SCORE, a nonpartisan education policy and advocacy nonprofit founded by Senator Bill Frist, M.D., each year conducts a series of discussions with educators, policymakers and partners to compile a report that examines recent successes in K-12 public education and identifies research-supported opportunities to continue Tennessee’s recent record-setting progress in academic achievement.
The state has been among the fastest improving on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, although the report notes the pace of growth has slowed since 2015.
“Tennessee can have fast student achievement improvement again,” Senator Frist said. “To do that we must work collaboratively toward preparing all students for success after high school by addressing the priorities in the State of Education report. We must be innovative, and we must be bold to help our students be the best in the nation.”
The State Of Education In Tennessee report identifies these priority areas for 2019:
1. Reimagine College And Career Readiness. Every Tennessee student should discover successful routes to college, career and opportunity in high school, the report says. It calls for better coordination between K-12, higher education and workforce development at the state and local levels and more options for career exploration and work-based learning across the state. The report also recommends redesigning high school with more rigorous college and career preparation courses and a personalized approach to career and college advising.
2. Tennessee’s Foundations For Student Success. After a decade of student achievement progress, Tennessee should continue to champion and maintain student-focused policies and practices that have driven student achievement, with more emphasis on equity for all students, the report says. That begins with demanding the best in assessment delivery while continuing the multiple-measure accountability system for schools and educators.
3. Teachers, Teaching And School Leaders. All Tennessee schools should offer excellent teaching, learning opportunities and leadership, the report says. It recommends providing teachers high-quality instructional materials, meaningful professional development, more teacher leadership opportunities and better compensation. The report identifies better preparation for school leaders, both in higher education programs and on the job, as a key strategy to adopt. The report emphasizes that these steps and others are needed to address another critical need, recruiting and retaining more educators of color.
4. Innovate For Improvement. Tennessee should foster innovation to accelerate student achievement and address long-standing disparities, the report says. It specifically recommends expanded access to high-quality schools that support innovation to drive school improvement, particularly public charter schools, and continuous improvement of school turnaround efforts. It also calls for innovation in school funding, including increasing transparency for education funding and spending to identify opportunities for streamlining, expanding and improving school finance.
The priorities were developed in collaboration with the SCORE Steering Committee and after feedback from teachers, school and district leaders, policymakers, students and community and education advocates from across the state.
“These priorities come from the people of Tennessee and are for the benefit of the students of Tennessee,” SCORE President and CEO David Mansouri said. “Our state’s educators and new leaders will be integral to addressing these priorities, but we call on all Tennesseans to add their support in helping students be ready to achieve the American Dream after they graduate.”
SCORE presented the report findings and priorities to educators, policymakers and community and civic leaders during a Nashville event. A panel of Deputy to the Governor Lang Wiseman, Clarksville-Montgomery County School System Director Millard House II and Hamilton County Schools teacher Carrie Bishop discussed the importance of the priorities to stakeholders and students across the state.