SCORE Statement On 2017 NAEP Results

NASHVILLE – The State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) has released this statement from Executive Chairman and CEO Jamie Woodson on the results of the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress released today:

Tennessee has sustained most of the state’s previous academic gains on the new Nation’s Report Card. While Tennessee remains among the states that have made the most progress since 2011, our students are not yet performing at the high levels Tennesseans want.

The NAEP results support SCORE recommendations to make every student a strong reader and writer and give students with the greatest needs more support to learn at their highest levels. Other priorities confirmed by NAEP focus on providing strong leadership in every school, especially low-performing schools, and effective teaching in every classroom, especially in the core subjects of English and math.

The previous unprecedented gains Tennessee made on NAEP followed the introduction of far-reaching, student-focused policies eight years ago. That experience provides guidance as Tennessee enters a statewide leadership transition: Keep what’s working, be bold enough to innovate, and implement well in every school across Tennessee.

Given past performance, SCORE expects the policymakers and educators of Tennessee will rise to the challenge and use the information released today to make wise decisions to help Tennessee students achieve at higher levels and continue rising until they rank among the best in the nation.

SCORE To Invest In Tennessee School Leadership Initiative

NASHVILLE – The State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) today released the following statement from SCORE Executive Chairman and CEO Jamie Woodson about Governor Haslam’s school leadership initiative. Through the Tennessee Educational Innovation Fund, a philanthropic endeavor launched in 2017, SCORE is joining a public-private effort to increase fellowships for new school leaders:

School leaders who can skillfully lead learning and people are essential for driving bigger and faster academic gains for Tennessee students. The Tennessee new leader fellowships SCORE will be investing in will expand access to high-quality preparation and opportunities to learn on the job in schools with strong support systems like residencies and mentor relationships.

Today’s announcement is an important start to ensuring every Tennessee student and teacher has a great school leader. To foster continued principal development efforts in Tennessee, SCORE is reviewing research and collaborating with stakeholders to issue additional policy and practice recommendations later this year.

The 2018 Gubernatorial Forum On Education


Belmont University, 2018

Tennessee voters think education is one of the most important issues the next governor will face and this year’s election comes at a critical time in the statewide efforts to improve the academic performance of students in Tennessee’s public schools.

To highlight the importance of education in the state, and in partnership with Belmont University, The USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee, and NewsChannel 5, SCORE hosted the 2018 Gubernatorial Forum on Education. If you missed the forum on January 23, you still can watch the hour-long forum to hear from gubernatorial candidates specifically about their visions for education.

Report Shows Urgent Need For Southern States To Improve K-12 Schools For Every Child

In a new report, seven nonpartisan organizations in the South — including the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) — call for their states to take swifter action to improve K-12 public education for every child with an emphasis on support for students with the greatest needs.

Accelerating The Pace: The Future Of Education In The American South recommends greater urgency in efforts by Southern states to raise the overall quality of education. The report shows that while the South has made major advances in education in recent decades, some “achievement gaps” between more affluent students and historically underserved classmates widened between 2005 and 2015.   

The report and the accompanying results of The Education Poll of the South are from the Columbia Group, an informal network of organizations that work to improve education in their respective states. The Columbia Group’s members are:

  • • A+ Education Partnership in Alabama
  • • Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education
  • • Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence in Kentucky
  • • Education’s Next Horizon in Louisiana
  • • Mississippi First
  • • Public School Forum of North Carolina
  • • SCORE

Accelerating the Pace calls for state leaders and educators to focus on four main priority areas for improvement:

  • Make the South the best place to teach in the nation. Teachers and principals who have the talent, preparation and continued support they need to help students succeed.
  • Provide new types of academic—and nonacademic—support for today’s students. Students need an array of support systems to help them deal with physical and emotional health issues that can impact their learning.
  • Clear all students’ path from high school to their next steps in education and work. Build a much stronger bridge from high school into college, career training or a good job.
  • Ensure resources are adequate and targeted. Invest in education to meet the needs of every child, and consider additional support for students who need the most help to catch up.

