A new policy memo released by the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) shows no correlation between the governance structure of t state boards of education and student achievement, leading to the conclusion that, “the state should continue with the critical work of implementing its ambitious policy agenda under the current system… rather than disrupt the state board governance model.”

Analyzing data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the report concludes that the method of selecting the boards has no impact on student achievement. The seven-page memo includes careful analysis of the Tennessee State Board of Education (SBE) composition, priorities, recent decisions, the interaction between the SBE and the Tennessee Department of Education, and the four primary selection models for state boards of education across the United States. The report also provides a thorough history of the Tennessee SBE, illustrating how board members span gubernatorial administrations and interacts with stakeholders around Tennessee (including parents, non-profits, and institutions of higher education) to craft thoughtful policies that improve student achievement.

The memo concludes by offering three key points in support of the current method of selection SBE members:

  • The current structure reflects the diversity of Tennessee. The SBE represents each congressional district and is diverse in age, gender, and occupation. Additionally, the selection of SBE members by the governor and approval by the General Assembly unifies state policymakers around a vision for improving education in Tennessee.
  • Tennessee SBE structure is well-aligned with the majority of states There are 33 states that have fully appointed state boards of education. There is no compelling data to indicate that electing state boards may be tied to significant benefits for student achievement.
  • The SBE is delivering results for Tennessee Students. Under the state’s current model, Tennessee has shown strong early results in raising student achievement. Tennessee’s 2013 NAEP results show the greatest growth of any state in a test cycle since the test began measuring all states 10 years ago. Over the last decade, the SBE has focused on several key education initiatives, including teacher evaluation and support, differentiated compensation, and rigorous academic standards for Tennessee students.

In the current General Assembly session, legislation was introduced that would require the election of Tennessee State Board of Education members.

Read the full policy memo.