Tennessee Diploma Project - Gary Nixon


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  • Art- Hello, and welcome. I’m your host, Art Fuller. We’re here with Dr. Gary Nixon, Executive Director of the State Board of Education and Dr. Connie Smith, Assistant Commissioner for Teacher and learning and accountability in the State Department of Education. They’re going to spend a few minutes with us and give us an overview of recent changes to the requirements for high school graduation here in Tennessee. Dr. Nixon and Dr. Smith, thank you for joining us. Gary- It’s my pleasure Art. Connie- I’m gland to share this important information. Art- Dr. Smith, how are Tennessee students doing today? Connie- Tennessee schools are doing a better job than ever before and students are achieving at higher levels than in years past, but it’s simply not enough. Other have moved forward and we cannot afford to stand by and let competing states and countries leave us behind. (advance to slide 2)
  • Gary- If you look at the most recent data available it paints a very sobering picture. One hundred students start ninth grade, but these numbers quickly change. These figures have truly captured the attention of the State Board and other decision makers in the state and have been key in informing the decisions to implement changes. Art- One hundred 9 th graders should produce 100 High School graduates, right? (advance to slide 3)
  • Gary- After 4 years, only 63 of these same 100 9 th graders walk across the graduation stage on time. Some finish later by way of GED or adult high school, but way too many simply drop out without completing the graduation requirements. Connie- It’s easy to believe that many of these students don’t finish high school because it’s too hard, but that’s just not the case. Many students are simply not engaged and they become bored and eventually just drift out of school. Art- Those are some very serious numbers. What about those who do complete high school? (advance to slide 4)
  • Gary- Of those that graduate a relatively strong number of them go on directly to either a 4-year university or a community college . This shows that many students truly desire to put themselves in a position to be self-sufficient adults and attain the “American Dream”. Art- Well, that’s over half of the graduates. How do they do once they are there? (advance to slide 5)
  • Connie- Many students obviously want to go to college. While 38 students go, 11 do not return for a second year. This is a very telling statistic. It shows that a high number of students simply aren’t ready for the demands of college. (advance to slide 6)
  • Gary- Seventeen of those original 9 th graders will complete a degree within 150% of the time. That’s 3 years for an associate’s degree or 6 years for a bachelor’s degree. Art- What about the others? Connie- Hopefully they enroll into some type of workforce training program that prepares them to get a high skilled, high wage job. All students need to develop a skill set that prepares them to get a job that allows them to sustain a family of four. (advance to slide 7)
  • Gary- This graph clearly shows that 2/3 of jobs being created will require some type of postsecondary training. There just aren’t many jobs today for those who only have a high school diploma or worse- those who drop out. Art- Are you saying that everyone needs to go to college? Gary- Not necessarily. We know the reading and math skills necessary to be successful on the jobsite are almost the exact same skills that are necessary to be successful in the first year of college. Art- So workforce ready and college ready are the same level of readiness? Gary- Exactly. Students need to have real choices when they graduate, and a strong education allows them to choose training between a Tennessee technology center, a community college, a university, or other postsecondary program. (advance to slide 8)
  • Art- How many are getting there now? How many are really prepared for college and the workforce? Connie- Not nearly enough. These are the ACT subject area scores necessary to have a 75% chance of earning a C in college courses. In 2008 only 18 percent of Tennessee graduates met all of ACT’s Benchmarks for Success; that’ s about 1 out of 6. These are very important numbers and I can’t emphasize them enough. Art- How can that be? We have so many students that are proficient on all of those TCAP and Gateway exams. I’m having a tough time believing that these students aren’t ready for the next step. (advance to slide 9)
  • Connie- I really gets back to how you define “proficient.” Tennessee has one of the largest gaps between the national definition and our own state definition of this term. (advance to slide 10)
  • Connie- In other words, we’ve defined proficiency to mean “passing.” In many cases this term has given students and parents a false sense of security. They are working under the belief that they are ready for the next level when thay really are not. Art- Shouldn’t that be the case? Gary- It will be now. (advance to slide 11)
  • Gary- Tennessee has joined with many other states in the American Diploma Project. This is a network of states who have rededicated themselves to aligning the curriculum with the demands of a well-educated workforce; raising the rigor, especially in math and English; and making sure that students are assessed in a way that gives them and their parents feedback about how they are truly doing. Art- It sounds like this means that the curriculum is being revised. Connie- It’ really three things. First, getting the courses right by redesigning the curriculum and tying it to things like the ACT, the SAT, and other national measures. Second, getting students into the right courses and making sure they don’t have an opportunity to do less than they re capable of doing. And third, keeping track of student achievement and seeing that they get the help they need to be successful. We call this T.D.P.- the Tennessee Diploma Project. (advance to slide 12)
