Over the past several years, the collaborative efforts of educators, policymakers, parents, and students have helped Tennessee become the fastest-improving state in the nation for academic achievement, second only to the District of Columbia. Our educators and students have shown us what is possible when we set the bar high. We are seeing the potential of Tennessee students grow every day, and our work this year must support continued growth. It is in that spirit that SCORE released the 2014-15 State of Education in Tennessee report to reflect on the important progress we have made as a state and to recommit to the important work ahead.
The 72-page report was released on January 16, 2015, by SCORE’s founder and chairman, Senator Bill Frist, M.D., at an event attended by 150 education partners from across Tennessee, including members of the General Assembly, leaders from the Tennessee Department of Education, and K-12 and postsecondary educators. The report provides a comprehensive review of Tennessee’s recent work to improve K-12 student academic achievement and identifies four central priorities for Tennessee’s education efforts in the year ahead.
The top two priorities call for the continued and improved implementation of Tennessee’s state standards, as well as the selection and implementation of high-quality assessments that are nationally benchmarked and aligned to these standards. The report recommends refraining from making changes to academic standards while the public review process initiated by Governor Haslam and the State Board of Education is ongoing. It also calls for Tennessee to move toward fewer but better assessment by giving more support to districts in selecting formative assessments to work with TNReady, the new statewide summative assessment, and conducting a statewide inventory of the amount of testing going on in our schools.
Additionally, the report emphasizes the need to elevate the teaching profession in Tennessee and to transform instruction through high quality school leadership that meets local needs. These four priorities detailed in the report have been drawn from hours of thoughtful conversations with teachers, principals, school district leaders, business leaders, policymakers, and state-level education leaders as well as an examination of the work underway in our schools and classrooms that is delivering the best results for students.
We have a shared vision that every student in Tennessee graduates high school prepared for college and the workforce. It will take the dedication of all partners in the work to help Tennessee reach this goal. I look forward to collaborating with you over the coming year to advance the report’s priorities in order to progress toward making this goal a reality.
Very sincerely yours,