Lead State: Tennessee

The archive below summarizes content from the state's application for Lead State Partner in 2011. 

Interested in implementation? Learn more about NGSS design and find state and district implementation resources.


Commissioner of Education: Kevin S. Huffman

Partner Organizations: Tennessee Science Teachers Association; Tennessee Science Education Leadership Association; STEM Leadership Council; Tennessee Academy of Science;; Tennessee Earth Science Teachers; Tennessee Environmental Educators Association; Tennessee Educators of Aquatic and Marine Sciences; Tennessee American Association of Physics Teachers; Tennessee Energy Education Network; Tennessee Association of Middle Schools; Tennessee  Society of Professional Engineers

Background:     The current Tennessee science standards were adopted in 2007–08, and implemented during school year 2009-2010. The next cycle of standards will coordinate with the scheduled curriculum materials adoption in school year 2015–16, which requires the adoption of standards by 2013–14, therefore, Tennessee is poised to implement new science standards according to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) proposed timeline. Tennessee students must complete three units of science including biology, chemistry or physics, and one additional laboratory science course in order to meet high school graduation requirements. Currently, the Tennessee Science Curriculum Standards are broken down by grade levels in K–8 and by courses in grades 9–12. The grade level standards in grades 6–8 touch upon all subject areas, however grade six focuses on earth and space science, grade seven on life science, and grade eight on physical science. Science is state assessed in grades 3–8 through the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program, and through an end of course exam in biology for high school. End of course exams in chemistry and physics are scheduled for development. 

Commitment:     Tennessee has a strong commitment to standards-based learning as evidenced by its adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and its position as a governing state in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). The state adopted the National Science Education Standards (NSES) in 1996, and expects that the State Board of Education will follow the department recommendation by adopting NGSS. Tennessee recognizes the importance of science and aims to commit to this understanding by becoming involved in the development, and eventual adoption and implementation of NGSS.

STEM Involvement:     Tennessee has numerous STEM partnerships and programs that further STEM education throughout the state. The First to the Top Tennessee STEM Innovation Network (TSIN) includes post-secondary and business/industry partners that have joined together to promote STEM education and build on existing structures to provide consistent communication and outreach. The TSIN is highly significant in that it provides the support necessary for achieving the vision of the Next Generation Science Standards. Tennessee also has an active STEM Leadership Council that is well positioned to assist the state in providing quality STEM professional development for teachers, administrators, district STEM leaders, and partners. The Council will also be integral in communicating, refining and implementing NGSS in local school systems across Tennessee.

Alliances and Infrastructure:     Tennessee has a myriad of district and school partners that will assist with the promotion of quality science and STEM education through the NGSS.  Many district curriculum supervisors throughout the state have made commitments to actively engage in streamlining the process of local NGSS implementation. In addition, several business and industry partners, including the Science Alliance of Museums and Public Television, have expressed their desire and willingness to assist with this effort.