Priorities Reflect Expanded Vision For Student Success From Kindergarten To Workforce

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — In 2024, Tennessee should focus on strengthening foundational
policies, building effective pathways between education and careers, and ensuring K-12
supports meet student needs, according to a report released today by the State
Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE).

SCORE’s 14th annual report, Building A Brighter Future: 2024 State Of Education In
Tennessee, highlights successes and opportunities in K-12 and postsecondary education
in the past year and identifies research-informed priorities to support Tennessee

During the report release today, David Mansouri, president and CEO of SCORE, said
with SCORE approaching 15 years since its founding, this year’s priorities look to the
next frontier for transforming education in Tennessee.

“We have to recognize the ways in which the education and work landscapes are
evolving. And must make sure our priorities and recommendations evolve at the same
pace,” Mansouri said. “Looking to the future, Tennessee must expand its vision for
education so that each student has the opportunity to succeed in school and be
prepared for a career that enables economic independence.”

The 2024 State Of Education In Tennessee report outlines three priority areas for the
year ahead:

  • Expand student opportunity by strengthening foundational policies. To
    expand student opportunity, the report recommends strengthening some of
    Tennessee’s long-standing foundational policies. Three areas that deserve particular
    attention are longitudinal data, Tennessee Promise, and postsecondary outcomes-based
    funding. These policies are nationally recognized and have contributed to Tennessee’s
    growth in the past decade. As a state committed to continuous student-centered
    improvement, Tennessee must evaluate where these efforts are not meeting their full
    potential and make necessary adjustments.
  • Build effective pathways between education and careers. In today’s education
    landscape, students have a menu of over 1 million unique degree and credential
    opportunities, but not all of those opportunities have the same return on investment. It
    is critical for students to have a complete picture of the earning potential of degrees
    and credentials. With an understanding of what skills are most valued by employers,
    the state can help drive data-driven partnerships between education and industry. Early
    postsecondary and career experiences are another valuable tool for preparing students
    for success in life. Tennessee has long prioritized experiences like dual enrollment,
    career-technical education and work-based learning. In 2024, it’s important that we
    establish mechanisms to evaluate the quality of these opportunities. The report
    highlights the need for data access so that we can monitor how students are moving
    through the education pipeline and incentivize opportunities that result in improved
    student outcomes.
  • Ensure K-12 supports meet student needs. K-12 schools and districts have
    experienced several major policy and practice changes in the last three years. These
    changes include the adoption of a new and nationally recognized K-12 student-based
    funding formula, the introduction of several strategies to bolster the teacher pipeline,
    and the launch of important high-dosage tutoring and summer programs to support
    student learning. In the coming year, we need to identify ways to meet student needs
    in the context of these many recent and important changes. The report urges support
    for prospective, new and veteran educators at each stage of their careers, along with
    evaluating and building on initiatives such as Grow Your Own. Additionally, the state
    should adopt a plan for instructional coherence to maximize learning for the state’s
    lowest-performing students, and it should ensure facilities funding for public charter
    schools, which primarily serve students of color and economically disadvantaged

Senator Bill Frist, MD, founder and chairman of SCORE, says meeting the goals
outlined in the report will require a new strategic alignment, as well as a commitment
from all Tennesseans.

“The work to build a brighter future for Tennessee students will take all of us, and it will
be a continuous journey,” Frist said. “We have no doubt that with our shared advocacy
and clear focus, Tennessee will shape an education system that is aligned to the new
realities of our state’s labor market and, most importantly, gives students the
opportunities they need and deserve.”

SCORE presented the report findings during an event at the Tennessee State Museum
in Nashville that included a panel discussion of 2024 education priorities. Speakers
included: the Honorable Alberto Gonzales, Dean and Doyle Rogers Professor of Law,
Belmont University; Charlie Friedman, founder and executive director, Nashville
Classical Charter School; Dr. Jean Luna-Vedder, director of schools, Clarksville-
Montgomery County School System; Deniece Thomas, commissioner, Tennessee
Department of Labor and Workforce Development; and Dr. Michael Torrence, president,
Motlow State Community College.

Today’s event is one of three discussions SCORE is hosting with leaders statewide to
generate dialogue around Tennessee’s education priorities for the upcoming year.
SCORE will host West Tennessee leaders in Memphis on December 12 at the National
Civil Rights Museum and East Tennessee leaders in Chattanooga on December 14 at the
Construction Career Center.

Download the 2024 State Of Education In Tennessee report.