Dear Friends,

Summer road trips are a quintessential American tradition. They allow us to discover new things and connect with people and places. In 2009, SCORE took a road trip across Tennessee, visiting and getting feedback from people across the state. Those thoughts and conversations led to the release of A Roadmap to Success, which laid out a specific plan for improving Tennessee student achievement and was foundational to the path Tennessee has taken over the last eight years.

This summer, members of our team embarked on a new educational road trip to learn from people across the state. We invited education stakeholders to a series of regional community conversations to hear their ideas on how Tennessee can deliver on the promise of a high-quality education for all students.

These conversations allow us to take a closer look at our progress and future goals and gather thoughts from a diverse set of Tennesseans invested in our state’s K-12 education system. They once again deepened our understanding of both the challenges and successes individual communities face when it comes to preparing all students for a successful future. Some of those challenges are unique to an area, while others are indicative of wider issues across the state.

Among those issues that emerged across the state, three themes emerged:

• An urgency to address reading in the early grades
• A desire to invest in teachers through improvements both in teacher preparation programs and in teacher professional development
• A focus on aligning efforts between businesses, higher education, and K-12 schools to prepare students for next steps after high school.

SCORE has listened carefully during this summer’s road trips, and what you told us is going to shape a new report we plan to release in the fall that can guide the work of better serving students in the coming years.

While we have grown so much as a state, we still have much more to do. It will take participation and collaboration from all partners to achieve our goals for our students. The summer conversations from this summer education “road trip” renewed both our sense of urgency and our commitment to collaboration, so that from Memphis to Chattanooga, Nashville to the Tri-Cities, every student is prepared for their future after high school.

Very truly yours,