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Tennessee is being painted a bit unfairly by these ACT results, given that unlike most states, Tennessee tests 100% of its seniors. (North Carolina, which scored above the national average, tests just 18% for example.) And recent changes have been encouraging. The state was one of just a few to raise standards over the past several years, and its First to the Top plan focuses squarely on boosting student achievement using value-added assessment (the state's TVAAS program) as its central pillar. For more on FTTT and TVAAS, see www.education-consumers.org - lots of good info, along with school- and district-level rankings on various metrics.
Given that all the candidates want to see high performance out of our schools, it's surprising that none of them mentioned using value-added data to identify effective teachers and schools. Tennessee has the longest-running and arguably the most sophisticated value-added system in the country (TVAAS); fully leveraging this data could go a long way towards improving education in the state. If anyone is interested in learning more, see information from the Education Consumers Foundation at http://www.education-consumers.org/tn....
This is good news: for too long, Tennessee has papered over its challenges by inflating student proficiency rates. In 2007, the Nation’s Report Card (NAEP), a more rigorous national sampling of students, said that just 29% of Tennessee 4th graders were proficient or advanced in math; in contrast, the TCAP said that 89% were proficient/advanced!
We need more rigorous coursework and assessments; we also need to pay more attention to value-added performance, which shows whether schools are successfully helping students reach their academic potential. There’s more information on value-added assessment and other issues in Tennessee education at www.education-consumers.org.
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