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Education reform group talks education draft plan

Xavier Smith • Updated Dec 22, 2016 at 9:00 AM

The State Collaborative on Reforming Education recently released a statement regarding the state’s draft implementation plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act. 

“Tennessee has an opportunity with the Every Student Succeeds Act to create a unique, Tennessee-specific approach that will build upon the work already underway to support our students in greater and faster academic growth. The Tennessee Department of Education has taken a thoughtful, inclusive approach to writing the draft plan, engaging thousands of Tennesseans in the development process,” said president David Mansouri. 

The Every Student Succeeds Act, signed into law in December 2015, replaces No Child Left Behind but did not eliminate provisions relative to standardized testing. Tennessee education leaders said they believe the state’s implementation plan is a firm foundation for students’ future by raising standards to a more rigorous level. 

According to the Tennessee Department of Education, less than half of students in grades 3–8 score proficient or advanced in reading. In fall 2014, 43 percent of high school graduates did not enroll in postsecondary education.

Nationally, Tennessee still ranks in the bottom half of all states on National Assessment of Educational Progress. 

The plan highlights five “ambitious goals” set forth by the Tennessee Department of Education to guide the state’s work for the next five years. Those goals include:

• Tennessee will rank in the top half of states on the National Assessment of Educational Progress by 2019.

• 75 percent of Tennessee third graders will be proficient in reading by 2025.

• The average ACT composite score in Tennessee will be 21 by 2020. 

• The majority of high school graduates from the class of 2020 will earn a postsecondary certificate, diploma or degree. 

The state also highlighted five priority areas:

• Early foundation and literacy – building skills in early grades to contribute to future success.

• High school and bridge to postsecondary – preparing significantly more students for postsecondary completion.

• All means all – providing individualized support and opportunities for all students with a focus on those who are furthest behind.

• Educator support – supporting the preparation and development of an exceptional educator workforce.

• District empowerment – providing districts with the tools autonomy they need to make the best decisions for students. 

Tennessee education leaders said they view the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act as an opportunity to build on our current successes and to support our larger state goals. The state is also addressing requirements within accountability, developing the new measures for school quality and student success and ensuring equity across the state through the state plan.

“SCORE will review the draft from the student-focused perspective of how quickly it will move Tennessee toward the goal of preparing all graduates to be ready for education beyond high school and for work. Our review will pay particular attention to school accountability, school improvement, and delivering excellent and equitable outcomes for students of all backgrounds because of the impact these issues can have on student achievement,” Mansouri said. 

“We will offer detailed feedback to the department, and we encourage education partners across Tennessee to review this plan through the same lens and offer feedback, as well.”

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