Curriculum and Standards
The FSSD follows the Tennessee Academic Standards for all courses in all schools. Tennessee’s curriculum standards were revised in 2008 and are considered among the most rigorous in the nation. Although Tennessee had raised at least a portion of its academic standards by 2009, there was still work to be done to develop better, more nationally consistent standards. Joining nearly every other state in the development and implementation of new standards in mathematics and English/language arts, Tennessee took a further step to enhance the quality of instruction and learning for its students. After two years of partial implementation, the FSSD fully implemented the Tennessee State Standards in E/LA and Math in the 2013-2014 school year.
Here are some key facts about the Tennessee State Standards:
- The Tennessee State Standards are expectations for student outcomes in the core subjects of mathematics, reading/language arts, social studies, and science.
- They are clear, consistent, understandable and rigorous.
- The Tennessee State Standards are not curriculum. Curriculum decisions, like which textbooks to purchase and which books students should read, will continue to be made locally.
- The standards focus on the real-world skills and critical thinking that will prepare students for college and careers.
- The effort to create the standards was a state-led initiative, and Tennessee has been involved from the beginning.
Why are these standards important?
- They are internationally competitive and based on research about what it takes to be prepared for college courses and entry level jobs that lead to careers.
- The standards are clear and demanding. This change allows teachers time to teach and explore fewer but more focused topics in more depth than they have been able to in the past.
- The skills students are learning and the abilities they are gaining are those needed for success in today’s workforce. Whether in manufacturing or research, job applicants need critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork skills to succeed.
- The new standards are more rigorous, and students are learning important concepts in earlier grades.
- This is different from the previous standards, which sometimes placed an importance on memorization for a test instead of real understanding.
- Now, students learn important concepts in earlier grades and build on those each year.
- Beginning this school year, new tests will measure learning under the standards.
- Ultimately, the Tennessee State Standards should help better prepare students for success in postsecondary and the workforce.
The Tennessee State Standards require a deeper engagement with a smaller number of standards. These standards require new approaches to teaching, and students should expect enhanced rigor in their courses. Specifically, students will be required to master more critical thinking and problem-solving skills. However, FSSD teachers are well prepared to teach the standards so students can master the concepts and achieve success. The goals of the Tennessee State Standards are: student achievement at high levels of proficiency on national assessments and state assessments, aligned assessments at the school level, and professional learning activities that support both with the ultimate goal of graduating every child college- and career-ready. The FSSD provides its teaching staff with many professional learning opportunities and its students with remediation alternatives when gaps are discovered through local assessment. “We embrace the challenge as we strive to meet the state’s proficiency goals and to prepare our students for the best high school and college opportunities in the nation,” said Director of Schools, Dr. David Snowden.
- Illustrative Mathematics: This site illustrates the range and types of mathematical work that students experience in a faithful implementation of the Tennessee State Standards. It provides great examples and practice problems that support the State math standards.
- TN Ready: The state’s online information center about the new and improved TCAP test for English language arts and math in grades 3-11.
- Expect More, Achieve More Coalition, a statewide alliance of business, community, and education organizations in Tennessee that supports high academic standards in public education.
- Read Tennessee: This website provides a “toolkit” to help parents understand what is happening in their children’s kindergarten through third-grade classrooms and how parents and teachers can be partners in education. Major areas of focus in child development – Social and Emotional, Physical, Speech and Language, and Thinking and Learning – are discussed (K-3, English and Spanish).