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.


Students Rise to the Challenge Video Competition Semi-finalists

Ten semi-finalists are competing in SCORE’s 2013 Students Rise to the Challenge scholarship competition.

They have produced videos to tell their stories about innovative things happening in their classrooms and schools that make them excited about learning and better prepared for their futures. Their videos make it clear there are some pretty interesting things going on in Tennessee schools, from spending a class in a freezer, to reading and studying in a media center, to running an online video network, to attending math academy.

Tennessee public school students in grades three through twelve submitted dozens of entries for Students Rising to the Challenge, and now we need your help to pick the best. The three finalists will come to Nashville on October 28 for the SCORE Prize event, where they will meet country music star Jo Dee Messina and find out who wins the competition and a $500 scholarship.

The semi-finalists are listed below in alphabetical order. Watch the videos, pick your favorite, and then cast your vote by going to SCORE’s Facebook page. Hurry! We must have your vote by 5 p.m. Central, October 11. Continue reading

Statewide Survey Shows Tennesseans Support Higher Academic Standards

The State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) released today the results from a statewide public opinion poll focused on voter perceptions of Tennessee’s work to raise academic expectations through the Common Core State Standards. The survey, commissioned by SCORE and conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner Research, was conducted on May 6-7 & 9, 2013. Trend data from the survey build on a similar statewide survey released by SCORE in the fall of 2012.

“High academic standards are a critical piece of Tennessee’s work to improve student achievement,” said Jamie Woodson, President and CEO of SCORE. “These results show that citizen awareness of Tennessee’s Common Core State Standards is increasing and that there is solid support for the implementation of these higher standards across the partisan and ideological spectrum.” Continue reading

Education and journalism leaders join SCORE team

The State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) announced today that Dr. Jared Bigham will join the organization as Director of College and Career Readiness and Teresa Wasson will join the organization as Deputy Director of Communications. Bigham and Wasson will enhance the organization’s college and career-readiness work, communicating about and advocating for Tennessee’s efforts to ensure that all students graduate from high school prepared for postsecondary education and the workforce. Continue reading

WATCH LIVE: 2012-13 State of Education in Tennessee Report Release

On Tuesday, February 5 at 11 AM Central, please join us online as former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, SCORE’s Founder and Chairman, presents the 2012-13 Report and moderates a panel of education stakeholders to reflect on priorities for the year ahead. Click below at 11 am on Tuesday, February 5 to watch the report release live. In the meantime, follow SCORE’s Twitter page for updates on the run up to the SCORE Institute.

Streaming video by Ustream

WATCH LIVE: A candid conversation with Governors Bill Haslam and Jeb Bush

On Monday, January 14, SCORE is hosting a candid conversation between Governors Bill Haslam and Jeb Bush to discuss what transformational education reform needs to look like to improve outcomes for students. If you are not able to attend this SCORE Institute event in person, live streaming of the entire event will be available below. Please check back at 12:45 PM CT when the event starts. In the meantime, follow SCORE’s Twitter page for updates on the run up to the SCORE Institute.

Live broadcasting by Ustream

2012 SCORE prize highlight video

The highlight video of the 2012 SCORE Prize event has launched on the SCORE Prize website. The video includes remarks from the October 8 event featuring Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader and SCORE Chairman Bill Frist and Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, as well as clips of the winners and our musical guest, Phil Vassar. Please watch this video and visit the SCORE Prize website to learn more about the best practices used by the finalists and winners.