Tennessee ’ s student achievement goals are ambitious , but we believe they are also achievable . Data from the Nation ’ s Report Card , state assessments like TNReady , and college entrance exams provide indicators of how well students are progressing toward these goals .
Goal 1 : Tennessee continues to be among the fastest-improving states in the country and ranks in the top half of all states in student achievement as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress ( NAEP ) by 2020 .
Every two years , the National Assessment of Educational Progress , also known as the Nation ’ s Report Card , assesses a random sample of students in each state and the District of Columbia to compare how well they are mastering rigorous course content . As documented in the 2015-16 State of Education in Tennessee report , Tennessee was the fastest improving state on NAEP in 2013 , and the 2015 results confirm that the 2013 gains were real and lasting . For the first time , Tennessee students in 2015 ranked in the top half of states in fourth-grade math , rising to 25th in the nation after ranking 46th just four years before . In math , Tennessee ’ s eighth-grade performance has risen over recent years , but achievement would need to surpass that of peers in 12 states to reach the top half nationwide by 2020 .
Tennessee students have made steady gains toward the top half in eighth-grade reading , but elementary readers ’ ranking declined from 2013 to 2015 . This decline , along with state data discussed later in this report , shows the need for urgent action to improve early-grades literacy .
FIGURE 3 . TENNESSEE NAEP RANKINGS IN READING , 2011-15
FIGURE 1 . TENNESSEE NAEP RANKINGS IN MATH , 2011-15
2011 2013 2015
Bottom 25 Top 25
Bottom 25 Top 25
NAEP science results released in October 2016 show that Tennessee students now rank in the top half nationally in fourth- and eighth-grade science . This remarkable improvement now places the state in the top 20 in the nation in fourth-grade science .
A sample of fourth- and eighth-grade students will take NAEP math and reading assessments in 2017 , and results from those exams will provide an updated view of how well Tennessee students are progressing compared to their peers nationally .
After years of ranking near the bottom of all states on the Nation ’ s Report Card , historic gains shown in the most recent NAEP assessments have moved Tennessee into the top half of states for fourth-graders in math and science , as well as