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/


Commissioner McQueen Announces Special Task Force On Student Testing And Assessment

Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced the formation of a special Tennessee Task Force on Student Testing and Assessment to study and identify best practices in testing at the school level and how those assessments align with required state tests. “We have heard some concerns that there is ‘too much testing’ taking place. So as education leaders and stakeholders, ... (click for more)

Cleveland City Schools Have Several Upcoming Activities

Cleveland City Schools  Board of Education Meeting  will be  Monday, March 2, 5:30 pm  at the Administrative Office Building Board Room.  For more information contact Andrea Byerly,  423-472-9571 ,  abyerly@clevelandschools.org   Cleveland High School's  6th Annual Raider Outreach Day  is  Tuesday, March 3 ... (click for more)

Person Shot On Sylvan Drive And Later Dies; Involved In Crash On North Market Street

Chattanooga Police said one person was shot on Sylvan Drive on Monday night and later was involved in a two-vehicle crash in the 700 block of N. Market Street. That person was dead at North Market. One other person involved in the crash was taken by ambulance to a local hospital. A third person was also injured. That person was in stable condition and did not need ... (click for more)

Tennessee Temple University To Close After Almost 70 Years

Tennessee Temple University, after almost 70 years in operation in Highland Park, is set to close after this semester. Trustees are set to vote on Tuesday morning to merge Temple with Piedmont International University of Winston-Salem, N.C. Students who are not graduating this semester would have the option to continue their education there. Bryan College in Dayton, Tn., and ... (click for more)

Tennessee Deserves Better Health Reform

Tennessee needs health care reform. Expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare," was not the best solution for Tennesseans. That is why the vast majority of Tennessee legislators never publicly supported the plan defeated in a special legislative session in February.   It is important to distinguish health care from health insurance. As one physician ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Cameras Or Subterfuge?

State Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden) is an easy-to-like member of the Tennessee Legislature and the fact he is teaming with state senator Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga) to rid the state of its loathsome traffic cameras is indeed a wonderful thing. The legislative action is long overdue, with the biggest winners being the out-of-state camera companies. That alone is just about all you ... (click for more)