The State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) released on Tuesday, the 2012-13 State of Education in Tennessee report. The report provides a comprehensive update of the state’s progress in improving student achievement, analyzes the work that has occurred over the last year that has contributed to achievement gains, and provides recommendations to ensure that Tennessee continues on the pathway of preparing all of our students for success in college and the workforce.
“Tennessee is marking the beginning of a dramatic turnaround in student achievement,” said SCORE Founder and Chairman Bill Frist. “The hard work of a broad range of partners has helped Tennessee’s students make the most academic progress in the state’s history. Much work remains in the year ahead to sustain and accelerate these improvements and ensure that all our students are graduating with the skills they need to compete in the global economy.”
The 2012-13 State of Education in Tennessee
report identifies five priorities which focus on the actions SCORE believes must be taken to ensure that Tennessee continues its work to become the fastest improving state in the country. The 2013 priorities include:
- Sustained Policy Leadership - Tennessee has made significant reforms in education over the past several years, reforms that have led to important early gains in student achievement. As the work has expanded from the removal of policy barriers to include implementation, the state must remain committed to ensuring reforms are effectively implemented.
- Foster Great Teaching - 2013 should be the year when Tennessee ensures that the most effective candidates are teaching our students. To do this, we must make standards for teacher recruitment and licensing more rigorous.
- Support Effective School Leadership - This area remains one of high priority in Tennessee. Specifically, school leader preparation programs should establish a rigorous selection process and curriculum requirements that prioritize the skills and knowledge instructional leaders need, and school districts should develop clear opportunities for teachers to serve in leadership roles.
- Use Technology to Enhance Learning - Tennessee must develop a thoughtful, well-informed strategy to develop the technological capacity in schools and school districts.
- Empower Parents - It is important to empower parents with the resources and supports they need to help their children succeed, particularly as the state raises the bar in the classroom through the Common Core State Standards. This means that schools and districts must engage families in sharing data and setting goals for students.
The full report details specific recommendations in each priority area.
"These five priorities will be critical to sustaining and accelerating Tennessee’s work to improve student achievement in the year ahead,” said SCORE President and CEO Jamie Woodson. “All partners have a unique role to play in each of these priority areas. As the link between producing an educated workforce and creating jobs remains of critical importance, it is imperative that we continue on our pathway of improvement.”
To gauge additional feedback on the state of public education in Tennessee, SCORE also released Tuesday a statewide public opinion survey focused on a range of public education issues. Highlights of the survey, which was commissioned by SCORE and conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner Research, include:
- Tennessee voters strongly value public education and the need to improve student achievement. In particular, voters view improving public education as the most important element of improving the state’s economy.
- Eighty percent of voters strongly agree that to really get ahead in life a person needs at least some education beyond high school, whether that means university, community college, or technical or vocational school. This is an 11-point increase over a similar question asked in a SCORE-commissioned survey in 2010.
- Voters overwhelmingly support the state’s recent reform efforts. As an example, 78 percent of voters support Tennessee’s new teacher evaluation system, support that is consistent across parties, regions of the state, and other demographic groups. In 2010, only 40 percent of voters supported the state’s new evaluation system. This is an increase of almost 40 percent.
- Tennessee voters believe in the importance of high expectations for all students. Almost six-in-ten voters say academic requirements for students in Tennessee’s public schools should be raised, while only 6 percent say standards should be lowered. In addition, 68 percent of voters believe that increasing academic and graduation requirements in public high schools will better prepare students for further education and the workforce after they graduate.
- Tennessee’s work to raise standards is grounded in the Common Core State Standards—a set of standards, developed by state leaders, that is designed to help prepare students for the workforce and college readiness. While the majority of Tennesseans have not heard of the Common Core standards, when given brief descriptions of the standards almost 80 percent favor them.
“These data are important because they show that Tennessee voters are receptive to change, they value public education and the work to improve student achievement, and Tennesseans support our state’s reform efforts – from raising academic standards to identifying and supporting great teaching,” Frist said.
The 2012-13 State of Education in Tennessee report can be viewed online here
The report can also be downloaded here
The statewide opinion survey results can be viewed here