  • Connie- All of this means that big changes are on the way. Not only will students be taking more courses in order to graduate, they courses themselves will be more rigorous. Students, teachers, parents, everyone will have to work harder than ever, but it’s important to go this because every student deserves a top quality education. In the past there were 20 state-mandated credits for graduation; now there are 2 more. Local school districts may even have additional requirements on top of these. Also, in the past we had an assessment called the Gateway. It has been replaced by a new, more challenging exam that will be factored in as part of the student’s yearly grade. And we’ve learned that students are most successful when they see the relevance of their studies. That’s why we’ve instituted an elective focus that students will have to complete. (advance to slide 13)
  • Gary- We’ve required 4 credits of English for many years and that remains unchanged. But, like all the core courses, the level of rigor has been significantly increased. Students will be asked to work harder than ever. (advance to slide 14)
  • Gary- We’ve moved from 3 credits of math to 4. This is a significant change. In the past, many students were able to complete their math requirements as early as the fall of their junior year. Not any more. Now, students must take a math course each year they are in high school. They will not be allowed to finish early. Students will have a math class on their schedule each year of high school. Art- That’s a really big change. (advance to slide 15)
  • Connie - Science requirements remain at 3 credits, but now students must complete either chemistry or physics in order to graduate. We know through research that biology, chemistry, and physics are essential experiences for students to have in order to have the kinds of ACT scores that ensure postsecondary readiness. Art- Can students take chemistry AND physics? Connie - Certainly. They are encouraged to challenge themselves at the highest levels possible. (advance to slide 16)
  • Gary- There is little changed in terms of the social studies curriculum. We still believe that these courses are crucial in terms of giving students the types of high level experiences they need in order to be successful. (advance to slide 17)
  • Gary- We’ve added a couple of requirements that we are very excited about. One is a required course in personal finance. Many students graduate with very little knowledge about how to their handle money. We want students to have a real understanding about how credit works, about how to avoid predatory lending, and how to understand mortgages. Art- I wish I had a course like that in high school. Gary- So do I. Art- What else? Gary- We’ve added another physical education course to help ensure that our Tennessee students are healthier than ever. But we’ve added some flexibility to this and some of the other requirements. In certain cases, courses can be waived to give students more opportunities to take the courses that interest them. (advance to slide 18)
  • Art- Speaking of that, it sounds like you’re going to be keeping these students busy. Do they have any time for things that might interest them? Connie- Absolutely. In fact we’ve even built it into the schedule. The elective focus was mentioned earlier. This is the where students will really be able to find that thing that interests them and take extra courses in that area. When students have a focused interest it really makes the learning come alive. Art- Like what? Connie- Students can choose from a math and science focus, a humanities focus, a career and technical area focus, or even and advanced placement and international baccalaureate focus. Some schools will even have areas that are special to their school district. I would encourage students to talk to their counselors to learn more about this. (advance to slide 19)
  • Art- You’ve talked about the ACT benchmark scores. What happens for students who are able to attain this level? Gary- They will graduate with “honors” if they meet or exceed all four. These are the students who are truly prepared to be successful at the next level. (advance to slide 20)
  • Art- Dr. Nixon, school is not just about classes. There are many students who work hard both in and out of the classroom. What can we do for these students? Gary- I happy you brought that up. The State Board has created a new designation- Graduation with Distinction. This is for those students who have put into practice what they have learned in the classroom. (advance to slide 21)
  • Gary- Students who challenge themselves at the highest levels certainly deserve to be recognized. These are also the types of activities that colleges and employers are looking for. They know that these students are committed and not afraid of hard work. Art- Well Dr. Nixon, we’re almost out of time. Do you have any final thoughts? (advance to slide 22)
  • Gary- I would only add that almost everyone I’ve talked to, from the Governor to parents teachers and students all across out state believe that the time is right to make these changes. Today’s students are Tennessee’s future and they deserve the finest education possible. Everyone concerned with the Tennessee Diploma Project is committed to seeing that it happens. Art- Thank you for your time Dr. Nixon and Dr. Smith Connie – I am pleased to be part of this effort. Gary- Thanks you Art for moderating this discussion.
