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Education

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Tennessee lawmakers appear to be closing in on a plan to address Common Core education standards, but they’re keeping their solution under wraps.

Lawmakers have been trying for weeks to figure out how to deal with Common Core, the controversial education standards they adopted five years ago.

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Both the state House and Senate began advancing a proposal Wednesday that gives any student with an Individualized Education Plan the option to take the federal, state and local money that would be spent on them and attend a private school or alternative program. They could even be homeschooled and use the money for tutors and special therapy.

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Tennessee lawmakers are working to keep school districts in the business of offering classes online. But as they do so, they’re staying away from the program’s most notable failure.

The state Senate voted Monday to extend the state's virtual school program for four more years, clearing the way for schools in Nashville, Chattanooga and elsewhere in Tennessee to remain open into 2019.

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A plan to start a school voucher program in Tennessee has been kicking around in the legislature for several years. And this may be the session it finally passes, even though Governor Bill Haslam abandoned his own proposal from years past.

Haslam isn’t the biggest fan of paying private school tuition for students, but he does see some potential if a voucher program is limited to low-income families zoned for struggling schools.

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A bill allowing students to opt out of the ACT narrowly failed in the Tennessee House of Representatives on Wednesday. But it started a conversation about those who intentionally bomb the college entrance exam and what the state should do about it.

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School systems in Memphis, Knoxville and Chattanooga are already pursuing litigation to demand more state funding. But Nashville’s superintendent argues Metro Schools should stay out of court. 

In a letter to school board members, Jesse Register says he sees a legal challenge as a last resort. And with the replacement of lightning rod Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman, Register says now is the time to “work cooperatively.”

University of Tennessee System via Flickr

Some professors at the University of Tennessee are not happy with a recent statement from their president.

While presenting a plan to save costs and increase revenue, Joe DiPietro told the UT board he wanted to review the system’s tenure process, including how it evaluates tenured professors and how it fires the bad ones.

“The reality is, the post-tenure review processes that we currently have is not very effective,” he said.

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A long-time principal who is now a legislator says too many Tennessee students are blowing off mandatory college entrance exams and dragging down the average score for the state and districts.

Emily Siner / WPLN

The list of students who are eligible for Tennessee Promise now has 20,000 fewer names on it.

Nearly every high school senior in the state applied for the free community and technical college program last fall, but a third of them didn’t complete the first mandatory steps.

courtesy TN Education Dept.

The amount of testing in Tennessee’s public schools is under scrutiny, with the state's new education commissioner naming a task force Monday to complete a review by this summer. 

Parents frequently tell commission Candice McQueen that there is "too much testing," according to an education department press release. 

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