A Message from Jamie Woodson


This past week, SCORE was proud to announce the 12 finalists for the 2011 SCORE Prize Award. In awarding the SCORE Prize, we aim to recognize those schools and districts that have done the hard work of education reform, highlight and share their best practices, and show other schools and districts throughout Tennessee that improvement is possible. The SCORE Prize will be awarded at a special awards event on September 20 at the historic Ryman Auditorium.  The night will also feature a performance by country music star Josh Turner.  I hope you will visit the SCORE Prize website to learn more about the selection process and RSVP for the event.

To complement the data-driven SCORE Prize, SCORE is also celebrating teachers, school administrators, parents, and education-reform activists across Tennessee by collecting and sharing personal stories of how schools are boosting student performance. Have you seen schools rising to the challenge in your own community or across the state? If so, SCORE wants to hear from you about how Tennessee schools are driving student success. To submit a story, visit the Rise to the Challenge campaign site.

Over the next month, we look forward to highlighting success in Tennessee in preparing kids for college or the workforce. Thanks for all the work you are doing to transform public education in our state.




Tennessee Education Update

Tennessee ACT Scores Dip; Heighten Urgency for Reform – On August 17, ACT released its 2011 “Condition of College and Career Readiness” report, which measures academic performance in the context of college and career readiness by focusing on the number and percentages of students meeting or exceeding the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks. As a release from the Tennessee Department of Education noted, “across the state, 24 percent of students are college-ready in math, 55 percent in English, 38 percent in reading and 17 percent in science.” In response to the report, Commissioner Kevin Huffman remarked that “these results are unacceptable, and we have to do more to ensure that our high school students’ academic results align with their aspirations.” SCORE President and CEO Jamie Woodson remarked that “whether our students choose to attend trade schools, community colleges or four-year universities, it is critical that they have a solid K-12 foundation.”

Deal Reached In Shelby County Consolidation Standoff – An agreement was reached on August 24 in the consolidation of Memphis City and Shelby County schools. The settlement approved by U.S. District Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays calls for a 23-member unified countywide board to take over October 1. For more details on the agreement, click here.

Tennessee Moves Up in Kids Count Report – The 2011 Kids Count report, released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, shows that Tennessee has moved up to 39th in the nation in a composite ranking of the well-being of children and teens. This is the first time the state has moved out of the bottom 10. Linda O’Neill, the Executive Director of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, blogged about the significance of the release, saying that it “shows how good public policies and quality public-private and state-local partnerships make a difference in improving outcomes for Tennessee children.”


SCORE Update

The SCORE Sheet – Recent posts on The SCORE Sheet blog include Teach for America corps member Scott Dieter’s post on why college prep starts in kindergarten, SCORE President and CEO Jamie Woodson’s post on Tennessee being the fastest improving state in the nation in education, and State Senator Andy Berke’s post on creating better jobs opportunities through higher levels of college attainment. Visit The SCORE Sheet to join the conversation with parents, policymakers, teachers, and community leaders.

SCORE Partners Host Webinar – The Rural School and Community Trust will be hosting a webinar on September 21 to focus on the Niswonger Foundation’s Northeast Tennessee College and Career Ready Consortium. The Consortium serves approximately 26,100 high school students in 29 high schools and is focused on ensuring all students, especially students from under-represented populations, graduate from high school prepared for college or career and that those who choose to attend college are able to successfuly complete their degree.  For more information about the webinar, click here.


National and State Education Headlines

Five big education ideas headed TN’s way
Tennessean (August 28, 2011)
Tennessee is gaining a reputation as a testing ground for educational trends. Three years ago, the state began rewriting its curriculum and rethinking the way it dealt with educators. The resulting changes won Tennessee a half-billion-dollar federal grant to attempt to move students from among the lowest-achieving in the nation to the top of the pack.  The five big ideas that are headed Tennessee’s way are the pre-k movement, the use of GPS in learning, the handing over of public schools to charter management organizations, restructuring teacher pay, and next generation science standards.

Pushing parents to get involved in kids’ education
LA Times (September 3, 2011)
Scads have been written the last few years about education reform, teacher evaluations and funding shortages. But relatively little has been written about two parties with huge control over the quality of any child’s education: the student and the parent.

Chris Barbic leaps at chance to help Tennessee’s lowest-performing schools
Tennessean (September 2, 2011)
As the new superintendent of the state’s Achievement School District, Chris Barbic is co-managing five of the state’s lowest-performing schools in Memphis and Chattanooga this year. Next year, he will have to decide if he wants to continue the co-management — working with the schools’ current districts — turn the schools into charters or take them over completely.

Give principals more options on teachers
Commercial Appeal (August 27, 2011)
Today, only 4 percent of MCS students who graduate are college-ready, limiting their future and threatening the economic stability of our community and our country. The picture is even grimmer for those students affected by the racial and socioeconomic performance gap. In this state of crisis, we need to ensure we are giving our hardest-hit students access to the excellent educational opportunities they deserve.


New Education Research

Legislative Report
Southern Regional Education Board (September, 2011)
This report discusses final legislative and budget actions related to education in Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. In Tennessee, “elementary and secondary schools will continue to pursue education reform based on the state’s comprehensive Race to the Top (RTTT) plan.”