  • Tennessee Diploma Project - Gary Nixon

    1. 1. The Tennessee Diploma Project Gary L. Nixon, Ed. D. Executive Director State Board of Education
    2. 2. Tennessee Student Pipeline 100 9 th Graders
    3. 3. Tennessee Student Pipeline 63 Graduated HS on Time
    4. 4. Tennessee Student Pipeline 38 Entered Community College or University
    5. 5. Tennessee Student Pipeline 27 Were Enrolled the Sophomore Year
    6. 6. Tennessee Student Pipeline 17 Graduated in 150% of Time
    7. 7. Employment Projections <ul><li>Jobs that require post-secondary education or training will make up more than two-thirds of new jobs. </li></ul>Source: Carnevale, Anthony P. and Donna M. Desrochers, Standards for What? The Economic Roots of K–16 Reform, Educational Testing Service, 2003.
    8. 10. Are Tennessee Students Proficient? <ul><li>Spring 2007… National Chamber of Commerce comparison report card of key education factors in all states: </li></ul><ul><li>Tennessee made an “F” in the category of Truth in Advertising…comparing Tennessee proficiency (our state assessments) to National proficiency (NAEP) </li></ul>
    9. 11. Is there a gap between achievement on state assessments and NAEP?
    10. 12. Tennessee Joined the “American Diploma Project” ID AZ UT MT WY NM CO AL SC T N KY IN OH NC SD KS NE MN WI IA IL MO AR MS OK ND OR C A NV WA TX PA VA NY CT WV MD NJ VT NH M A DE RI HI GA FL ME MI LA AK
    11. 13. American Diploma Project 32 States – 4 Specific Actions <ul><li>Align standards and assessments with the knowledge and skills required beyond high school </li></ul><ul><li>Require all high school students to take challenging courses that actually prepare them for life after high school </li></ul><ul><li>Build college and work-ready measures into statewide accountability systems </li></ul><ul><li>Hold schools accountable for graduating students who are college and/or workforce ready, and hold postsecondary accountable for students’ success once enrolled </li></ul>
    12. 14. H S Graduation Requirements <ul><li>Changes approved to begin with the graduating class of 2013 include: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>developing one diploma path for all students </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>22 credits to graduate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>new English, Math, and Science curriculum </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>new end of course test counts as percentage of yearly grade </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>all students will have an elective focus </li></ul></ul>
    13. 15. H S Graduation Requirements <ul><li>English - 4 Credits: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>English I </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>English II </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>English III </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>English IV </li></ul></ul>
    14. 16. H S Graduation Requirements <ul><li>Math - 4 Credits: </li></ul><ul><li>(Students must take a math class each year) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Algebra I </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Geometry </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Algebra II </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Upper level Math </li></ul></ul>
    15. 17. H S Graduation Requirements <ul><li>Science - 3 Credits: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Biology I </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Chemistry or Physics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Another Lab. Science </li></ul></ul>
    16. 18. H S Graduation Requirements <ul><li>Social Studies – 3 Credits: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>W. History or W. Geography </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>U.S. History </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Economics and Government </li></ul></ul>
    17. 19. H S Graduation Requirements <ul><li>Other required courses – 5 credits: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Wellness </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Physical Education and Personal Finance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fine Art </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2 years of a Foreign Language </li></ul></ul>
    18. 20. H S Graduation Requirements <ul><li>Elective Focus – 3 Credits: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>career and technical </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>science and math </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>humanities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>fine arts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>AP/IB </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>locally approved focus areas </li></ul></ul>
    19. 21. Students with Disabilities <ul><li>Provide alternative performance based assessments of identified core academic skills contained within a course for students whose disability adversely effects performance on the end-of-course examination. Add additional points to the end-of-course score when the alternative performance based assessment is positive. </li></ul>
    20. 22. Students with Disabilities <ul><li>Require a math class each year achieving at least Algebra I and Geometry. </li></ul><ul><li>Require three credits in science with Biology I and two additional lab science credits. </li></ul>
    21. 23. Graduate with Honors <ul><li>Students who score at or above all of the subject area readiness benchmarks on the ACT or equivalent score on the SAT will graduate with honors. </li></ul>
    22. 24. Graduate with Distinction <ul><li>Students will be recognized as graduating with “distinction” by attaining a B average and completing at least one of the following: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>earn a nationally recognized industry certification </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>participate in at least one of the Governor’s Schools </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>participate in one of the state’s All State musical organizations </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>be selected as a National Merit Finalist of Semi-Finalist </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    23. 25. Graduate with Distinction <ul><ul><ul><ul><li>attain a score of 31 or higher composite score on the ACT </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>attain a score of 3 or higher on at least two advanced placement exams </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>successfully complete the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>earn 12 or more semester hours of transcripted postsecondary credit </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    24. 26. The Tennessee Diploma Project Preparing Tennesseans for the 21 st Century