Teaching to the Test



[Here's something of a sneak peek for this week's upcoming In the Bluff column on the new educational standards for Tennessee students.]

The NYT reported last week that roughly 40 states have aligned (or are in the process of aligning) their state educational standards with national standards:

The quick adoption of common standards for what students should learn in English and math each year from kindergarten through high school is attributable in part to the Obama administration’s Race to the Top competition. States that adopt the standards by Aug. 2 win points in the competition for a share of the $3.4 billion to be awarded in September.

“I’m ecstatic,” said Arne Duncan, the secretary of education. “This has been the third rail of education, and the fact that you’re now seeing half the nation decide that it’s the right thing to do is a game-changer.”

Phil Bredesen
  • Phil Bredesen
Locally, Tennessee governor Phil Bredesen and former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist were in town last week to warn parents and community members that new state standards could have a drastic impact on student proficiency levels.

"No one is against high standards," Bredesen said. "Where the rubber meets the road is when you have to live up to them."

But they hope that the new expectations will lead to higher levels of student achievement and, in the future, economic growth.

"The issue itself is education, but taking a step back," Frist said, "it's a huge social issue. It's a huge economic issue."


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