“In November, SCORE outlined five priorities for Tennessee to focus on for the next eight years to help lift Tennessee students to among the best in the nation for academic achievement, and there are common threads between that report, Excellence For All, and the findings in Accelerating The Pace,” SCORE President David Mansouri said. “Both reports zero in on teaching, postsecondary readiness, and more support for children with the greatest needs as key levers to drive greater student achievement.”

The accompanying results of The Education Poll of the South show that most Southern voters of all political views and backgrounds support better educational opportunities for every child, no matter students’ background or where they live. The poll surveyed 2,200 registered voters in 12 states, from Virginia to Louisiana, and shows strong consensus for the need to improve education and on key issues that states need to address. Among the key findings:

  • • 74 percent of voters in the South see differences across their states in how well students are educated. Only 13 percent said all schools do an adequate job across their state. Another 13 percent didn’t know.
  • • 85 percent of voters in the South support “improving public schools by addressing differences in the quality of education across all schools in the state.” Only 6 percent—about one in 17 voters—opposed this idea, and 7 percent did not know.
  • • 84 percent support their “state improving public schools by addressing differences in funding across all public schools.” Only 8 percent oppose the idea, and 7 percent did not know.

The poll findings are from voters across the South that roughly match the political affiliation, gender, income levels, and racial/ethnic backgrounds of registered voters in each state. Nearly three out of four voters in the survey were parents, although 40 percent had children older than school age.

Many other partner nonprofit organizations provided data and expertise for the Accelerating the Pace report, spanning different political and ideological viewpoints. These include the Southern Regional Education Board, the PIE Network, and the Southern Education Foundation.

For more information, visit

Survey: Tennessee Voters Name Education As Decisive Issue In Governor’s Race

NASHVILLE – Tennesseans who are likely to vote in this year’s gubernatorial primaries identify education as their top issue in casting a ballot for governor, according to a statewide survey.

Results from the poll were released today by the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE), which commissioned a statewide survey of 500 likely voters for the 2018 Republican primary and 501 likely voters in the Democratic primary. The telephone poll was conducted December 14-17 by Fabrizio, Lee & Associates and Benenson Strategy Group.

The Republicans and Democrats surveyed were most likely to name education as the single issue that will be most important in deciding their vote for governor, with about a fifth giving that answer to an open-ended question. About one in four parent voters named education as the top issue. Education has risen in importance with voters compared with a similar survey conducted by the same polling firms for SCORE in July, which found education among the top three issues.

“In an era of intense political polarization, Democratic and Republican 2018 primary voters in Tennessee show remarkable agreement regarding the importance of education and the substantial role they want education to play in this year’s gubernatorial campaign,” pollsters Tony Fabrizio of Fabrizio, Lee & Associates and Shira Angert of Benenson Strategy Group said in a jointly written memo.

The survey also found that most voters in either party believe Tennessee high school graduates are not properly prepared for college or a job. Among Republicans, 61 percent think students are not prepared, while 56 percent of Democrats feel that way. These results are about 10 points higher for both parties since the July survey.

 “SCORE regularly conducts surveys about voter views on education issues, and it is clear from the latest results that Tennessee voters understand the importance of public education, especially as providing a foundation for success after high school,” SCORE President David Mansouri said. “Voters also are eager to hear candidates for governor talk about the policies they favor for improving education in Tennessee.”

Two other issues – expanding pre-kindergarten opportunities and school choice – showed party splits, but both were favored by the majority of those polled.

There was strong agreement among a majority of Democrats and Republicans that they would be more likely to support a candidate for governor who favors:

  • • Increasing teacher pay, with 91 percent of Democrats and 73 percent of Republicans.
  • • Expanding efforts to ensure more Tennesseans have some education beyond high school, with 90 percent of Democrats and 74 percent of Republicans.
  • • Making early grade literacy the state’s top priority, with 83 percent of Democrats and 72 percent of Republicans.
  • • Improving training for school principals, with 88 percent of Democrats and 76 percent of Republicans.

