Public Feedback is Advancing Tennessee’s Science Education Standards

Friday, October 15, 2021 | 02:54pm

October 15, 2021

CONTACT: Elizabeth Tullos

(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — On September 19, 2021, the first round of the State Board of Education’s science academic standards review cycle closed, collecting over 10,000 comments from teachers, education leaders, and parents.

During the initial review period from August - September of this year, Tennesseans were invited to share their feedback on the state’s K-12 academic standards for science through an online survey. Members of the public were able to review the existing standards for all sections of the state’s science education standards as they shared comments. The survey offered options to indicate whether a standard should be kept, changed, removed, or moved to a different grade level, as well as space to indicate if a new standard should potentially be added.

“Reviewing Tennessee’s science academic standards is the design process in action and helps ensure a higher level of learning is attained by students through teacher instruction,” said Brandi Stroecker, director of the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network. “Including a wide range of stakeholders — such as parents, educators, and even students — creates a rich and robust set of standards by including multiple perspectives as they work to articulate the essential core knowledge and skills students should master.”

With the conclusion of the first survey window, teams of Tennessee educators from K-12 schools and higher education will soon begin reviewing the public comments and propose revisions. Early in 2022, the revisions will become available again for public input in a second survey.

“Working with our Tennessee educators to revise and update academic standards is a highlight of this process, because they bring such in-depth content expertise as well as experience in our state’s classrooms,” said Amy Owen, deputy executive director of policy and research for the State Board. “Our staff is pleased to work with these dedicated educators and facilitate their focused review.”

Established in law in 2015, Tennessee’s process for updating the academic standards on math, English language arts, social studies, and science is among the most transparent and comprehensive in the nation. This initial public survey on the science academic standards initiated a year-long process that includes two rounds of public feedback and input from multiple committees of Tennessee educators.

Following the second survey, the Standards Recommendation Committee — a public body appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor, and speaker of the House of Representatives, and confirmed by the General Assembly— will review the proposed revisions and public comments and will deliberately decide which standards to recommend to the State Board of Education for final adoption. These steps combine to permit input and vetting in a transparent and inclusive way.

Adoption of the revised standards kicks off a preparation process that includes educator training, the adoption of aligned textbooks and instructional materials, and alignment of state assessments to the revised standards. After these processes are complete, the revised science standards will be implemented in Tennessee classrooms during the 2024-25 school year.

The State Board last received public comment on Tennessee’s science standards in 2016 and, following revision, approved the current standards in October 2016. During that review process, there were over 1,300 reviewers and 29,000 comments, each of which was considered by the educator advisory team as they updated the standards line-by-line. An overview of the academic standards review process is available on the State Board of Education website.


The Tennessee State Board of Education is a ten-member, governor-appointed and legislatively confirmed board charged under the law with rulemaking and policymaking for K-12 education. Through a close partnership with the Tennessee Department of Education, the Board maintains oversight in K-12 implementation and academic standards.