An annual report by the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) has revealed five priorities for Tennessee education, starting with the support of teachers and school districts during their crossover to the new TNReady tests in English and math.
The Tennessean's Jason Gonzales writes that the report says the state should continue the yearly statewide standardized assessment and continue toward fewer but higher quality tests. Recommendations to cut two ACT preparatory tests have already been issued. The removal will have to be approved by the General Assembly.
Tennessee's new TNReady online subject tests are already causing concern among educators across the state, but officials are calling the skepticism growing pains caused by learning a new testing format.
The nonprofit has published its State of Education in Tennessee report for the past five years. In its news release, SCORE said:
"Tennessee's success has demonstrated to the entire nation what can happen when adults work together to create student-focused policy in the capital and to demonstrate student-focused teaching and leadership in the classroom," said SCORE founder Bill Frist, former US Senate Majority Leader.
"While this success is a good beginning, the priorities list for 2016 makes clear that we have considerable more to do to ensure every Tennessee student graduates equipped with the skills and knowledge needed for success after high school."
The SCORE report is published annually after the collaborative spends months meeting with teachers, principals, and district officials across the state. Teresa Wasson, director of communications at SCORE, said Tennessee has improved teacher evaluations, raised standards, and changed its accountability system. Now, the TNReady assessment support will work alongside these modified standards.
Other priorities include the empowerment of teachers, ensuring equitable outcomes for underserved students, and targeting at-risk schools, especially in Chattanooga where qualified local candidates for vacant positions cannot be easily found, reports Emmett Gienapp for the Times Free Press.
An initiative launched last month by educators, businesses, and foundations called Chattanooga 2.0 seeks to examine this issue and others, such as the state of education in the city and the economic future of the region.
Dan Challener, president of the Public Education Foundation and a member of the SCORE steering committee for this report, said the priorities outlined in the Chattanooga 2.0 are similar to SCORE's priorities.
President of the Chattanooga local teachers union, Dan Liner, said he was pleased with the report but iterates that Tennessee still has work to do in the areas of teacher compensation and per-pupil funding allocations.
SCORE also suggests that Tennessee's school and district officials be encouraged through the use of professional learning opportunities and the creation of support systems for those interested in a position as principal and current principals. The Chattanoogan also reported a focus on leadership development and administrator evaluation feedback.
The collaborative also recommends the cultivation of community and business coalitions for the purpose of improving education.
The goals suggested by the nonprofit, nonpartisan education research and advocacy group were announced just a few hours after the state comptroller's office announced that in the shadow of recent improvement, a significant number of the Tennessee's high school graduates were found not to be ready for college.