The poll also found that about nine of ten Republicans and Democrats support annual statewide assessment. While about four in ten voters in either party say students are given too many tests, a third of Democrats and 30 percent of Republicans think students take about the right amount of tests.

The release of the poll follows a gubernatorial forum on education held Tuesday with five leading candidates from both parties and co-hosted by SCORE, Belmont University, NewsChannel 5, and the USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee. More than 1,200 people attended the forum, which also was televised and livestreamed.

POLL METHODOLOGY: Benenson Strategy Group conducted 501 telephone interviews with likely 2018 Democratic primary voters in Tennessee on behalf of Tennessee SCORE. Fabrizio, Lee & Associates conducted 500 telephone interviews with likely 2018 Republican primary voters in Tennessee on behalf of Tennessee SCORE. All interviews were conducted from December 14, 2017, to December 17, 2017, and 40 percent of interviews were conducted by cell phone. The margin of error for both datasets is +/- 4.3%. It is higher among subgroups.

Download joint memo from Fabrizio, Lee & Associates and Benenson Strategy Group

Download topline results from poll of Democrats

Download topline results from poll of Republicans


SCORE Report Sets 5 New Priorities For Improving Student Achievement Through 2025

The State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) today released a new report with five strategic priorities for continuing Tennessee’s unprecedented progress in student achievement through the year 2025.

The report, Excellence For All: How Tennessee Can Lift Our Students To Best In The Nation, outlines priorities for public education that are grounded in goals set by SCORE to remain among the fastest-improving states for student achievement, to close all student achievement gaps, and to prepare all students for postsecondary education and the workforce.

SCORE, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education research and advocacy organization founded by Senator Bill Frist, MD, engaged and listened to almost 1,700 Tennesseans from diverse backgrounds and reviewed education research to identify the priorities that will help drive greater student achievement.

“Tennesseans are proud that Tennessee became the fastest-improving state for academic achievement, and now they want our students to rank among the best in the nation,” said SCORE Chairman and Founder Senator Bill Frist, MD. “A shared vision and collaborative approach helped Tennessee deliver greater success for students over the past 10 years. The Excellence For All report provides an updated vision for continued collaboration and progress over the next eight years.”

The Excellence For All report identifies the top K-12 priorities as:

Make Tennessee The Best State To Live, Work, And Grow As A Teacher. The report recommends the state focus on recruiting the best and brightest for the teaching profession, preparing them well, and supporting them intensively through the first few years in the classroom. It also calls for the state to make it professionally and personally rewarding for teachers to stay in the classroom.

Support Every Student To Become A Strong Reader And Writer. The report says Tennessee students should become the fastest-improving in reading. It recommends expanding access to high-quality, affordable instructional materials aligned to Tennessee’s standards, strengthening the training and support of teachers to help students become stronger readers and writers, and building leader knowledge of literacy standards to support effective teaching.

Develop School Leaders Who Are Ready To Lead Learning And People. In order to develop strong school leaders, the report recommends that Tennessee principal preparation programs emphasize the work of leading instruction and a high-performing team of educators. It also calls on the state to invest in building high-quality, sustainable principal preparation programs.

Ensure High School Is The On-Ramp To Postsecondary Studies And Jobs. The report recommends Tennessee introduce redesigned high school models with a focus on postsecondary readiness. It says the state’s high schools should give all students access to the coursework that prepares them to succeed after graduation and develop strong partnerships between high schools, higher education, and employers.

Provide Tennessee Students With The Greatest Needs A High-Quality Education. To ensure that students of color, low-income students, English learners, and students with disabilities receive a high-quality education, the report calls for equitable distribution of highly effective teachers, strong school leadership, and innovative supports that are proven to help students learn at their highest levels.

“Next year, Tennesseans will elect a new governor and at least 23 new members of the Tennessee General Assembly,” said SCORE Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jamie Woodson. “Tennessee voters rank K-12 education among the top issues in the state, so there is no better time for those of us who care deeply about Tennessee students to put forth a new vision to achieve even greater academic success. This report aims to ensure Tennessee leads our students to another decade of progress and success.”

