THE TENNESSEAN: Bill Frist-led group continues support of Common Core
Report: Plan is ‘path to success’ for TN students
January 28, 2014
Topping the priorities of a Bill Frist-led education advocacy group in its latest report is the item it has trumpeted for months in Tennessee: stay the course on Common Core.
“Tennessee’s commitment to high standards ensures that we’re putting our students on the path to success,” Frist, former U.S. Senate majority leader and founder of the State Collaborative on Reforming Education, told a crowd in Nashville Monday for the release of his group’s 2013-14 report.
Frist is aligned with fellow Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, who has remained steadfast in support for Common Core and its companion Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career test. Tennessee school districts are implementing the curriculum and its test overhaul for next fall, but the changes must overcome resistance from a faction of conservatives in the Tennessee General Assembly.
SCORE, a nonpartisan nonprofit whose steering committee is stacked with Common Core backers, has turned into Tennessee’s biggest cheerleader for the new curriculum, which 44 other states already have adopted.
Some Republican lawmakers are pushing legislation to halt the implementation of Common Core, as well as a separate bill that would delay it and the PARCC test.
“Now is not the time to lose a sense of urgency,” Frist said Monday, arguing that Tennessee is at a crossroad in public education.
In the report, SCORE also recommended strengthening schools through effective leadership. The group has called on the Tennessee General Assembly to consider mandating an annual evaluation of principal preparation programs.
According to Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman, a handful of Tennessee school districts are taking part in a new pilot program that is exploring new criteria in state-mandated principal evaluations.
The SCORE report applauds Tennessee’s historic National Assessment of Educational Progress gains, released in November, but notes that the state still lags far behind in metrics such as the ACT college entrance exam.
A counter parent-led group, Tennesseans Reclaiming Educational Excellence, held a separate press event Monday in which its guest speaker sought to give a “reality check” on those NAEP scores. Elaine Weiss, national coordinator for the campaign Broader Bolder Approach to Education, said it does not reflect a full snapshot of achievement here and that wide “opportunity gaps” between demographics remain.