The State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) has released this statement from Executive Chair and Chief Executive Officer Jamie Woodson about Tennessee fourth-grade and eighth-grade performance on the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) science assessment.

Tennessee can take real pride in the state science grades on the Nation’s Report Card, which mark the first time that the state has scored in the top 20 in any subject on the assessment. Tennessee fourth-graders and eighth-graders not only grew faster than the nation as a whole, their gains were double the national pace. Tennessee ranked in the top 25 states for the first time on the 2015 NAEP fourth-grade math assessment, and on the science assessment our fourth-graders were 19th in the nation and eighth-graders were 21st.

NAEP, commonly referred to as the Nation’s Report Card, is a yardstick for measuring Tennessee academic performance over time and in comparison to other states. Since the state began raising expectations, strengthening teaching, and emphasizing postsecondary education and workforce readiness for all students, Tennessee academic growth has been fast and sustained in multiple subjects over multiple years. Although proficiency levels are not yet as high as we know our students are capable of achieving, Tennessee’s trend is decidedly in the right direction.

The NAEP science results indicate that the work by teachers, school and district leaders, and parents is putting more Tennessee students on track for the future. The Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University projects Tennessee will have more than 280,000 health, science, technology, and engineering jobs by 2020. What matters most is that Tennessee students are prepared to take advantage of those kinds of opportunities.