State Moving Forward In Educational Improvements

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The State Collaborative on Reforming Education released the following statement from President and CEO Jamie Woodson regarding the 2014 legislative session in Tennessee and HB1549/SB1835, which passed the General Assembly Thursday:

After a year of extensive public and legislative conversation regarding higher academic standards and related strategies to improve student learning, our state is moving forward with the foundational efforts that together have made Tennessee the fastest-improving state in student achievement. We continue to raise academic expectations for students through Tennessee’s Common Core State Standards. We are implementing a teacher evaluation system that supports effective teaching. We have a strong state accountability system. We thank the General Assembly for soundly rejecting many efforts to repeal or delay key student-centered education policies. 

While high academic standards, effective teaching, and accountability for results are vital parts of Tennessee’s work to improve student achievement, so, too, is an accurate measurement of student progress. Tennessee needs good assessments that allow students to show what they know, deliver timely information about student progress to teachers and parents, and reinforce the problem-solving and critical thinking skills students need to succeed in college and careers.

This legislation (HB1549/SB1835) creates a disappointing pause in Tennessee’s efforts to have a high-quality assessment that truly measures student learning. We have supported moving to a new state assessment in the 2014-15 school year because students deserve a more engaging, skills-based assessment that is better aligned with classroom instruction and allows them the opportunity to show how much they have actually learned.  In addition, teachers need an assessment that is fully aligned with the standards they are using in the classroom. 

We remain confident that Tennessee’s students are capable of the highest academic performance. Looking ahead, it is critical that policymakers and other state leaders use this time of transition to diligently ensure Tennessee has a fair, skills-based, and authentic assessment that measures problem-solving and critical thinking skills by the statutory deadline of 2015. The important work communities, districts, and schools are doing to upgrade their technology infrastructure in preparation for online assessments is vital to this transition and should continue in earnest. Last, we ask that leaders across the state work to ensure that educators and parents receive clear and transparent direction on what to expect next to avoid confusion and disruption during this transition.

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