A Message from Jamie Woodson


In the past month we have seen evidence of the tremendous progress that Tennessee is making in improving student achievement, as well as data that shows just how much work we have left to do to ensure every child graduates high school prepared for college and the workforce.

The 2010-11 TCAP results released last month showed a seven percent statewide improvement in 3-8 grade math. In 5th grade math, the growth was almost 11%. Clearly, when we expect more of students through higher and more rigorous standards, they achieve more.

The fact, however, that some areas of our state did not make progress clearly shows that the work of reforming our state’s education system must continue. I hope you will take the time to read through this month’s newsletter to get up to date on the work that is being done across the state, join in the conversation about education at The SCORE Sheet blog, and read through the latest education research.

Thanks for all you are doing for Tennessee’s children.



Tennessee Education Update

Tennessee Releases Statewide AYP Results and Requests NCLB Waiver – On July 29, Governor Bill Haslam and Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman announced the state’s Adequate Yearly Progress data (AYP), which measures how well schools performed in meeting academic benchmarks under the federal No Child Left Behind law. While over 800 public schools did not meet AYP, more than half made progress in both reading and math. In addition, Haslam and Huffman announced that Tennessee was seeking regulatory relief from No Child Left Behind, allowing the state to better align its reform efforts with a meaningful and rigorous accountability framework. For details on the AYP results, click here. For details on the waiver request, click here.

2010-11 TCAP Results Released – In early July, the State Department of Education released the latest Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program results. Early results showed Tennessee students in grades 3-8 improved in math and reading by 7 percent and 3.7 percent respectively over last year. At a press conference announcing the results, Commissioner Huffman said that “when standards were raised two years ago, I think it was a hard pill for teachers to swallow — because across the state many kids who had been deemed proficient suddenly were told (they) weren’t proficient anymore under these new higher standards. It would have been easy to complain about it or not embrace it, and instead what people did was they doubled-down and worked harder and did incredible work in the classroom to drive results higher.”

ASD Launches Charter School Application – On Chris Barbic’s first day as Superintendent of Tennessee’s Achievement School District, the ASD announcedthe release of a request for qualifications from organizations interested in opening charter schools in ASD attendance zones for the 2012-13 school year. The ASD also announced it will award $6.8 million in start-up funding as part of the U.S. Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation (i3) grant.

SCORE Update

Southeast Regional Rural Education Summit Recap – SCORE, along with the Ayers Foundation, Niswonger Foundation, Rural School and Community Trust, and Tennessee School Boards Association, kicked off the Southeast Regional Rural Education Summit on July 19. 500 attendees, 14 breakout sessions, and 786 tweets using #ruralsummit later, the Summit concluded. As one attendee remarked, “Excellent; great discussion; now it’s time to get to work.” For an in depth overview, including videos and links to news stories about the event, visit the Summit recap page. Visit SCORE’s Facebook page to view photos from the event.

The SCORE Sheet – Recent posts on The SCORE Sheet blog discuss topics ranging from online learning to the effect of youth homelessness on educational achievement. Visit The SCORE Sheet to join the conversation with parents, policymakers, teachers, and community leaders.

SCORE in the News – “Education reform is a hot topic in Tennessee and across the U.S. In rural communities, improvement is especially important. Our state’s economic future and quality of life depends on it.” SCORE President and CEO Jamie Woodson penned an op-ed on the importance of improving rural education in the Tennessean on July 19. In addition to numerous articles on the Rural Summit, SCORE was also featured in a series of posts in Education Week’s “Rural Education” blog.

Staff Opening – SCORE is currently seeking applicants to join the organization as Director of Policy and Research. A full job description and application information isavailable here.

National and State Education Headlines

High expectations lead to higher TCAP SCOREs
Knoxville News Sentinel (July 14, 2011)
The TCAP results released last month “show how Tennessee’s students respond when challenged – they rise to the occasion. More challenges lie ahead. Great expectations lead to great achievements.”

A High School Dropout’s Midlife Hardships
NPR (July 28, 2011)
This story is the last in a five part series on “America’s Dropout Crisis”. Today, the people who seem to be hurting the most in our sputtering economy are dropouts in their 30s, 40s and 50s. Despite their work experience, some can’t even apply for a new job without proof that they completed high school.

Rediscovering the Importance of Childhood Reading
TN Report (July 14, 2011)
State government has grabbed firmly onto warnings that children whose reading skills are lagging by the third grade face an uphill educational climb from then on.

Our Broken Escalator
NY Times (July 16, 2011)
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof argues that the United States supports schools in Afghanistan because we know that education is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to build a country, but that we’ve forgotten that lesson at home. “In a rural, blue-collar area like Yamhill, traditionally dependent on farming and forestry, school has always been an escalator to opportunity. One of my buddies was Loren, a house painter’s son, who graduated as salutatorian and became a lawyer. That’s the role that education historically has played — but the escalator is now breaking down.”

New Education Research

State Education Agencies as Agents of Change
Center for American Progress, AEI, The Broad Foundation (July, 2011)
This report is an extensive examination of state education agencies since the mid-1990s. The authors conclude that it provides the basis for a complete re-examination of the role of state education agencies and their chiefs in transforming the SEA into an agent of change that can assist districts in the crucial task of remaking public schools to meet the needs of children in the 21st century. Recommendations include granting state education agencies for flexibility in hiring and staffing, encouraging the federal government to provide political cover to states to drive improvement, and partnering with philanthropic foundations to boost agency salaries and recruit staff. Commissioner Kevin Huffman and Governor Bill Haslam are featured on the cover of this report.

Teacher Professional Development in Tennessee – Part 1
Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury (July, 2011)
“Perhaps no other aspect of the teacher-quality system in the United States suffers from an identity crisis as severe as that of professional development.” This report looks at the state of teacher professional development in Tennessee. It focuses state level policy, providing a description of teacher professional development before the changes of First to the Top (FTTT) were implemented, and describes Tennessee’s original plans to change teacher professional development through First to the Top.

Critical Contributions: Philanthropic Investment in Teachers and Teaching
Kronley & Associates and The University of Georgia College of Education
Teacher effectiveness is widely regarded as “what matters most” in fostering improved learning and better student outcomes. Organized philanthropy recognizes this and has made strengthening instruction a priority for years. This report offers a comprehensive analysis of philanthropic strategies and persistent struggles to recruit, develop and retain effective teachers.