TN teachers trained on new 'common core' standards - WSMV News 4

TN teachers trained on new 'common core' standards

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Tennessee education officials are training teachers from across the state on how to implement a new set of uniform benchmarks for math and reading.

Education Department spokeswoman Kelli Gauthier says more than 30,000 teachers have signed up to be trained on the common core state standards over the next six weeks. Training sessions began on Tuesday.

The standards, which 45 states and the District of Columbia are adopting, are described as a set of higher expectations in math and English that include more critical thinking and problem solving.

"It's going to require our children to think and problem solve, so they are going to be able to talk about their answers. They are going to be able to challenge each other," said Sharon Cooksey, with the Franklin Special School District.

The standards are designed to make students more college and career ready. That means focusing on critical thinking and problem solving. For instance, instead of breezing through fractions in a week, it would be a deeper look at how fractions are used every day.

"They are going to be very application-based. You are going to be putting that into a real-life problem. And, yes, we know that 4 plus 4 is 8, and that's the correct answer, but there are many ways to reach that answer," Cooksey said.

There has been a groundswell of controversy nationwide involving the standards. Some believe it's watering down standards, while others believe it's a step toward a national curriculum.

State lawmakers are even planning to hold hearings late this summer on common core standards, but those doing the training are trying to put those fears to rest.

"There's a lot of misinformation out there, and I think there's a lot of rumor and some fear toward them. They are not anything to be afraid of," Cooksey said.

Even teachers admit to having some qualms, and more knowledge about them has put those fears to rest.

"The training is wonderful, because it clears up a lot of misconceptions that I had about common core and how to implement it in instruction and student activities," said Maury County math teacher Angela Secrest.

The training comes at the same time a report is released by the National Council on Teacher Quality that says the nation's teacher-training programs do not adequately prepare would-be educators for the classroom.

Out of the more than 1,000 programs surveyed, Vanderbilt University and Lipscomb University were among only four programs that received four stars.

Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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