A Message from Jamie Woodson


September 20 was a special night! The first annual SCORE Prize event, held at the historic Ryman Auditorium, truly celebrated success in public education in Tennessee. Throughout the evening, winners and finalists were lifted up for the work they are doing, work that proves that even in the face of challenges it is possible to improve learning outcomes for all students. As Senator Bill Frist remarked, the event was “a celebration for the hard work that teachers, principals, and superintendents are doing around the state, a celebration of their discipline, their dedication, their sacrifice for the benefit of students of today and of tomorrow — a huge success.”

SCORE is committed to highlighting best practices in education, practices that can be replicated in schools and districts across our state to improve student achievement. In the coming weeks, watch for more in depth videos and case studies about the SCORE Prize finalists, work that will share the stories of how these schools have risen to the challenge and achieved more.

Yetta Lewis, the Chief Academic Officer at SCORE Prize middle school winner Power Center Academy, reminds us that the work to transform Tennessee’s education system continues. “We know our work here has just begun. We want to have our students career-ready, college-ready and community-ready.”





Tennessee Education Update

Tennessee Department of Education Releases Strategic Plan – On September 30, the Tennessee Department of Education released its strategic plan, which outlines its strategies for supporting school districts in reaching academic goals. Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman said the state will seek to expand students’ access to effective teachers and leaders; improve families’ access to good schools; expand educators’ access to resources and best practices; and provide the public better access to information and data. “Everything we do in this department should be focused on making sure Tennessee kids learn more every day, and Tennessee educators are supported in the important work that they do,” Huffman said. “The goals we set out in Race to the Top are our department’s goals, and we will work diligently to become the fastest-improving state in the nation.” To read the details of the plan, click here.

Teacher Tenure Reform Wins National Education Reform Award – Tennessee’s law that ties teacher tenure to student performance was recognized by the members of the Policy Innovators in Education (PIE) Network as a leading education reform advance of the past year at the “Eddies!” Awards ceremony in Seattle on September 27. “Each of the awards recognizes some aspect of the overall effort to improve the quality of education in schools all across the country.” said Suzanne Tacheny Kubach, executive director of the PIE Network.

2011 Grants Available – The Tennessee College Access and Success Network recently announced 2011 grants for Tennessee schools, districts, and non-profit organizations to create or expand college access programs. For more information about the grants, visit the Network’s website.


SCORE Update

The SCORE Prize – On September 20, SCORE announced the four winners of the first annual SCORE Prize Award at an event at the historic Ryman Auditorium. The winners, three schools and one school district, were recognized for dramatically improving student achievement in spite of the challenges they face. The awards show featured remarks from Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, SCORE Chairman and former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman, and SCORE CEO Jamie Woodson. The evening concluded with a performance by Grammy-nominated country music artist Josh Turner. To view photos from the event, visit SCORE’s facebook page.

Rise to the Challenge Campaign – Throughout September, SCORE celebrated teachers, school administrators, parents, and education-reform activists across Tennessee by collecting and sharing personal stories of how schools are boosting student performance. Dozens of stories were submitted from across the state, and Mikki Williams’s story was selected, through a Facebook poll, as the winner. Mikki assists students in pursuing further education or entering the workforce by running the Jobs for Tennessee Graduates program at Perry County High School. Read and share Mikki’s story by clicking here. Congratulations Mikki!

National and State Education Headlines

Dave Eggers Says Teachers Should Make More
NPR (September 29, 2011)
Writer Dave Eggers argues the best way to attract great teachers is to pay them more. Eggers and activist Ninive Calegari co-founded the Teacher Salary Project to raise awareness about the low salaries that they say drive many teachers from the classroom.

Haslam boosts TN’s education profile
Tennessean (October 1, 2011)
Gov. Bill Haslam has thrust Tennessee’s efforts to reform its education system into the national spotlight with a pair of high-profile appearances, drawing attention while also tying his image to the state’s performance. The underlying theme behind all these developments: by linking teacher tenure and job evaluations to student performance, lifting restrictions on charter schools, and bolstering requirements for a high school diploma, Tennessee has become a national leader in education reform.

Lamar Alexander: Let states control schools
Politico (September 27, 2011)
Alexander’s proposed legislation would dismantle yearly progress requirements set out in No Child Left Behind, the Bush administration’s landmark education policy reform, instead requiring each state to set its own standards for teachers and students. Alexander also continued to push for the expansion of charter schools, which he said “have been shown to improve student-achievement in under-performing districts.”

The Latest from the SCORE Sheet

Jim TracyEducation on the Hill: Evaluations Designed to Support Teachers
By State Senator Jim Tracy
(October 3, 2011)
A good friend of mine that had worked in education in Tennessee for many years told me before he passed away that change is hard and slow, and in education it is often harder and slower. With the implementation of the new TEAM (Tennessee Educator Acceleration Model) evaluation system, I believe that statement is true. I also believe that this reform is necessary to improve the performance of our students and be competitive nationwide.

Greg Thompson The Great College Debate
By Greg Thompson, CEO, Tennessee Charter School Incubator
(October 6, 2011)
Why should we not do everything we can to maximize career choices for every student? Will every student choose a college-level education? Maybe not. But should we equip them to make that choice? No question.

Celine CogginsEducator Evaluation: Teachers Want to Know
By Celine Coggins, Founder and CEO, TeachPlus
(September 15, 2011)
When Darrell Hugueley, a 7th-grade Language Arts teacher in Memphis, heard that Memphis City Schools was going to revamp the teacher evaluation system, he started to investigate right away. Hugueley became a teacher after many years in sales and management, and as someone who had given and received many evaluations in the business world, he said, “I wanted to see some improvements in how teachers are evaluated. I was looking for some depth of analysis from my administrators.”

ClaireSmekar Why Imperatives Matter: Choice and Democratic Schooling
By Claire Smrekar, Associate Professor of Public Policy and Education at Vanderbilt
(September 30, 2011)
How we measure results in choice schools and compare these outcomes to traditional public schools seems of paramount interest in the rhetoric of school choice, pushing out what I would argue are other, more compelling considerations. We should recall the central role of schools in a democracy: developing students capable of broad participation in the social, economic, and political life of this nation.