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/


Former Crockett County Schools Technology Director Indicted

Special agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation have obtained indictments for the former Crockett County School System Technology director, charging the Halls man with theft, tampering with evidence and official misconduct. At the request of 28 th  District Attorney General Garry Brown, TBI special agents, working in conjunction with investigators with the Tennessee ... (click for more)

ChattState SkillsUSA Students Earn National Medals

Chattanooga State’s Tennessee College of Applied Technology students brought home four medals – three gold and one bronze – during the annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Ky Students earning gold medals in Job Demonstration were Tiffany Hammond, Wildwood; model Kristyn Huskey, Pikeville; and Renee Richardson, advisor. A gold medal in Mechatronics ... (click for more)

Thousands Line Route For Funeral Procession Of Sailor Slain In Chattanooga Shooting; Wife Sings Song At Funeral She Was Singing When They Met

Thousands of people waving flags and signs again lined the streets and highways of Chattanooga for the second of two local funerals for military personnel slain by a gunman on July 16. And at the funeral service for Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Scott Smith, his wife, Angie, sang the song she was singing the first time they met. She said she was singing "You say it best when ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Man Who Declared He Was "An Innocent Man" On Child Pornography Charges Gets Conviction, 24-Year Sentence Overturned

The Federal Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed the conviction of a Chattanooga man who claimed at his trial and sentencing that he was wrongfully convicted by a jury of possession and distribution of child pornography. James Paul Lowe had been sentenced in May to serve 24 years in federal prison. After the sentencing, he had bid his family goodbye and told them to ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Strong

The hearts, minds and prayers of Tennesseans, and of the entire nation, have been turned toward Chattanooga this month.  We are sickened and saddened by the senseless tragedy, and we grieve for the families of the five service members who were killed, Gunnery Sgt. Thomas J. Sullivan, Sgt. Carson A. Holmquist, Lance Cpl. Squire “Skip” K. Wells, Staff Sgt. David A. Wyatt and ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Could Obama Win Again?

When President Barack Obama spoke to the African Union yesterday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, he made a pretty brash statement: “I actually think I’m a pretty good president,” he told the African leaders. “I think if I ran, I could win. But I can’t.” While everyone is entitled to their opinion, I don’t think that’s true. Obviously, term limits keep Obama from running, but as I sit ... (click for more)