Tennessee students have made academic progress in recent years, but the state has work to do to ensure its students graduate high school prepared for higher education or the workforce.
So says a report released Tuesday by the State Collaborative on Reforming Education, an education reform advocacy and research institution founded by former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.
According to S.C.O.R.E., its 2012-2013 State of Education in Tennessee report provides a comprehensive update of the state’s progress in improving student achievement.
The report also includes analysis of steps taken in the previous year that have contributed to achievement gains and the organization’s recommendations for how to ensure Tennessee continues to make educational progress.
“Tennessee is marking the beginning of a dramatic turnaround in student achievement,” Frist said. “The hard work of a broad range of partners has helped Tennessee’s students make the most academic progress in the state’s history.” Frist added that more must be done in the coming year to maintain and hasten this progress. The report includes five priorities that S.C.O.R.E. recommends to help further academic improvement in Tennessee, which includes sustaining and effectively implementing education reforms the state has made in the past several years and using new technologies to enhance learning at the district and school levels.
In the report, S.C.O.R.E. also advocates higher standards for teacher recruitment and licensing, as well as for districts to provide resources and opportunities for teachers to take leadership roles in the schools where they work.
Resources should also be provided to parents, the report says, to help them ensure their children can be successful in the classroom.
It recommends that schools and districts engage families in sharing data and setting goals for students.
“These five priorities will be critical to sustaining and accelerating Tennessee’s work to improve student achievement in the year ahead,” Jamie Woodson said.
Woodson, a former state senator from Knoxville who served as the body’s speaker pro tempore, is president and CEO of S.C.O.R.E.
“All partners have a unique role to play in each of these priority areas,” Woodson said. “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.”
Tuesday S.C.O.R.E. also released the results of a statewide public opinion survey the organization commissioned, which was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner Research.
The survey, conducted of 500 registered Tennessee voters, focuses on a range of public education issues.
According to S.C.O.R.E., those polled strongly value public education and the need to improve student achievement, overwhelmingly support the state’s new teacher evaluation system and believe in the importance of high expectations for all students.
When asked about the Common Core State Standards, 72 percent of survey participants said they’d heard “not much” to “nothing” about them. When given a brief description of these standards, 79 percent supported their implementation.
Frist said the data show that Tennessee voters are receptive to change and value public education and efforts to improve student achievement.
“Tennesseans support our state’s reform efforts – from raising academic standards to identifying and supporting great teaching,” Frist said.