The students at Indian Trail Intermediate School had a special guest in the audience Tuesday, Governor Bill Haslam stopped at the school to talk about Common Core standards, a set of expectations for math and English courses designed to help students get ready for college and careers.
“I think in its very essence it's helping students to think critically so they're not just memorizing answers but they're understanding concepts and contexts," says Haslam.
Haslam talked with school leaders about Common Core, the pros, the cons, and what teachers think of the changes.
The reason he stopped at a Johnson City school, teachers there have already made the switch to Common Core.
"We are preparing students to be great readers but also great writers and we feel like the common core standards really enhances the expectation that all people must be able to read and write in a very clear, analytical way," Debra Bentley, Supervisor of instruction and communications for Johnson City Schools.
But not everyone is on board with the changes. Just last week the House voted to delay Common Core standards by two years and that raises concerns for Haslam.
"When you hear repeatedly we need to raise the quality of our workforce and you hear from professional educators this is doing it, we're teaching students to think. and what I hear from employers is we want students who, employees who know how to think it makes me think why in the world would we turn around particularly right now when we're the fastest improving school system in the country,” adds Haslam.
Before the bill gets to the Haslam’s desk it has to go to the Senate first.
Until the schools in Johnson City hear otherwise I’m told teachers here are staying on track with the Common Core.
45 states and Washington D. C. have adopted Common Core standards.
Virginia has not. In 2010 the Virginia Board of Education decided to stick with its standards of learning or SOL's because they feel they’re more rigorous than Common Core.