More than 100 business, community, and education organizations across Tennessee today launched an effort to support high academic standards in K-12 public education. This group, the Expect More, Achieve More coalition, seeks to build statewide and local awareness of Tennessee’s ongoing effort to raise expectations in the classroom through the Common Core State Standards.

“One of the most important things we have done to improve public education in Tennessee is to raise our expectations,” said former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Chairman of the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) a coalition member. “Far too many students are graduating from high school unprepared for further education or for the workforce. By raising the bar through higher academic standards we help ensure that every student in Tennessee graduates ready for the future.”

Standards are the knowledge and skills that students are expected to learn in each grade and subject. In 2010, Tennessee took an important step in raising the bar by adopting the Common Core State Standards. These standards focus on more critical thinking and problem solving skills and students learn important concepts in earlier grades, building on those concepts each year. These higher standards were implemented in grades K-2 (math and English/language arts) in the 2011-12 school year, and are being implemented in 3-8th grade math this school year.

“A good education means better job prospects,” said Miles Burdine, President and CEO at the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce, a coalition member. “In today’s economy, competition for jobs comes not just from across town but from around the world. The skills and knowledge students will learn with these new standards are those needed for success in today’s workforce.”

Seven of the 10 fastest growing jobs in Tennessee require education beyond high school. Currently, only 16 percent of students in Tennessee meet college readiness benchmarks on the ACT in English, math, reading, and science.

Over the next year, the Expect More, Achieve More coalition will focus on arming parents, educators, students, and community members with the tools they need to ensure all students graduate ready for success. Numerous resources are available, including:

  • A Common Cause, a five-minute video narrated by education stakeholders in Tennessee, which explains what the Common Core State Standards are and how they fit in with Tennessee’s other education reform efforts
  •, an online resource that includes specific information for parents, teachers, and community members
  • A brochure, which is being distributed across the state, to provide parents and community members with clear information on the new standards

“As an educator, I know that parental involvement is an important part of helping a child achieve more,” said Pennye Thurmond, Principal at Ripley Elementary, part of Lauderdale County Schools which is a coalition member. “Engaging and educating parents and communities about academic standards is critical.”

“Raising the bar and expecting more is hard work, particularly for students and teachers,” said Karen Davis, President of the Tennessee PTA, a coalition member. “New standards mean new ways of teaching and learning in classrooms, and ultimately harder tests. But in Tennessee, we are up to the challenge.”

A full list of coalition members, as of September 11, is available here. The coalition includes school districts, leaders in state government, businesses, philanthropic and civic organizations, and institutions of higher education. The coalition will continue to add members throughout the Fall of 2012.