SCORE presented the report findings to educators, policymakers, and community and civic leaders during an event in Nashville. Panelists included Dr. Nancy Dishner, President and CEO of the Niswonger Foundation; David Golden, Senior VP, Chief Legal and Sustainability Officer at Eastman Chemical Company; Dorsey Hopson II, Superintendent of Shelby County Schools; Dr. Sharon Roberts, Chief Strategy Officer at SCORE; and Cicely Woodard, Tennessee Teacher of the Year from Metro Nashville Public Schools.

The collaborative approach to the Excellence For All report repeated the process SCORE used shortly after its founding in 2009 to develop a plan for raising the academic performance of students in Tennessee public schools. The report issued by SCORE eight years ago, A Roadmap To Success, helped provide a foundation for the education reforms that followed over two administrations, including higher academic standards, annual teacher evaluation, and strong school turnaround efforts.

Jamie Woodson: Approved Tennessee Succeeds Plan Advances Tennessee-Specific Solutions For Students

The State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) has released the following statement from Executive Chairman and CEO Jamie Woodson about approval from the U.S. Department of Education for Tennessee’s Every Student Succeeds Act plan.

Tennessee Succeeds, the state’s plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act, applies state-specific solutions for meeting the needs of Tennessee students. Stakeholders from across the state provided input to the Tennessee Department of Education as the proposal was developed so that it met the needs of all Tennessee students, particularly historically underserved students.

Three key parts of the plan will be vital to helping students achieve more. First, there now will be success measures for every school so parents, educators, and community members can understand whether all students are being served well. In particular, more schools will receive data about the academic success of students of color, low-income students, students with disabilities, and English learners. Second, the plan creates an innovative “ready graduate” measure that should increase opportunities for high school students to earn college credit or industry certification. Finally, it establishes a clearer and more comprehensive approach to turning around low-performing schools in collaborative ways.

It is now important for SCORE, the Tennessee Department of Education, and all partners to support our educators as they put this plan to work for students.

Tennessee Voters Show Wide Support For Education Reform Issues In Statewide Survey

A survey of likely voters in Tennessee’s 2018 gubernatorial primaries shows that education reform measures have broad support among Republicans and Democrats and that voters rank improving the quality of education as one of the top issues for the next governor.

Results from the poll were released today by the State Collaborative on Reforming Education, which commissioned a statewide survey of 500 likely voters in the 2018 Republican primary and 500 likely voters in the Democratic primary. The telephone poll was conducted July 12-16 by Fabrizio, Lee & Associates and Benenson Strategy Group.

“One year from now, Tennessee will be holding primary elections for governor and most seats in the General Assembly. It’s clear from this poll that education is a priority for likely voters, and that voters think the improvement efforts of the past 10 years are worth continuing,” SCORE Executive Chairman and CEO Jamie Woodson said. “This includes higher standards, statewide assessment, and teacher evaluations based on multiple measures.”

Voters of both parties ranked education among the top three issues for the next governor, and among parents who vote it was the No. 1 issue for Democrats and the No. 2 issue for Republicans.

Voters were given a number of proposed education reforms and asked whether they would be more or less likely to support a candidate for governor who backed these proposals. For every potential reform, a majority of voters from both parties said they would be more likely to support such a candidate by a margin of 25 points or greater, according to a memo written jointly by pollsters Tony Fabrizio of Fabrizio, Lee & Associates and Shira Angert of Benenson Strategy Group. The list of reforms included:

  • • Expansion of early workforce training, 79 percent of Republican voters and 88 percent of Democratic voters
  • • Higher academic standards, 79 percent of Republican voters and 85 percent of Democratic voters
  • • Improved early learning opportunities, 71 percent of Republican voters and 90 percent of Democratic voters
  • • Increased teacher pay, 71 percent of Republican voters and 88 percent of Democratic voters
  • • Multiple-measure teacher evaluations, 65 percent of Republican voters and 73 percent of Democratic voters
  • • Tougher statewide testing that mirrors what is taught in class, 52 percent of Republican voters and 56 percent of Democratic voters


“We’ve conducted similar surveys for the past 10 years, and Tennessee voters have consistently stood by policies that are focused on improving academic achievement for our students,” SCORE President David Mansouri said. “As we move into an important election cycle, this poll shows us that Tennessee voters continue to support the innovations that have been introduced to help students learn at higher levels.”

