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VOL. 129 | NO. 51 | Friday, March 14, 2014

Tennessee House Votes to Delay Common Core Standards

LUCAS L. JOHNSON II | Associated Press

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NASHVILLE (AP) – A proposal to delay further implementation of the state's Common Core standards was approved in the House on Thursday, even though Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has called them key to Tennessee students' improvement.

The measure was approved 82-11 after being amended to delay implementation of the standards for two years. The testing component for other new benchmarks in math and reading will also be delayed for two years.

The original bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. Timothy Hill of Blountville, sought to make it a requirement that courses on the United States government be taught in public schools.

House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh of Ripley proposed the Common Core changes and said Hill's bill provided an opportunity to address an issue that has bipartisan concerns.

"There were like minds on this particular subject," said Fitzhugh, alluding to the GOP-dominated House of 71 Republicans, 27 Democrats and one independent.

The standards – developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers – are intended to provide students with the critical thinking, problem solving and writing skills needed for college and the workforce.

They have been voluntarily adopted by 45 states. Tennessee adopted them in 2010 and began a three-year phase-in the following year.

State education officials say the standards were fully implemented this year, but Fitzhugh said they haven't been completely applied in all school systems.

Critics say the standards were written in private and never tested in real classrooms, and that educators aren't familiar enough with the standards to use them, even though the state has provided training to roughly 30,000 teachers.

"We've been talking about this in conjunction with other education reforms for some time now," Fitzhugh said. "We need to slow this down and make sure we get it right."

The governor has joined other supporters who say the standards are needed to better prepare students for the future.

Haslam spokesman David Smith told The Associated Press in an email following Thursday's vote that the administration was going to review the amendments to assess their impact, but he made a point to say where the governor stands.

"Tennessee has come too far to go backward," Smith said. "The governor will continue to stand up for higher standards and relevant testing of those standards."

A proposal to dial back implementation of the standards failed in the Senate Education Committee Wednesday night.

The measure would have required the State Board of Education and the Department of Education to go back to where the implementation process was last year and not go beyond that until the Tennessee General Assembly grants approval.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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