SCORE Statement On Tennessee Pathways Announcement

NASHVILLE – The State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) has released this statement from SCORE Director of Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness Samantha Gutter about today’s announcement that Tennessee Pathways is aligning with the Drive to 55 to accelerate work across the state:

Ensuring that high schools propel students toward successful postsecondary studies and careers is one of the top priorities for Tennessee education for the next eight years. Parents and employers tell SCORE they are concerned that too many students graduate from high school underprepared for the demands of higher education and the workforce. Education and business leaders have identified better coordination of the state’s existing programs as one need, so aligning Tennessee Pathways with Drive to 55 and providing coordinators for all regions are sensible next steps. It will take a clear vision, greater collaboration and coordination, and innovative and focused solutions to fully prepare students to maximize the opportunities that will lead to fulfilling and prosperous work-lives.

SCORE Selects 37 Educators For 2018-19 Tennessee Educator Fellowship

NASHVILLE – Thirty-seven educators have been selected for the 2018-19 class of the Tennessee Educator Fellowship, the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) announced today.

 “The Tennessee Educator Fellowship has brought together dynamic and talented educators who are passionate advocates for education policies and practices that can improve student achievement,” SCORE Executive Chairman and CEO Jamie Woodson said. “The fellows’ diverse perspectives and experiences are invaluable as they work both inside and outside the classroom and participate in state conversations on preparing all students for postsecondary and workforce success.”

The Tennessee Educator Fellowship is a yearlong program that helps teachers, school counselors, and librarians learn about education policy and equips them to advocate for their students and their profession. The educators chosen this year work in a variety of settings: traditional public schools, public magnet schools, public charter schools, public Montessori schools, an alternative academy within a public school and a school dedicated to serving children with multiple disabilities.

Since 2014, the fellowship has supported nearly 150 teachers to engage in the discussion about education policy by speaking at public events, inviting policymakers into their classrooms, writing about their experiences in state and national publications, creating regional professional networks and serving on state-level policy committees.

“The 37 fellows bring unique perspectives to the table—from different backgrounds, grade levels, subjects and regions of the state—to focus on ensuring greater academic achievement and growth for all Tennessee students,” SCORE Educator Engagement Associate Leigh Cooksey said.

This is the fifth year of the Tennessee Educator Fellowship. The fellows chosen for the 2018-19 cohort have a combined teaching experience of 474 years and represent elementary, middle and high schools in 24 districts across East, Middle and West Tennessee. The members of this cohort teach English language arts, math, science, social studies, information technology and special education in urban, suburban and rural schools. The cohort also includes a librarian and several educators who serve as school counselors. Additionally, 41 percent of this year’s fellows identify as educators of color, better representing the diversity of Tennessee’s student body.

The 2018-19 Tennessee Educator Fellows are:

Nathan Bailey teaches career technical education at Sullivan North High School in Sullivan County Schools. Bailey has been teaching for nine years.

Kalisha Bingham-Marshall teaches seventh-grade math at Bolivar Middle School in Hardeman County Schools. Bingham-Marshall has been teaching for seven years.

Sam Brobeck teaches eighth-grade math at Memphis Grizzlies Preparatory Charter Middle School in Shelby County Schools. Brobeck has been teaching for three years.

Monica Brown teaches fourth-grade English language arts and social studies at Oakshire Elementary School in Shelby County Schools. Brown has been teaching for 11 years.

Dr. Nick Brown is a school counselor at Westmoreland Elementary School in Sumner County Schools. Brown has worked in education for eight years.

Dr. Sherwanda Y. Chism teaches grades 3-5 English language arts and gifted education at Winridge Elementary School in Shelby County Schools. Chism has been teaching for 20 years.

Richard J. Church teaches grades 7-8 at Liberty Bell Middle School in Johnson City Schools. Church has been teaching for 19 years.

Ada Collins teaches third grade at J.E. Moss Elementary School in Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools. Collins has been teaching for eight years.

Lynn Cooper is a school counselor at South Pittsburg High School in Marion County Schools. Cooper has worked in education for 17 years.

Colletta M. Daniels teaches grades 2-4 special education at Shrine School in Shelby County Schools. Daniels has been teaching for six years.

Brandy Eason is a school counselor at Scotts Hill Elementary School in Henderson County Schools. Eason has worked in education for 4½ years.

Heather Eskridge is a school counselor at Walter Hill Elementary School in Rutherford County Schools. Eskridge has worked in education for 20 years.

Mavis Clark Foster teaches fifth-grade English language arts and science at Green Magnet Academy in Knox County Schools. Clark Foster has been teaching for 16 years.

Ranita Glenn teaches grades 2-5 reading at Hardy Elementary School in Hamilton County Department of Education. Glenn has been teaching for 11 years.

Telena Haneline teaches first grade at Eaton Elementary School in Loudon County Schools. Haneline has been teaching for 19 years.

Dr. Tenesha Hardin teaches first grade at West Creek Elementary School in Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools. Hardin has been teaching for 17 years.

Thaddeus Higgins teaches grades 9-12 social studies at Unicoi County High School in Unicoi County Schools. Higgins has been teaching for 3½ years.

