Dear Friends,

“Mountains cannot be surmounted except by winding paths,” author and statesman Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe wrote. After two weeks of successful administration of the TNReady assessment, many educational stakeholders in our state feel like we are about to crest a summit after a challenging trek.

TNReady is the culmination of a push to raise student achievement in Tennessee that started in 2007. From the beginning, the student-focused plan relied on setting higher expectations in the classroom and measuring how well our students are meeting those expectations with a high-quality assessment. The work began with raising academic standards and creating an evaluation system to give teachers feedback for improving instruction. The first year of full implementation of TNReady puts in place a measuring stick that fully aligns with the standards. Any endeavor that is difficult but worthwhile brings some unexpected trials, but today Tennessee is closer than ever to preparing every student for postsecondary education and the workforce.

Educators have done Herculean work in providing the instruction that students need for TNReady, and SCORE and Expect More, Achieve More wanted to provide support. Beginning soon after school started last fall, these two organizations have collaborated with the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) and district leaders to provide TNReady information, and sometimes inspiration, to teachers, parents, and students.

Radio public service announcements and digital advertising campaigns shared news about the value of TNReady and reductions in the testing schedule. Districts distributed around 350,000 brochures to help parents understand the value of TNReady, while teachers handed out 15,000 TNReady bookmarks assuring students, “You’ve Got This!” Professional development sessions led by teachers and TDOE helped more than 750 teachers learn how to use the new TNReady score reports to inform instruction, and more of these sessions are planned for later this year. Lunch and learn meetings updated community leaders on TNReady. I think my favorite collaboration was to distribute a letter of encouragement from Governor Haslam and No. 2 pencils to 250,000 elementary students taking TNReady for the first time.

These collaborative efforts underscore that we Tennesseans are in this together for our students. As teachers, parents, community members, and policymakers, we all share the collective responsibility of educating our young people. As Expect More, Achieve More puts it, we all want our students to be ready – for school, career, and life. TNReady, and the information it will provide for improving student learning, matters to delivering that future to our students.

Very truly yours,