Report Examines Changes To Civics Education In Tennessee

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tennessee students will soon have to apply the lessons they learn about civics in the classroom to “real world” situations – a major departure from years past.

Last year, the Tennessee General Assembly passed a law requiring school districts to assess students’ civic knowledge at least once in grades four through eight and at least once in grades nine through 12.  The legislation is significant, a new report from the Comptroller’s office suggests, because it is the first time the state has required any type of assessment for civics education.

The new civics assessments, which will begin in the current school year, differ from other state-mandated assessments in two important respects: (1) they will not be standardized tests developed by vendors according to state-determined specifications, but instead are to be developed and implemented by school districts, and (2) they are required to be “project-based,” which is education lingo for a more hands-on, practical approach to learning.

Project-based assessments differ considerably from the multiple choice format that dominates most standardized testing. Project-based learning involves student-driven projects that are both central to the curriculum and rooted in the real-life situations, involving complex tasks based on challenging questions or problems. Students work to develop solutions that could actually be used to address the issues they are studying. 

An example of a project-based approach to learning is Project Citizen, a program some Tennessee schools already use. In Project Citizen, students work together to identify problems in their communities, research those problems, consider possible alternatives, develop solutions in the form of public policies and petition local or state authorities to adopt those policies.

The Comptroller’s report cites research suggesting that project-based approaches in the classroom can result in more in-depth learning and better performance on complex tasks - outcomes that align with Tennessee’s recent education reform efforts to ramp up student expectations.

The report also provides an overview of the evolution of civics instruction in U.S. public schools, how civics is taught and tested in Tennessee schools and the implementation of the new project-based assessments for civics in Tennessee.

To view the full report online, go to: http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/OREA/


Lee’s Kicklighter Earns PhD

Lee University’s Dr. Taz Kicklighter has earned his doctorate in athletic training from Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions.  His dissertation, titled “A Holistic Investigation of Clinical Reasoning in Athletic Training,” discusses the measurement, understanding, and development of clinical reasoning ability in athletic trainers and athletic training students.  ... (click for more)

Alexander Says Biggest Barrier To Tennessee Promise Is "Ridiculously Complex Federal Student Aid Form”

Before an event Wednesday at the University School of Nashville, Senator Lamar Alexander said that the single biggest barrier to free college tuition for Tennessee high school graduates is a "ridiculously complex federal application form for student aid." Discussing his plan to simplify the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, Alexander said, “My goal is for ... (click for more)

Hutcheson Medical Center Takes New Cost-Cutting Measures

Hutcheson Medical Center has announced new cost-cutting measures as it tries to stop ongoing losses. A trustee has asked that the Fort Oglethorpe hospital's bankruptcy process be dissolved, saying it has accumulated over five million in debt during the 10 months it has been in bankruptcy. The board of directors for Hutcheson Medical Center voted Wednesday evening to suspend ... (click for more)

East Ridge Council Rejects Bids For Road Work For Bass Pro Shop Development; All Are Above $3 Million

The Bass Pro Shop development at East Ridge has hit another snag as all bids for road projects at Exit 1 and Camp Jordan Parkway came in above the $3 million estimate.   On Thursday night, Mayor Brent Lambert said the city had pledged to build a “fairly vanilla road,” and made a motion to reject all the bids. He said that the street should be “value engineered” because ... (click for more)

Vote To Save Graduate Medical Education Funding

As a resident physician at UT College of Medicine Chattanooga, I know first-hand the impact Medicare financing for Graduate Medical Education has on physician education and access to care for patients in our community and communities all over the country.  GME funding provides medical school graduates the opportunity to complete the required years of clinical residency training ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Quaker Oats & Stuff

Some genius in the Quaker Oats marketing department came up with a novel idea last summer with the theme: “What if you had the chance to do something you have always wanted to do … but you had to start today?” Somehow Michael Hope and his family – that includes three children – got to be interviewed and, when his 10-year-old daughter Lauren was asked, she said she always wanted ... (click for more)