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Tennessee Let The Public Spend 6 Months Reviewing Common Core. What They Said May Surprise You

Tennessee’s massive six-month public inquiry into the state’s Common Core standards has finally wrapped up, and according to an early analysis, most people who participated ended up expressing support for Common Core.

In response to concerns from some parents, educators and politicians over Common Core, last November Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam launched a website that allowed any state resident to read through the standards and review individual pieces of them. Participants were allowed to say “keep it,” “replace it,” or “remove it” to particular standards, and if they wanted a standard to be eliminated they were allowed to explain why in a comment.

Overall, 2,262 Tennesseans participated in the review process before it ended April 30, including 1,164 teachers, 320 parents, 141 school administrators, 15 K-12 students, and 94 other “community members.” According to Chalkbeat Tennessee, these participants logged 131,424 total reviews and 20,344 comments.

Of the reviews, about 73,000 (56 percent) said “keep it” on the standard in question, indicating that overall, most of Common Core was regarded as worth keeping.

Which standards triggered the most opposition, and what comments were made about them, isn’t public information currently. Nor is it known how sentiment may have broken down among individual groups.

Obviously, with just a few thousand self-selected participants, the review process hardly reflects an accurate poll of how Tennesseans think. Critics of Common Core could point out that teachers, who overall have supported Common Core more than the rest of the population, made up more than half the sample. On the other hand, Common Core supporters could point out that the grassroots opposition to Common Core may be quite limited if only a few hundred parents were willing to go to the review website to register their displeasure.

The reviews could play a significant role in Tennessee, as Haslam just signed a bill to reform Common Core in the state. The bill requires that Tennessee create a new set of state-specific standards by the 2017 school year. However, the law doesn’t say what the standards are supposed to look like, leaving the possibility that they could be extremely similar to Common Core. Similar outcomes have been seen in other states like South Carolina and Indiana, where Common Core was successfully repealed only to be replaced by new standards that are nearly identical. (RELATED: Common Core Is Dead In South Carolina… Or Is It?)

Now that the review period is over, the public comments will be compiled into data reports that will be used by the education committees deciding on new standards.

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