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New education standards being implemented
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Copper Basin High School held a community meeting last week discussing the new Education Standards adopted by the State of Tennessee.

By Emily Dilbeck

Copper Basin High School held a community meeting last week discussing the new Education Standards adopted by the State of Tennessee. These standards are part of a program called “Expect More, Achieve more” created by the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE). Dr. Jared Bigham, Principal of CBHS, gave a presentation explaining the new core standards and how these would affect the High School directly.

Bigham said over the past few years Copper Basin had not been preparing its students in the manner best fitting them. Some students, he added, were not ready for college and needed help finding a post-graduation plan that would be more suited for their needs. He said it was a blessing and a curse that so many scholarships were given to graduating seniors, but that many of them simply were not prepared for college and did not remain enrolled for a long period of time.

He explained these new standards would allow Copper Basin to focus in on each student and prepare them better for a technical career and a transition into the workforce, rather than simply pushing them to graduate.

Copper Basin has already begun implementing several new polices to further their goal of job preparedness. College days have been exchanged for vocational days, where students tour area factories and learn from manufacturers what exactly they will need to get a job. Students are also learning how to apply for jobs. Bigham said this was especially important, because he had heard stories in the past about students who went to companies like Volkswagen to apply, but couldn’t make it past the parking lot because they were intimidated by the process. This new program works towards demystifying the application process and helping students prepare a resume that will allow them to pursue the career path that best suits them.

Bigham added that even manufacturing companies like Volkswagen require a 19 minimum ACT score for job applicants, and that all students needed to be properly prepared for SAT and ACT testing, rather than just those who planned to pursue secondary education. “Jobs must coincide with Academic achievement,” he stressed.

David Mansouri of SCORE explained that his organization is a non-profit, non-partisan education group that focuses directly on K-12 education. SCORE’s goal is to improve student achievement through the “Expect More, Achieve More” coalition.

The new Academic Standards adopted by the State to help foster this program are what each student should know, in each class, in each grade. He added, “What it comes down to is that a great education means a great job.”

SCORE hopes to help prepare students for the 21st century global workplace. Mansouri added, “[Students] aren’t just competing against kids in Chattanooga or Cleveland, they’re competing against kids in Shanghai.” He said these standards weren’t even for jobs like becoming Doctors or Attorneys, but preparedness for the growing competition to get manufacturing jobs.

Mansouri went on to explain these new standards for education, dubbed “Common Core State Standards”, put an emphasis on Math and English. No longer will students simply memorize formulas; they will begin to use critical thinking skills to explain why and how something works.

Bigham said teachers will no longer simply teach towards a test, but will begin to use lesson plans to foster critical thinking and better understanding.

Mansouri added that each year students will build upon concepts they learned in previous years, creating a foundation in order to get jobs in the future. He said he had recently talked to a Supervisor at Nissan who said it was hard for him to find line workers with the critical thinking skills necessary to complete the jobs. SCORE believes these new standards will create future workers who have these skills.

Bigham concluded by saying that those present in the audience, business owners and community officials, could aid the School foster these standards by helping guide students through the job process and allowing them to see the opportunities available to them in their own hometown.

Both Copper Basin High School and Elementary hope to have these standards fully implemented over the next two years. In conjunction with the change in standards, students in grades K-12 will begin taking their TCAP tests online, rather than on paper. This, Bigham said, will allow for faster results and give teachers the ability to quickly see a student’s problem area. It is also his hope that eventually every student will have an iPad, allowing them to use eBooks and online testing to prepare themselves for the future.

 

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