Tennessee has done the work to earn DQC’s state Action 9, and is currently one of only six states to have done so. Bravo, Tennessee!

What does that mean, you ask?

Every year, DQC analyzes states’ progress toward supporting effective data use though Data for Action. The survey asks all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia to report on their progress in ensuring effective data use in their state based on our 10 State Actions. While all states are making progress, some of the work takes more investment and policy focus than others. One such piece is Action 9, which reflects states’ ability to implement policies and practices that ensure educators know how to access, analyze, and use data effectively.

Ok, you may wonder, what does that entail? Quite a few things, actually, and you can learn more about them all here. I would like to highlight one key piece of the work in which Tennessee has emerged as a leader.

Tennessee has long been a leader in sharing data about teacher preparation programs with policymakers and the public. The state also shares those data with the teacher preparation programs themselves – a vital piece of DQC’ Action 9. Sharing data about teacher preparation is an important step in improving the educator pipeline. When teacher preparation programs have quality data about how their graduates are performing on the job, they can identify their own strengths and weaknesses and make program changes to better serve their graduates, and the students they teach.

Having data about teacher preparation program quality also helps districts and schools make more informed decisions about the candidates they hire. Is the University of Tennessee turning out the best middle school math teachers, or is it MTSU? Having this kind of aggregate information on new hires provides district and school leaders with one extra piece of information about who is the best person for which classroom.

Transparency about how teacher preparation programs are performing provides policymakers with an even more robust picture of teacher quality in their state. While available data in Tennessee and other states does provide a great picture of how teacher preparation programs are faring, these data do not capture every teacher prepared at Tennessee institutions, as many teachers may leave the state. In order to have a more robust picture of how well teacher preparation programs are preparing their graduates, state leaders may want to begin conversations on how to share data with other states.

The more we know about how programs are preparing teachers for the realities of the classroom, the more state policymakers and teacher preparation leaders will be able to respond to the strengths and gaps. Improving our teacher workforce is an ongoing process, and there is a role at every level. By meeting DQC’s Action 9, Tennessee has demonstrated a commitment to not only improving the teacher pipeline, but also empowering teachers with the skills they need to use data to improve student achievement.