State Board of Education gives final OK to new social studies standards

News release from State Board of Education

NASHVILLE – Today, the State Board of Education voted unanimously on final reading to approve new, Tennessee-specific academic standards for social studies.

The new Tennessee Academic Standards for Social Studies will be implemented in classrooms in the 2019-20 school year. This multi-year, comprehensive review involved teams of Tennessee educators, subject matter experts, higher education faculty, state history and geography organizations, and multiple public comment opportunities, ensuring that all Tennesseans had a voice throughout the process.

“These new social studies standards provide a strong foundation for our students, due in part to incredible participation from educators and Tennesseans across the state in the review process,” said Dr. Sara Morrison, executive director of the State Board of Education. “Standards point the way for high-quality instruction in the classroom, which is our ultimate goal.”

 The K-12 social studies standards were first considered in April 2017. Between first and final reading, the draft standards were revised according to feedback received from a variety of stakeholders and to align with recent legislative action affecting social studies. The 110th Tennessee General Assembly passed the Senator Douglas Henry Tennessee History Act, mandating that a Tennessee history course be taught in grades K-12. This legislative action, Public Chapter 482, prompted further changes to the draft standards to ensure full compliance with the law.

The social studies standards review process began with an initial online review period beginning in January 2016 that brought in nearly 64,000 reviews and 15,000 individual comments. A committee of Tennessee social studies educators then analyzed each individual standard to update or revise them based on the public feedback and their classroom expertise. That set of revised standards was posted a second time for public review in September 2016. The shorter review period brought in nearly 54,000 reviews and 10,000 comments.

 The Standards Recommendation Committee (SRC), whose members were appointed by the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Speaker of the House of Representatives and confirmed by the General Assembly, reviewed the second round of public feedback and worked tirelessly to review each grade level’s standards from September 2016 through March 2017. The SRC presented their draft standards to the State Board of Education in April 2017.

Tennessee’s comprehensive standards review process was initiated in October 2014, when Governor Haslam announced the creation of a standards review website that would be open to the public to review and offer feedback on what Tennessee students should know and be able to do by the end of each K-12 school year in both mathematics and English language arts (ELA). This process was further expounded upon by the 109th Tennessee General Assembly in Pub. Ch. 423, which charged the State Board of Education with overseeing not only the review of math and ELA standards but also science and social studies standards.

You can find the standards here.

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Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.
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