The Clarksville Montgomery County School System in partnership with the Montgomery County Education Foundation, Tennessee Score, Austin Peay State University, and the Clarksville-Montgomery County Home Builders Association held “Raising the Bar for Students in Tennessee” an event where community leaders and elected officials gathered to hear information about the state’s new standards and assessments and their impact on students.
Tennessee is raising the bar for student achievement with higher academic standards in the classroom. The higher standards will help us make sure students are ready for college or for a career when they graduate from high school. That means the students not only master the basics like reading and math, but also developing skills that colleges and employers value – like communications, problem solving and teamwork.
Times have changed. Thirty-five years ago, just 28% of U.S. Jobs required training or education after high school. Today it is more like 80%. That means that it is important to shift the focus to give Tennessee Students the tools they need to succeed in high school and beyond. Meeting the new standards is not a one year project, it is a culture change.
But higher standards also mean harder tests, and may result in lower test scores and grades for students in the near term. This is where the education reform efforts get hard and where students, parents, educators and communities need our full support to press forward.
What it comes down to is that if your child is rated “Basic,” or “Below Basic” in any subject on the TCAP test; they need help.
The most important thing is not to get discouraged. It is common for test scores and grades to sometimes dip when schools enact the required higher standards. This doesn’t mean that your child is going backwards in knowledge, but it does mean that they need to work harder to catch up to the higher standards which are more demanding.
The next step is to ask for help. Call your child’s teacher or school and together with the to put together a plan to help them improve. Parental Involvement is critical to helping a child achieve more. Schedule a time to sit down with the teacher and talk through your options. Meeting the higher standards probably means more catch-up lessons for your child at school, and more homework at night. They will need your support.
“Tennessee voters are understandably cautious yet hopeful about the prospects for education reform,” said former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who chairs SCORE. “They are clear in their support for high standards in the classroom, even if it means some discomfort as students and families have to adjust to more rigorous coursework and homework.”
“Educational reform is something that CMCSS been focused on for the last 10 years.” According to CMCSS Director of Schools Michael Harris. This drive for excellence has been enhanced by the Tennessee being named one of the first recipients of “Race to the Top” funding. This has enabled the school district to create the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) academy at Kenwood High School.
In 2007, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, representing America’s top employers, gave Tennessee a failing grade for a lack of high standards in the classroom. We were giving graduates diplomas that implied they were ready for employment or college when many of them weren’t adequately prepared.
Rather than shy away from this report or contest its findings, Tennessee responded with a full-court press to raise the bar so a high school diploma means what it should: that graduates are ready for whatever job or college they will enter, and their options aren’t limited because they weren’t provided the foundation that they need to succeed.
Research has found that the skills required to be ready for college are about the same skills required to succeed and advance in the career and technical workforce.
If I had A Hammer
A demonstration of hands-on learning was given with the assistance of students from Moore Magnet Elementary for Math, Science and Technology. The students work together to built a miniature house under the instruction of If I Had a Hammer Foundation CEO, Perry Wilson. The finished product – a free-standing house complete with windows, door, and a front porch – is the result of team work, communication, and the real-life application of math and science concepts.
The If I Had a Hammer Foundation holds three basic beliefs regarding education:
- Every child can learn if engaged properly.
- Success is available to every child.
- Children need to understand the value of education as a foundation for their lives.
By showing a child how math works in the real world, Hammer is engaging them in a way that no conventional textbook approach can match. The students also listened from Perry Wilson on topics including:
- The importance of mathematics in life
- How to calculate
- How to Measure
- Why it is important to build your life on a good foundation
- Why making good choices is important, especially where drugs and gangs are concerned
- Work ethic and career goals