The pollsters said there were notable areas of agreement among the voters despite some partisan differences. “Republicans and Democrats not surprisingly have very different views on the current political environment in Tennessee, but they both have positive views of Governor Haslam and his education reforms and policies,” the joint memo said. Among those surveyed, 75 percent of Republicans and 63 percent of Democrats said they approved of the job Haslam has done.

The survey also indicated that Tennesseans are not aware of objective measures, like the Nation’s Report Card, that indicate academic achievement is improving faster in Tennessee than in other states. More voters said they think K-12 education in Tennessee is getting worse than getting better, though a plurality believe it is staying the same. Parents are less positive about the state’s direction on education, the poll showed.

“While Tennessee’s recent progress in education is not known among likely voters, there are a number of ideas for improving education in the state that voters on both sides of the aisle strongly agree with,” Fabrizio and Angert wrote. “Support for education reforms has the potential to generate more support for candidates in both parties.”

Both Angert and Fabrizio have experience conducting surveys for presidential campaigns. Angert was part of Benenson’s team working for then-Senator Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and conducted polling for the White House in 2009, while Fabrizio has served as the chief pollster on four presidential campaigns, most notably and recently Donald Trump’s 2016 upset victory.

POLL METHODOLOGY: The surveys of likely voters in the August 2018 Tennessee primaries were conducted via landline and cell phone by Benenson Strategy Group and Fabrizio, Lee & Associates. Landline interviews accounted for 60 percent of the sample and cell phone interviews 40 percent.  Geography by county and media market were matched to previous statewide primary elections. Gender and age were matched to the population of likely voters according to a state-provided voter file. Respondents were randomly selected from lists of known registered voters who had previously voted in a primary election. The margin of error at the 95% confidence interval for 500 voters is ±4.38%.

Download joint media memo from Fabrizio, Lee & Associates and Benenson Strategy Group

Download toplines of Democratic voters

Download toplines of Republican voters

‘Teach Today. Change Tomorrow.’ Recruitment Campaign Launches


The State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) has announced a statewide campaign – Teach Today. Change Tomorrow. – to recruit millennials to become teachers in Tennessee.

Tennessee needs high-quality teachers across the state, and Teach Today. Change Tomorrow. is committed to helping place a great teacher in front of every student. With more than 20,000 anticipated job openings in education by 2024 in Tennessee, Teach Today. Change Tomorrow. seeks to motivate passionate young people to pursue a career in teaching and ensure future teachers are prepared.

Teach Today. Change Tomorrow. will look to empower millennials to go into the teaching profession. Tennessee has many high-needs schools in rural and urban districts and needs to recruit more STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) teachers, an area where the state faces a critical shortage. Teach Today. Change Tomorrow. will also address the need for more diversity in Tennessee’s teacher ranks. Students of color make up 35 percent of the public school population, yet just 15 percent of teachers in the state identify as persons of color.

The campaign includes a website,, and presences on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, supported with statewide radio advertising. The website contains information about the path to an education career, testimonials from current teachers and links to all Tennessee educator preparation programs.

From mentorship through its Ambassador program, made up of teachers and education professionals throughout the state, to providing the tools and information necessary to become a teacher in Tennessee, Teach Today. Change Tomorrow. will be an essential resource for millennials who want to make a difference through teaching.

“Kids all across Tennessee deserve adults who will support them, cheer for them, and are champions for them,” said Cicely Woodard, a teacher at West End Middle Prep. “Our students need more educators who will listen to them and who want them to be successful in the future.”

More information can be found at

Partners in this work include the Hyde Family Foundations, Nashville Public Education Foundation, Memphis Education Fund, Public Education Foundation Chattanooga, Conexión Américas, Lipscomb University, Teach for America Nashville, Crisp Communications, Tennessee Charter School Center and the Tennessee Department of Education.