Dear Friends,

As the new year approaches, I am thinking about the opportunity that lies ahead for our students in not just 2018, but over the course of the next eight years.

It was not too long ago that Tennessee set out to make unprecedented improvements for our students. Tennessee became the fastest-improving state for academic achievement in 2013 thanks to a shared vision, a commitment to focus on what is best for students, and much hard work.

While the academic success of the past 10 years is tremendous and must be celebrated, we know there is much more to be done for our students. Tennesseans next want our students to be ranked among the best in the nation, and they have clear ideas for how we can achieve that. We received feedback from nearly 1,700 Tennesseans this year who believe that our state must be committed to excellence for all students so they can graduate ready to make the most of every opportunity that lies ahead such as earning degrees, serving in the military, and going into a career.

The State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) recently released a new report, Excellence For All: How Tennessee Can Lift Our Students To Best In The Nation, that sets a collaborative vision for Tennessee student achievement to continue over the next eight years. The five student-focused, research-based priorities are grounded in goals already set by SCORE and in the Tennessee Succeeds strategic plan.

Next year, Tennessee voters will select our next governor and fill at least 20 open seats in the General Assembly. As Tennesseans face those important decisions, they need a good understanding of why our students are achieving at higher levels than they were 10 years ago and what our students need for even greater academic success.

The Excellence For All report is both a vision plan and an action plan to take Tennessee students farther – and faster – academically. I look forward to collaborating with all of you to lift our students to even greater academic heights over the next eight years.

Very truly yours,