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A Tennessee Teacher Says Don’t Hold Up Common Core: ‘Why Must My Students Wait?’

A Tennessee Teacher Says Don’t Hold Up Common Core: ‘Why Must My Students Wait?’_5fbee907da34d.jpeg
College Readiness Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Davida Smith-Keita High Standards Politics Tennessee

A Tennessee Teacher Says Don’t Hold Up Common Core: ‘Why Must My Students Wait?’

A Tennessee Teacher Says Don’t Hold Up Common Core: ‘Why Must My Students Wait?’

As we move into 2015, my colleagues and I are hard at work and moving deeper into the school year. We now know our students and we are working closely with each of them to meet their individual learning goals. Part of knowing our students is being sure that all the steps we take on their behalf each school day truly prepares them for future careers and colleges in Tennessee and elsewhere in our great nation and around the world.

Tennessee’s recent decision to not administer PARCC and delay implementation of the Common Core-aligned assessments was a significant disappointment for countless educators like me in our great Volunteer State. A year’s delay is a major stumbling block for the progress that has been realized in our classrooms. With Tennessee’s teachers having had a strong presence at the Common Core table, we were well-poised to use feedback from these assessments to continually improve teaching practice and increase academic growth for all of Tennessee’s students. The delay undermines the hard work that educators, students and families across the state have devoted to help support our state to reach this higher bar.

Tennessee’s teachers want progression, not regression. Tennessee is leading the nation on a fast track to higher academic achievement for all students under a set of comprehensive reforms supported by Race to the Top, meaningful accountability and a rigorous set of standards. Our teachers were among the first in the nation to receive training on the Common Core State Standards, and we have been engrossed in Common Core for several years now. We want the opportunity to measure the effectiveness of our teaching as aligned to the new, higher rigors of these standards.

But why must my students wait? Why must robust measurement of their academic progress be put on hold? Under the current timeline, my current tenth grade students, for example, could be waiting until well into their senior year of high school to find out how prepared they are for college and careers. This would not have been the case if we had moved forward on our original timeline.

Unfortunately, state legislators are now considering repealing Common Core altogether. This move, I fear, will not only put Tennessee’s students behind their counterparts across the country and around the globe, but will undo years of work teachers, parents and students have invested in these new college and career expectations. This will be eliminate any advantages we have attempted to provide our students in being prepared for college or work.

When it comes to addressing the true needs of students, too often the most important voices in the room go unheard or they are shut out altogether, which makes me wonder if there will be any Tennessee educators on the floor of the General Assembly the day they further debate Common Core in our state.

We have a lot to be proud of for all the tireless work our educators have put in, and we are ready to share this work as a model of what great Common Core implementation and assessment can look like across the nation. It is my hope that as we move into 2015, our legislators will speak personally with the many teachers across our great state who are ready to showcase the impressive ways that Tennessee’s students are meeting the demands of the Common Core State Standards.

Davida Smith-Keita is a National Board Certified English Teacher in Language Arts from Memphis, Tennessee. She is an America Achieves Teacher Fellow and two-time recipient of the Effective Practice Incentive Community (EPIC) Award.
Photo by Brian Donovan, CC-licensed.

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