Frist: Tennessee Must Push Reforms Despite Reservations

An annual report by Senator Frist’s education group, the State Collaborative on Reforming Education, says that Tennessee has to push forward with education reform despite qualms over the new teacher evaluation system and high standards. Making student test results a major part of teacher evaluation is proving unpopular with labor unions throughout the nation, as is the related issue of teacher pay being linked to these evaluations, however the report makes it clear that procrastination and delay will only hurt the state.

“As the link between producing an educated workforce and economic growth remains of critical importance, it is imperative that we focus on the important work of implementation — of turning policy successes into real student achievement gains,” said Frist, SCORE’s chairman. “… We have made a lot of progress. But there is significant work left to do. We must not lose a sense of urgency to improve.”

The education group has suggested that teachers need to be trained more intensively and for that education to be an ongoing process once they’re in classrooms. The report also encourages better communication between principals and other administrators, and collaboration with nearby universities to achieve all the necessary goals.

The report was released at West End Middle School, one of the top schools in the state which is being hailed as a success at narrowing achievement gaps between different ethnic and socioeconomic groups.

“By maintaining our commitment to implementing an ambitious reform agenda and promoting stronger, better prepared and supported educators and school leaders, Tennessee can continue to lead the nation as a state committed to a better future for its students and graduates,” Mr. Frist said.