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New Standards = Majority of Tennessee Schools Will Fail?

February 24, 2010

Original Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sifu_renka/3154262306/

The Tennessean is carrying a story this morning about the possible effects of new curriculum standards that went into effect this year:

Tennessee’s top education official predicts the majority of the state’s 1,700 schools will fail to meet standardized testing goals this spring because of the new, tougher public school curriculum introduced this school year.

Tennessee’s schools are more challenging, and tests that measure what students know will be tougher too, said Commissioner of Education Timothy Webb. That means students and schools that boasted high test scores under the old system may for the first time wind up with a failing grade.

More students may be held back a grade, and Metro Schools could face a state takeover.

Yeah, that sucks.  It’s going to be really tough if we go from doing reasonably well to looking at a desolated post-apocalyptic landscape of educational failure.  HOWEVER, it’s important not to lose heart.  It’s like ripping off a band-aid (though, really, it’s like ripping off a band-aid in slow motion for like 2 years).  Dr. Webb is right: These standards will ultimately benefit our children, and we need to be realistic.  This is finally coming to grips with what was one of the worst parts of NCLB (i.e., that states were by and large allowed to set their own standards, so could set the bar extremely low if they wanted to).  However, we’re doing the right thing now by bumping up the standards (which are given a good overview by Sevier County Schools here), even if it’s going to be painful.  After all, who likes to be called a “cream puff”?*

In addition, states with already low standards have done nothing to raise them. Oklahoma and Tennessee once again share the cream puff award, with both states earning Fs because their self-reported performance is much higher than can be justified by the NAEP results.

*Kudos to Jaime Sarrio for digging up the “cream puff” thing, which (obviously) became the high-point of my post.  Well done.

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