Letter from Jamie Woodson: Charting the Path toward Greater Student Achievement

AR 2017 cover vertical borderDear Friends,

In 2011, Tennessee was trailing the nation educationally. Ranking between 46 to 41 in reading and math for fourth- and eighth-graders, Tennessee needed to do better. And, remarkably, Tennessee did.

Our students now rank in the top half of all states for fourth-grade math and in the top 20 for fourth- and eighth-grade science. This progress came about with a collaborative, student-centered vision, courage in setting bold goals, excellence and innovation in achieving those goals, and an optimistic belief in the ability of Tennessee students to achieve at the high levels.

Our 2016-17 State of Education in Tennessee report updates readers with the work from the past year and sets priorities for the year ahead. These priorities form a student-focused “to-do list” to help continue the work to sustain our gains in student achievement and accelerate the pace of improvement in Tennessee.

This year, the list is focused and forthright, with three priorities:

Full Priorities

These three priorities reflect both Tennessee’s progress, areas of improvement, and the goals that SCORE and education partners across the state strive to achieve:

• Maintaining Tennessee’s place as one of the fastest-improving states,
• Making real progress in narrowing long-standing gaps in educational achievement, and
• Enhancing the postsecondary preparedness of high school graduates.

Our vision is bold but also necessary. A better future for Tennessee students requires us to resist complacency with our initial success and to feel a sense of urgency in pressing forward. Improving education in Tennessee doesn’t just lift student outcomes today, it moves the entire state toward a more equal and flourishing society tomorrow. In these early days of 2017, I want to thank Tennessee’s educators, policymakers, and community and business members for your sustained effort. Our collective work has been exceptional, but it is not anywhere close to complete.

Very truly yours,

Jamie Signature 4-2014

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Jamie Woodson

Jamie Woodson sets the strategic vision for SCORE as Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer and leads SCORE’s executive team and the organization’s efforts to build and strengthen partnerships with leaders in Tennessee and across the nation. She has been a leading figure in spearheading Tennessee’s efforts to better prepare students for postsecondary education and the workforce. Prior to joining SCORE, she served for more than 12 years in the Tennessee General Assembly in both the House and Senate. As Chairman of the Senate Education Committee and later as Senate Speaker Pro Tempore, Jamie was a key leader in efforts to identify and support effective teaching, overhaul Tennessee’s K-12 education funding formula, raise academic standards for Tennessee students, turn around low-performing schools, and expand high-quality public charter schools in Tennessee. In addition, she was a key leader in Tennessee’s work to transform public higher education by aligning Tennessee’s postsecondary system and the state’s economic goals through changes in academic, fiscal, and administrative policies. As a citizen legislator, she also served as general counsel for an East Tennessee manufacturing firm. Jamie attended public schools in Tennessee and received a Bachelor of Arts and Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. She was selected as “Torchbearer,” which is the highest honor an undergraduate may receive from the university.

The SCORE Sheet is the online conversation on public education reform in Tennessee and is hosted by SCORE. The blog mirrors SCORE’s collaborative nature and features contributors from Tennessee and across the country including students, parents, teachers, policymakers, community groups, and members of SCORE’s team. Regardless of perspective, contributors share a common goal: that every child graduates from high school prepared for college or the workforce.

Posts on The SCORE Sheet are the opinions of the individual contributors and are not necessarily reflective of the opinions and positions of the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE).