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Academic Standards

Academic standards provide a common set of expectations toward which all students strive.  They establish necessary knowledge and skills for students to succeed in post-secondary study or careers. The Tennessee Department of Education is committed to providing educators with resources and information to support student mastery of these standards. 

While academic standards establish desired learning outcomes, curriculum provides instructional programming designed to help students reach these outcomes.  Districts work locally to establish curricular programs which support student mastery of Tennessee’s academic standards while reflecting unique community values.  Not all students will master standards at the same pace.  Instructional practices should provide each student with the best opportunity to meet these standards by supporting individual learning needs. 

The Tennessee State Board of Education is charged with adopting academic standards for the different subject areas at each grade level.  As required competencies change for post-secondary success, academic standards are revised to reflect these changes.  Below are links to Tennessee’s current academic standards in each subject area.

Academic Standards

Information on Tennessee’s current curriculum standards for various academic areas can also be found online. They are listed, by course, below:

2014-15 Social Studies Standards

After receiving feedback and insight from educators in Tennessee and reviewing national exemplars in social studies education and two sets of draft standards, the State Board of Education approved on second read the new social studies standards on July 26, 2013. These standards will begin in the 2014-15 school year. Teachers with a history 7-12 endorsement or a geography 7-12 endorsement will be qualified to teach both the U.S. history and geography course and world history and geography course starting in 2014-15.

During the 2013-14 year teachers will continue to teach the current social studies standards. There will be social studies TCAP and EOC exams during the 2013-14 school year, and the tests will continue to be based on the current state performance indicators (SPIs). The results of social studies assessments are not a component of the school and district accountability measures; however, the assessments are included in social studies teachers’ TVAAS effect scores. The 2013-14 school year will be the final year of testing based on the previous SPIs. The department will provide more information on the social studies assessments for the 2014-15 school year and subsequent school years; this information will be released in the coming months.


Tennessee's social studies standards are the result of looking to the best social studies standards in the nation. The curriculum standards of Massachusetts, California, Washington D.C., Alabama, Virginia, the American Psychological Association and others served as a model for Tennessee's revisions. The final product is heavily indebted to the exemplary work of source states and organizations. Educators in Tennessee were involved in the writing and revisions of the standards throughout the process. Their feedback was instrumental in the development of the new standards.

Acknowledgements in Standards

  • Alabama State Department of Education
  • American Psychological Association
  • California Department of Education
  • Connecticut State Department of Education
  • District of Columbia Public Schools
  • Georgia Department of Education
  • Indiana Department of Education
  • Massachusetts Department of Education
  • New Jersey Department of Education
  • North Carolina Department of Public Instruction
  • Oklahoma State Department of Education
  • South Carolina Department of Education
  • Texas Education Agency
  • Virginia Department of Education
  • National Geographic Society
  • Tennessee History for Kids
  • National Council for the Social Studies
  • Australian Government: Geoscience Australia and Australian Indigenous cultural heritage website
  • Tennessee, A Short History by Robert Ewing Corlew, Stanley John Folmsbee, and Enoch L. Mitchell, University of Tennessee Press
  • Tennessee through Time by Carole Stanford Bucy, Gibbs Smith Publishers
  • Library of Congress
  • Cengage Learning World Civilizations Resource Center
  • Common Core State Standards
  • Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture, Tennessee Historical Society the University of Tennessee Press
  • Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee
  • Southern Poverty Law Center
  • Southern Regional Education Board

Social Studies Codingdownload pdf file

2014-15 Social Studies Assessment Transition Plan

The State Board of Education approved an assessment transition plan for social studies for the 2014-15 school year.  There will be a field test in 2014-15, and operational social studies testing will resume in the 2015-16 school year.

More information about the field test will be released in the coming months, but as with other pilots, the results of the field test will not be reported to students and will not affect students’ grades. Information on the design of the 2015-16 Social Studies TCAP operational assessment will be available this fall.

Read the entire plan for more information about the transition to the new assessments. For questions, please contact