Academic Standards in Tennessee

ACADEMIC STANDARDS IN TENNESSEE NOVEMBER 2013 INTRODUCTION Tennessee’s success rests on the state’s ability to compete in a global economy. It is critical that students receive an education that prepares them for the demands of the workforce both today and in the future. However, data from both national and international assessments show that Tennessee students are woefully behind their peers in academic performance. On the ACT, only 18 percent of Tennessee students graduating in 2013 met all four College Readiness benchmarks (an indication of success in college level coursework). Tennessee ranks 13th out of 17 states in which more than 75 percent of high school students take the ACT.i On international assessments, Tennessee ranks 67th in reading and 80th in math (out of 116 countries and U.S. states).ii Policymakers and educators in Tennessee are committed to improving the state’s public education system to ensure that students gain the knowledge and skills they need to be competitive with their peers from other states and countries. This includes bold steps to align academic expectations in public K-12 education with the expectations set by higher education and the workforce. Tennessee is on the path to implementing higher academic standards, and the current Common Core State Standards are intended to ensure that instruction in classrooms across the state is providing students with the real world skills and knowledge they need to be successful after high school. The state received promising news with the 2013 results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which showed that Tennessee is the fastest-improving state for academic achievement. However, the assessment also showed that performance remains below the national average. Tennessee’s commitment to high standards is helping to put students on a pathway to success – a pathway that demands rigor, critical thinking, and strong aptitudes in reading, math, writing, and the sciences. The following memo provides an overview of the recent standards movement in public K-12 education and Tennessee’s work to better align the state’s expectations for students with real-world expectations for success after high school in college or career. Tennessee is a leader in the work to raise academic standards, and it is important to understand how community members, policymakers, educators, parents, and students can continue this work. 1207 18th Avenue South, Suite 326, Nashville, TN 37212 — tel 615.727.1545 — fax 615.727.1569 —