Neven Holland teaches fourth-grade math at Treadwell Elementary School in Shelby County Schools. Holland has been teaching for three years.

Alicia Hunker teaches sixth-grade math at Valor Flagship Academy in Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools. Hunker has been teaching for 10 years.

Alex Juneau teaches third grade at John Pittard Elementary School in Murfreesboro City Schools. Juneau has been teaching for 11 years.

Lyndi King teaches fifth-grade English language arts at Decatur County Middle School in Decatur County Schools. King has been teaching for six years.

Rebecca Ledebuhr teaches eighth-grade math at STEM Preparatory Academy in Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools. Ledebuhr has been teaching for eight years.

Dr. Aleisha McCallie teaches fourth-grade math and science at East Brainerd Elementary School in Hamilton County Department of Education. McCallie has been teaching for 12 years.

Brian McLaughlin teaches grades 10-12 math at Morristown-Hamblen High School West in Hamblen County Schools. McLaughlin has been teaching for 10 years.

Caitlin Nowell teaches seventh-grade English language arts at South Doyle Middle School in Knox County Schools. Nowell has been teaching for six years.

Dr. Paula Pendergrass teaches advanced academics resources at Granbery Elementary School in Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools. Pendergrass has been teaching for 23 years.

Julie Pepperman teaches eighth-grade science at Heritage Middle School in Blount County Schools. Pepperman has been teaching for 23 years.

Kelly Piatt is a school counselor at Crockett County High School in Crockett County Schools. Piatt has worked in education for 18 years.

Ontoni Reedy teaches grades 1-3 at Community Montessori in Jackson-Madison County Schools. Reedy has been teaching for eight years.

Tiffany Roberts teaches algebra and geometry at Lincoln County Ninth Grade Academy in Lincoln County Schools. Roberts has been teaching for 26 years.

Craig Robinson teaches grades 3-5 science at Georgian Hills Achievement Elementary in the Achievement School District. Robinson has been teaching for four years.

Jen Semanco teaches 10th- and 11th-grade English language arts at Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy in Hamilton County Department of Education. Semanco has been teaching for 16 years.

Amanda Smithfield is a librarian at Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet School in Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools. Smithfield has worked in education for 23 years.

Cyndi Snapp teaches fourth-grade math at Carter’s Valley Elementary School in Hawkins County Schools. Snapp has been teaching for 21 years.

David Sneed teaches 12th-grade English at Soddy Daisy High School in Hamilton County Department of Education. Sneed has been teaching for 21 years.

Yolanda Parker Williams teaches fifth-grade math at Karns Elementary School in Knox County Schools. Parker Williams has been teaching for 18 years.

Maury Wood II teaches grades 4-6 technology at Westhills Elementary School in Marshall County Schools. Wood has been teaching for eight years.

Past fellows have led new education initiatives and worked to improve outcomes for all students. Their work has included starting a teacher-nominated leadership academy for students to explore a career in teaching; bringing community leaders into classrooms to discuss the importance of literacy in their careers; advocating for the use of high-quality instructional materials; expanding access to early postsecondary opportunities for students; amplifying the voice, presence, and support for educators of color; and much more. Fellows also have engaged in education conversations at the local, state, and national level and written op-eds and blog posts for news and education outlets like The Tennessean, Education Post, and Hechinger Report.

Throughout the upcoming year, the fellows will learn through in-person and online seminars and will serve as liaisons between their colleagues, their communities, and policymakers as Tennessee continues the work of improving and lifting academic achievement for all students.

The Big Payback: Donate To SCORE To Support The SCORE Prize And Celebrate Schools Improving Outcomes For Students

For the first time, the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) will participate in The Big Payback, an annual day of giving to nonprofits based in Middle Tennessee, to encourage community support and engagement in the SCORE Prize.

The SCORE Prize identifies and honors the Tennessee public schools and school districts that are rising to the challenge of improving student achievement and student outcomes. The SCORE Prize will celebrate these leaders in learning at an event later this year that will be attended by educators and education stakeholders from across Tennessee.

Donations of $10 or more to SCORE during The Big Payback will go directly to supporting this celebration, where SCORE will award $35,000 total to the SCORE Prize winning district and schools.

“The Big Payback is an opportunity for SCORE to engage in a major initiative of the Middle Tennessee nonprofit community and to raise awareness of the important work nonprofits carry out thanks to charitable giving,” SCORE Executive Chairman and CEO Jamie Woodson said. “We also hope to foster greater community interest and support for the schools and districts honored by the SCORE Prize.”

Donate Now

The Big Payback is a 24-hour, online giving event created to help Middle Tennessee nonprofits raise funds to continue their work and directly improve the community around them.

How does the Big Payback work? The day of giving is Wednesday, May 2, from midnight to midnight. Once the clock starts, anyone can visit and support SCORE and other participating nonprofits.

During the past four years of giving days, The Big Payback has made a tremendous impact on the Middle Tennessee community helping raise more than $9.3 million for nearly 1,000 area organizations. Since 2011, the SCORE Prize has impacted 162,880 students by honoring and awarding 10 outstanding school districts and 32 exceptional schools with $275,000 in SCORE Prize Awards and nearly $5,000 in student scholarships.

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.