Tennessee kindergarten through 12th-grade students will be facing new and tougher curriculum standards this year in an effort to get them on par academically with their peers nationwide.
Starting in the fall, the state Department of Education will require students to take math all four years of high school instead of just three. They also will have end-of-the-year course exams, which will account for 25 percent of a student's overall course grade.
Younger pupils also will be affected. Teachers will be teaching curriculum material one grade earlier than they have in the past, so for example, what was being taught in third-grade math will now be taught in second grade.
"Our standards were way too easy," said Rachel Woods, spokeswoman for the state Department of Education. "We were not teaching students and we were not requiring them to learn what their peers nationally were learning. This (the new standards) rectifies that situation."
Other changes - in the form of new directors of schools - have also come to individual East Tennessee school districts within the last year, including Knox and Union counties.
In spring 2008, the Knox County school board hired Jim McIntyre as the school system's new superintendent. McIntyre, formerly chief operating officer for Boston Public Schools, took the helm July 7.
On Feb. 12 of this year, the Union County Board of Education appointed Wayne Goforth as the school system's new director of schools. Goforth had been interim director since August. His prior duties included kindergarten through fifth-grade coordinator and media spokesman.
Some area schools and districts are now considering new dress requirements for students.
Anderson County school officials are discussing a uniform dress code that they say could level the playing field for students and reduce discipline problems.
Encouraged by the success this school year of a dress code at the county's alternative school, officials are studying the startup of a similar program for next year, either systemwide or at pilot schools.
In Knox County, at least 21 schools also are considering adopting their own dress requirements. If approved by the school board, it would be effective this fall.
The schools were influenced by Austin-East and Fulton high schools, the first in Knox County to implement color-coded dress requirements. Their changes were part of curriculum redesigns at the schools prompted by the federal No Child Left Behind law.
Lola Alapo may be reached at 865-342-6376.
© 2009, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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