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/


Austin Peay President To Speak At Lee’s Spring Commencement

Lee alumna and President of Austin Peay State University Dr. Alisa White will deliver the address at Lee University’s spring commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 6, at 9:30 a.m. on the lawn of the Science and Math Complex (SMC).   Dr. White is an advocate for high-impact higher education practices that promote student success. She has served as a consultant for city governments ... (click for more)

Signal Students Honored For Academic Success By Duke TIP

Several Signal Mountain students are among a select group being honored by the Duke University Talent Identification Program (Duke TIP) for their exceptional scores on the ACT college admission test. Seventh graders from Signal Mountain Middle School took the actual ACT on a Saturday morning in February alongside high school juniors, according to Jamie Brock, teacher of the ... (click for more)

2 People Shot In Chattanooga Overnight; Dequan Duke In Serious Condition; Frank Russell Has Minor Injury

Two people were shot overnight in Chattanooga.   Dequan Jamal Duke, 24, was in serious condition.   Frank Russell, 22, had a minor injury in a separate incident.   Chattanooga Police responded at 8:40 p.m. on Tuesday to a person shot at 2300 Wilson St.   The victim, Dequan Duke, arrived at a local hospital via a personally owned vehicle ... (click for more)

City Vows Lincoln Park To Be Preserved Despite Major Road, Sewer Projects

City officials vowed on Tuesday that Lincoln Park will be preserved despite a major road extension and sewer relocation planned nearby. Maura Sullivan, the city's chief operating officer, said the Trust for Public Land will hold public meetings geared around ideas for refurbishing the African-American park that once featured ball fields, a swimming pool and other attractions. ... (click for more)

Don't Clog Up The Last Remaining Semi-Unobstructed Route Into Town From North Of The River - And Response

The proposal to turn Hixson Pike in Riverview into a more pedestrian friendly street is more than absurd.   Let's be honest. This is the last semi-unobstructed route into town from north of the river, due to I-27 construction and the bike lane/parking lot that is North Market Street.  So, now the businesses in Riverview would like parking on this main artery? ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A One-Sided Opportunity

State education commissioner Candace McQueen has apparently fallen and hit her head. She most certainly needs to be examined after she came to Chattanooga on Monday and told the Times-Free Press about an exciting “partnership.” Are you kidding me? Despite the newspaper’s editors actually touting the venture as “promising,” the lady is clearly dancing by herself. With her Achievement ... (click for more)