adopted by the state board that best fit its students’ educational needs, that achieve levels of proficiency or advanced mastery, and that vigorously promote individual teacher creativity and autonomy.

AMENDMENT #2 refers to “postsecondary-and-workforce ready standards” instead of “college-and-career ready standards”.

AMENDMENT #3 adds a preamble and requires that all appointments to the standards recommendation committee be subject to confirmation by the senate and the house. The appointments to the standards recommendation committee will be effective until adversely acted upon by the senate and the house.

“This legislation is a template for all states to begin a much needed journey of separation from federally generated standards and an invitation to embrace each states’ own constitutionally delegated authority to serve its citizens at its own will,” said HB1035 chief sponsor Rep. Billy Spivey (R-Lewisburg). “As our founders and God surely intended.”

“I set out on a mission to do everything in my power to repeal Common Core in State of Tennessee this year,” said HB1035 chief co-sponsor Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden). “In addition to repealing Common Core, this bill puts even more control back in the hands of families, local schools and the State of Tennessee, which is exactly where it belongs.”

“Both Democrats and Republicans in my district are strongly against Common Core,” said co-sponsor Rep. Bryan Terry (R-Murfreesboro).” I am proud to have had the opportunity to amend this legislation in order to ensure that the was indeed to completely rescind Common Core from the State of Tennessee. Tennessee families, teachers and legislators will now be able to create their own standards, and for that I am thankful.”

While I won’t say bills like these are not a positive step in the right direction considering the alternative I do have concerns that perhaps the Tennessee Senate can address.

It’s hard not to be skeptical of replacement bills of late because as we have just seen rebranding.  This bill is interesting however because it has three layers – advisory teams, standards review and development committee, and then the standards recommendation committee.  The standards recommendation committee appointments are subject for confirmation.  Interestingly enough that is the committee that is appointed by the Governor (4 members), Speaker of the Senate (3 members) and Speaker of the House (3 members).  The standards review and development teams and advisory teams are appointed by the State Board of Education.  The State Board of Education then has final say on adopting the new standards.

The biggest problem I have with this bill is that the State Board of Education has final say on the standards that are adopted.  The Legislature cedes it’s oversight of the process.  Having a recommendation committee that functions separately from the development committee isn’t a bad idea.  I also don’t like that there is not public forums for public feedback.  They need something beyond taking comments online.  All comments should be made public prior to the adoption of any standards.  All meetings should be recorded.  EVERYTHING involving this process should be open and transparent and then ultimately the Legislature not the State Board of Education should have the final say in the matter.

Common Core Fights Brewing in Statehouses Across the Country

West Virginia State Capitol Building - Charleston, WV Photo credit: O Palsson (CC-By-2.0)

West Virginia State Capitol Building – Charleston, WV
Photo credit: O Palsson (CC-By-2.0)

The Washington Post gives a preview of state house fights over Common Core that are on the horizon after the GOP wave.

Strategists involved in the state-by-state fight against the national K-12 math and reading benchmarks say conservative legislators will introduce or have introduced legislation in dozens of states that will target individual components of Common Core standards, rather than single bills aimed at dismantling the whole program all at once.

In Maine, conservative legislators are crafting legislation likely to be filed next week that will attack Common Core in three chunks: One would formally withdraw the state from the national standards. A second would change testing requirements imposed by an earlier legislature. Another would prevent the state from sharing education data with federal statisticians. Similar bite-sized measures are likely to appear elsewhere….

…(Utah Gov.) Herbert is one of the governors who will be playing defense on Common Core this year. Conservatives in the Utah legislature, and in states like Ohio, Tennessee, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Georgia and Maine, are likely to try to repeal all or part of the standards. Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) and Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead (R) both said they expect to see conservatives try their own repeal bills.

Republicans who support the tougher standards have been taken aback by the response from conservatives both nationally and in their own states.

Read the rest.  We’ll be tracking bills as we become aware of them.  You will be able to find that information in a series of posts using the tag “2015 Bills.”  You can let us know about new bills by email us at

Only 38% of Tennessee Voters Support Common Core

Photo credit: Thomas R Machnitzki (CC-By-SA 3.0)

Photo credit: Thomas R Machnitzki (CC-By-SA 3.0)

Vanderbilt University recently polled 503 registered voters in Tennessee about Common Core.

They asked: “As you may no know, in the last few years, states have been deciding whether or not to use the Common Core, which are education standards for reading and math that are the same across the states.  In the states that have these standards, they will be used to hold public schools accountable for their performance.  How much do you support or oppose the use of the Common Core standards in Tennessee?”

  • 21% Strongly support Common Core
  • 17% Somewhat support
  • 12% Neither support or oppose
  • 18% Somewhat oppose
  • 28% Strong oppose these Common Core standards.

So 46% of Tennessee voters oppose the Common Core.  Only 38% support them and this is even after Vanderbilt described the Common Core somewhat positively.  As we saw in September Tennessee teachers like it even less than the general public with 56% of Tennessee teachers polled saying they wanted to abandon Common Core.

No wonder there may be some action taken on Common Core in Tennessee.  Let’s just hope it’s real action, not an attempt to pull the wool over our eyes.