State of Education in Tennessee - 2011-12 Report(Nashville) – The State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) today released the 2011-12 State of Education in Tennessee report, the organization’s annual assessment of K-12 public education in Tennessee. SCORE Chairman and former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist presented the report at West End Middle School during SCORE’s quarterly Steering Committee meeting of major education stakeholders from across the state.

“As the link between producing an educated workforce and economic growth remains of critical importance, it is imperative that we focus on the important work of implementation – of turning policy successes into real student achievement gains,” said SCORE Chairman Bill Frist. “In order for the early signs of success to be sustained and accelerated, it is crucial that we remain committed to achieving our state’s education reform goals. We have made a lot of progress. But there is significant work left to do. We must not lose a sense of urgency to improve.”

The report includes a 2011 Year-In-Review in education, highlights four “Promising Practices” of innovative reform efforts across the state, provides a progress update on Tennessee’s First to the Top work, and provides extensive state and district education data from the past year.

The report also identifies four clear priorities for how to continue reform in the year ahead. The priorities highlight the actions that SCORE believes must be taken to ensure that the state can build upon its early gains in student achievement and become the fastest improving state in the country. These priorities include:

  • Sustained policy leadership will continue to be critical as the implementation of Tennessee’s ambitious reform efforts replaces old standards with new approaches. In particular, the state will need to exhibit continued commitment to successful implementation of educator evaluations and high academic standards, even if discomfort with change arises.
  • Robust professional learning for educators that addresses areas of greatest need identified by performance evaluations, to support great teaching. Research shows that great teaching is the number one school-based factor in improving student achievement, and robust professional learning is critical in helping educators improve their instruction. Significant work remains to prepare teachers for the new Common Core State Standards, particularly as the state integrates these standards into the curriculum and adopts computer-based assessments. Professional learning should be ongoing, content-specific, job-embedded, and collaborative.
  • Strengthening teacher preparation programs to ensure new candidates for licensure are prepared to be effective educators once they enter the classroom. This will mean a continued improvement of the Report Card on the Effectiveness of Teacher Training Programs. In addition to enhancing accountability, preparation programs must ensure that their curricula are aligned with the state’s new policies and standards, including the new teacher evaluation system, Common Core standards, and the use of data as an important instructional tool.
  • Expanding and strengthening the principal and administrator pipeline. Effective models for expanding the principal pipeline can be readily found in Tennessee, but more must be done to scale up these successful models. District partnerships with colleges and universities, as well as non-profits and businesses, provide opportunities for building leadership pipelines that can be leveraged to broaden the pool of candidates to lead schools throughout Tennessee. In particular, small and rural districts should consider creating a principal pipeline through consortia models in collaboration with institutions of higher education, as these systems often lack the personnel or capacity to build effective pipelines on their own.

“By maintaining our commitment to implementing an ambitious reform agenda and promoting stronger, better prepared and supported educators and school leaders, Tennessee can continue to lead the nation as a state committed to a better future for its students and graduates,” Frist said.

West End Middle School, where the report release was held, is one of the top performing schools in the state, and has made dramatic gains in narrowing the black-white achievement gap, the Hispanic-white achievement gap, and the economically disadvantaged/non-disadvantaged achievement gap. The school is part of Metro Nashville Public Schools.

The executive summary of the report can be downloaded here.

The full report can be viewed online here.

The full report can be downloaded here.