Go back

News in higher education

Tennessee students would have to work harder for their diplomas under a plan to replace the standardized Gateway tests with more challenging end-of-course exams. The new tests would count toward a portion of a grade like Gateways but would hold students to higher academic standards, state education officials said.

The proposed changes are a part of a sweeping high school revamp in Tennessee in an effort to align lesson plans and achievement tests with national standards.
Tennessee students would have to work harder for their diplomas under a plan to replace the standardized Gateway tests with more challenging end-of-course exams. The new tests would count toward a portion of a grade like Gateways but would hold students to higher academic standards, state education officials said.

The proposed changes are a part of a sweeping high school revamp in Tennessee in an effort to align lesson plans and achievement tests with national standards.

The state Board of Education is scheduled to vote on the issue next month. If it passes, students currently in seventh grade will be the first to take the exams, starting in Fall 2009, state officials said.

Students have to pass Gateway exams in Algebra I, English II and Biology I and accumulate 20 credits to receive a high school diploma. Of all Tennessee students who took Algebra I test last school year, 23.3 percent failed, a trend plaguing the state for at least four years.

Students showed much better passing rates in English II and Biology I.
The board is figuring out what additional subjects should be mandatory to pass under the new system. The new tests could count for 25 percent of the final grade but will count less at first to give teachers and students time to get used to them.

Current Gateway scores count for at least 15 percent of final grades, but it's up to each district to set an exact percentage, education officials said.

The state will take bids on a contract to write the new tests. (The Tennessean, Dec. 7, 2007)

The University of Tennessee-Knoxville is the first university in the country to receive the national Green Seal for its cleaning processes.

The school's Facilities Services Department received the certification mark for seven buildings, including the Hodges Library and the College of Law building. Green Seal is a nonprofit certification corporation approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.

"The cleaner is actually applying cleaning products eight hours a day, and we're using the best products possible for them," said Sarah Surak, spokeswoman for the UT department. "It's better for people in the building."

In addition to using environmentally friendly chemicals and reusable materials, the school must follow several cleaning procedures to minimize waste.

The certification cost the school about $10,000, Surak said, and must be renewed each year to retain the seal. (The Tennessean, Dec. 7, 2007)