Bredesen on Watered-Down Achievement Standards

Former Gov. Phil Bredesen said Tennessee’s lax testing standards had misled students into believing they had mastered subjects, speaking about how he tried to address the problem in a CNN series on America’s schools.

For example, the state at one point reported that 83 percent or 84 percent of students were proficient in 8th-grade math, when in reality only 22 percent were, Bredesen said in the report that aired Sunday.

“You may feel good for a minute if you think that, but you’re not doing these kids any favor by lying to them like that,” Bredesen said. The former Democratic governor said he believed a lot of states had watered down achievement standards in response to the rigorous reporting requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act, signed into law by President George W. Bush almost a decade ago.

The CNN report spotlights Bredesen initiatives to beef up the state’s math and science curriculum and toughen graduation requirements. The series follows three students from around the country preparing for a national robotics competition, including a teen from Seymour, Tenn. The students are among the few who are excelling in math and science, while overall the country is not turning out enough workers prepared to enter those high-skilled fields, the report says.

Check out the CNN series, “Don’t Fail Me: Education in America,” at the links below.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5