Photo Credit: Sophie Poliquin / CC
Published August 25, 2021
The Tennessee Conservative Staff –
The State Board of Education is inviting residents to share their feedback on the Tennessee Academic Standards for science through Sunday, September 19, 2021.
Established in law in 2015, Tennessee’s process for updating academic standards on math, English language arts, social studies, and science is among the most transparent and comprehensive in the nation. This initial public survey on the science academic standards begins a year-long process that includes two rounds of public feedback and multiple committees of Tennessee educators.
“The Board is privileged to have the legislative charge of carrying out reviews for the math, science, English language arts, and social studies academic standards,” said Dr. Sara Morrison, executive director of the State Board of Education. “We eagerly await feedback from parents, teachers, and other community members on ways to improve our science standards that continue to prepare our students for success both in school and in their postsecondary and career plans.”
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The Tennessee Academic Standards for science include not only key facts and information about science, but also crosscutting concepts like examining cause and effect or using system models to understand a process. Science and engineering practices like analyzing and interpreting data and carrying out investigations are also integrated into the academic standards.
“Standards establish a baseline for what students should know and be able to do at the end of each course,” said Catherine Johnson, policy coordinator for the State Board and lead project manager for the standards review process. “Standards build on each other over time, so having clear standards that incorporate key practices of academic disciplines, like STEM practices in science, contributes to our students being prepared for high-demand careers in those fields.”
After the initial survey, teams of Tennessee educators from K-12 schools and higher education will review the comments and propose revisions. Early in 2022, the revisions will become available again for public input in a second survey. Following this second survey, the Standards Recommendation Committee — a public body appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor, and speaker of the House of Representatives, and confirmed by the general assembly— will review the proposed revisions and public comments and will deliberatively decide which standards to recommend to the State Board of Education for final adoption. These steps combine to permit input and vetting in a transparent and inclusive way.
Following a year of educator training and the adoption of aligned textbooks and instructional materials, the revised science standards will be implemented in the 2024-25 school year.
The State Board last received public comment on Tennessee’s science standards in 2016 and, following revision, approved the current standards in October 2016. During that review process, there were over 1,300 reviewers and 29,000 comments, each of which was considered by the educator advisory team as they updated the standards line-by-line.
An overview of the academic standards review process is available on the State Board of Education website.