Knox County education leaders weigh in on Common Core

Knox County education leaders weigh in on Common Core

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"I believe the Common Core has actually helped us move us in the right direction," said Tanya Coats, president of the Knox County Education Association. "I believe the Common Core has actually helped us move us in the right direction," said Tanya Coats, president of the Knox County Education Association.
"I just feel like we have we rolled it out too soon. I have more of an issue with implementation than Common Core itself," Gloria Johnson said. "I just feel like we have we rolled it out too soon. I have more of an issue with implementation than Common Core itself," Gloria Johnson said.
"It is a way for teachers to go deeper into the content," said Cindy Sanford, from Lonsdale Elementary. She is a Common Core math coach for the state. "It is a way for teachers to go deeper into the content," said Cindy Sanford, from Lonsdale Elementary. She is a Common Core math coach for the state.

By JILL MCNEAL
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Common Core is the name given to new standards all kids in Tennessee are being asked to meet in school. It's also a point of controversy here in Tennessee and across the nation.

"A mile wide, an inch deep" was the problem cited that led to Common Core standards in math and English being adopted by 45 states, including Tennessee.

"It is a way for teachers to go deeper into the content," said Cindy Sanford, from Lonsdale Elementary. She is a Common Core math coach for the state. She says her feedback from teachers and students has been positive. 

"It's not the multiple choice responses that students were used to doing. Now they're having to write to explain their thinking, explaining why they chose the process that they chose, or why what they did worked," Sanford said.

Those are skills that officials say students need for both college and career.

"They have to be able to read for information and be able to answer questions. It is what employers are looking for," said Mike Edwards, president of the Knoxville Chamber and a member of the state board of education.

"Here is what has been used against Common Core: that it was something that the federal government is forcing on the states," Edwards said. "A fact check would say they had nothing to do with it."

6 News heard this accusation from a Farragut High School senior, speaking out against Common Core at a recent Knox County school board meeting.

"The initiative seemed to spring from states when in reality it was contrived by an insular group of educational testing executives with only two academic content specialists," said Ethan Young.

Still, Edwards stands behind Common Core.

"When you read 'What are the Common Core standards,' most people, when they read that, their takeaway is 'I thought we were already doing that'," Edwards said.

For example, second grade math students should be able to count within 1,000; skip-count by fives, tens, and hundreds. Fourth grade readers need to determine the theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text and summarize the text.

"I believe the Common Core has actually helped us move us in the right direction," said Tanya Coats, president of the Knox County Education Association.

"When you hear the negativity, parents saying 'Well, my son or daughter has to write more. They have to interpret more,' well, you would hope that would prepare them to be life long learners," she said.

However, Coats said, Common Core is just one of many changes teachers are dealing with right now. 

"I just think the governor and Commissioner Huffman need to rethink how much they're putting on us," Coates said.

Gloria Johnson, a Knox County teacher and state representative, agrees.

"I just feel like we have we rolled it out too soon. I have more of an issue with implementation than Common Core itself," Johnson said.

The question is, what, if anything, can be done about it now?

"You know, I'm not sure. They should have asked us on the front end, asked us how to roll it out instead of asking us how to clean it up," Johnson said.

Students in Tennessee will begin taking the online PARCC test, based on Common Core standards instead of the TCAP during the 2014-15 school year.

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