SCORE identifies 2024 educational priorities for Tennessee
Published 11:31 am Wednesday, December 6, 2023
In 2024, Tennessee should focus on strengthening foundational policies, building effective pathways between education and careers, and ensuring K-12 supports meet student needs, according to a report released today by the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE).
SCORE’s 14th annual report, Building A Brighter Future: 2024 State Of Education In Tennessee, highlights successes and opportunities in K-12 and postsecondary education in the past year and identifies research-informed priorities to support Tennessee students.
During the report released today, David Mansouri, president and CEO of SCORE, said with SCORE approaching 15 years since its founding, this year’s priorities look to the next frontier for transforming education in Tennessee.
“We have to recognize the ways in which the education and work landscapes are evolving. And must make sure our priorities and recommendations evolve at the same pace,” Mansouri said. “Looking to the future, Tennessee must expand its vision for education so that each student has the opportunity to succeed in school and be prepared for a career that enables economic independence.”
The 2024 State Of Education In Tennessee report outlines three priority areas for the year ahead:
– Expand student opportunity by strengthening foundational policies. To expand student opportunity, the report recommends strengthening some of Tennessee’s long-standing foundational policies. Three areas that deserve particular attention are longitudinal data, Tennessee Promise, and postsecondary outcomes-based funding. These policies are nationally recognized and have contributed to Tennessee’s growth in the past decade. As a state committed to continuous student-centered improvement, Tennessee must evaluate where these efforts are not meeting their full potential and make necessary adjustments.
– Build effective pathways between education and careers. In today’s education landscape, students have a menu of over 1 million unique degree and credential opportunities, but not all of those opportunities have the same return on investment. It is critical for students to have a complete picture of the earning potential of degrees and credentials. With an understanding of what skills are most valued by employers, the state can help drive data-driven partnerships between education and industry. Early postsecondary and career experiences are another valuable tool for preparing students for success in life. Tennessee has long prioritized experiences like dual enrollment, career-technical education and work-based learning. In 2024, it’s important that we establish mechanisms to evaluate the quality of these opportunities. The report highlights the need for data access so that we can monitor how students are moving through the education pipeline and incentivize opportunities that result in improved student outcomes.
– Ensure K-12 supports meet student needs. K-12 schools and districts have experienced several major policy and practice changes in the last three years. These changes include the adoption of a new and nationally recognized K-12 student-based funding formula, the introduction of several strategies to bolster the teacher pipeline, and the launch of important high-dosage tutoring and summer programs to support student learning. In the coming year, we need to identify ways to meet student needs in the context of these many recent and important changes. The report urges support for prospective, new and veteran educators at each stage of their careers, along with evaluating and building on initiatives such as Grow Your Own. Additionally, the state should adopt a plan for instructional coherence to maximize learning for the state’s lowest-performing students, and it should ensure facilities funding for public charter schools, which primarily serve students of color and economically disadvantaged students.
Senator Bill Frist, M.D., founder and chairman of SCORE, says meeting the goals outlined in the report will require a new strategic alignment, as well as a commitment from all Tennesseans.
“The work to build a brighter future for Tennessee students will take all of us, and it will be a continuous journey,” Frist said. “We have no doubt that with our shared advocacy and clear focus, Tennessee will shape an education system that is aligned to the new realities of our state’s labor market and, most importantly, gives students the opportunities they need and deserve.”
SCORE presented the report findings during an event at the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville that included a panel discussion of 2024 education priorities. Speakers included: the Honorable Alberto Gonzales, Dean and Doyle Rogers Professor of Law, Belmont University; Charlie Friedman, founder and executive director, Nashville Classical Charter School; Dr. Jean Luna-Vedder, director of schools, Clarksville-Montgomery County School System; Deniece Thomas, commissioner, Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development; and Dr. Michael Torrence, president, Motlow State Community College.