Tennessee rises in ranks on policy report card

Staff Reports • Jan 17, 2014 at 6:00 PM

NASHVILLE – National education group StudentsFirst released its 2014 State Policy Report Card on Tuesday, the opening day of the General Assembly.

Rather than rank states based on current student achievement levels, the report card evaluates whether states have the right policy environments in place to best raise academic levels from where they are today.

Due to the efforts of legislators to pass mutual consent and pension reform, the state increased its grade on the State Policy Report Card over the prior year, and improved its ranking amongst other states in the country. Moreover, Tennessee was awarded an overall grade of “C,” with a grade point average of 2.10, for its performance in elevating the teaching profession, empowering parents and spending public dollars wisely.

“While countless studies analyze the performance of students, this one focuses on key policies that need to be put in place for kids to succeed,” said Brent Easley, StudentsFirst Tennessee state director and Lebanon native. “Tennessee’s recent improvement on student achievement provides some evidence that meaningful education reforms are working. Our leaders should be encouraged by the rise in Tennessee’s report card grade, and motivated to continue the course for reform.”

According to the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress, Tennessee posted one of the country’s highest gains in student improvement by implementing comprehensive teacher evaluation systems in concert with other education reforms.

According to Deseria Turner, a public school parent in Nashville, “I was pleased to see that Tennessee is prioritizing effective teaching by ensuring that effective teachers and principals are recognized. But it is clear that we have room for growth, especially in empowering parents with quality school options for their children. I encourage our legislators in Nashville to read this thoughtful, well-researched report and take action.”

Focusing on enacting common-sense laws and policies will be the singular mission of StudentsFirst Tennessee and its more than 35,000 members in 2014 and beyond. And as reflected by the report card, Tennessee can continue to build on progress by prioritizing the growth of high-performing charter schools through better authorization and more rigorous accountability, and expanding opportunities for low-income students in struggling districts by creating a targeted scholarship program.

Abbey Andrews, a parent from Johnson City, said, “If you are a school parent and want to know what laws and policies you should be demanding from your elected officials, this is your resource. We demand excellence from our students, and we should reach out to legislators with this report so they can use it as a tool."

 The 2014 Tennessee Policy Report Card can be viewed, downloaded and compared to other states on the StudentsFirst report card website at reportcard.studentsfirst.org. 

 StudentsFirst is a bipartisan grassroots movement of more than 2 million citizens nationwide working to ensure educators are valued for the critical role they play in children’s lives, families have high-quality school choices and a real say in their children's education, and tax dollars are spent wisely on what works for children. Led by former Washington D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, StudentsFirst is active in 18 states and has successfully helped pass more than 110 student-centered policies across the country. For more information, visit studentsfirst.org.

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