When Governor Haslam said in his State of the State address that he wants Tennessee to lead the nation in public education, his challenge matched what SCORE heard from Tennesseans last summer.

During a series of statewide conversations, Tennessee educators, parents, and business and community leaders in urban, suburban, and rural areas across the state told SCORE that they want Tennessee students to rank at the top academically. The governor said Monday evening, “I don’t just want us to compete; I want us to be the best.”  We couldn’t agree more.

SCORE released, Excellence For All: How Tennessee Can Lift Our Students To Best In The Nation two months ago based on the input of nearly 1,700 Tennesseans and a review of research on what moves student achievement. Excellence For All sets a vision for K-12 public education and lays out five student-focused priorities – teaching, literacy, school leadership, postsecondary readiness, and historically underserved children – for ensuring the state’s unprecedented growth in academic achievement continues through 2025.

Governor Haslam’s budget proposes to increase teacher compensation by $55 million, add $4.4 million for reading education, invest $1.75 million in development of strong school leaders, and appropriate $13.3 million for more Response to Intervention and Instruction positions to support students with the greatest needs.

Another of the governor’s points echoed what SCORE heard from stakeholders last year: Keep in place policies that help drive student achievement, including high standards, assessments, and educator evaluations tied to student achievement. “I’m asking you to stand with me to ensure that we don’t back up now,” Governor Haslam said. “Not now. Not this year. Not next year. Not ever.”

The governor’s remarks made clear that education continues to be a top priority and that his administration will push for even greater progress rather than rest on its laurels. With agreement on the top education issues and right approaches, Tennessee is positioned to accept the challenge to lead the way in K-12 public education, meet the expectations of our citizens, and, most importantly, lift our students to best in the nation.