NASHVILLE – The State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) today released the following statement from President and CEO David Mansouri about Governor Lee’s announcement of an education-focused special session of the General Assembly in January:

SCORE thinks comprehensive state action is needed in 2021 to address the urgent challenge of helping student learning, especially early literacy, recover from the impact of COVID-19. We applaud Governor Lee and legislative leaders for putting education at the front of the General Assembly agenda.

COVID-19 has disrupted learning at all levels and worsened long-standing inequities for Black and Hispanic students and economically disadvantaged students. Decreased in-person learning also intensified Tennessee’s literacy crisis, with two out of three third-graders not meeting grade-level expectations before the pandemic. Research and efforts by Tennessee school districts prove that more K-3 students can become strong readers when instruction builds foundational skills and knowledge and teachers are supported to implement these practices. Governor Lee and Commissioner Schwinn are wise to elevate literacy as a key issue for the special session.

Schools, districts, higher education institutions, educators, and families need immediate resources to support students. Moving forward, data, especially from statewide assessment, should be used to guide investment toward students who need the most support. The upcoming special session is an opportunity to position Tennessee to make real advances in education’s recovery.