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Tennessee Maintains Progress on 2017 Nation’s Report Card

State has dip in grade 4 math while other areas show no change; overall, scores have improved from 2011 and align to results from TNReady
Monday, April 09, 2018 | 11:05pm

Tennessee’s progress remains steady on the 2017 Nation’s Report Card, Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced today, mirroring the national results.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is given every two years to students in grade 4 and 8 in both reading and math. Long considered the “gold star” of large scale assessment, NAEP serves as a national benchmark for all states to determine what their students know and are able to do. Tennessee made historic progress in 2013 on NAEP, becoming the fastest improving state in the country, and those scores have been largely stable through the 2015 and 2017 cycles.

In 2017, Tennessee students showed no statistically significant changes in either grade 4 or grade 8 reading or grade 8 math, but Tennessee was one of 10 states that saw a drop in scores in grade 4 math. Nationally, scores were flat in all areas except for grade 8 reading, which saw an increase.

“These scores show that the investment we’ve made in our teachers and students is paying off, and because of their hard work in the classroom, Tennessee remains in the very top tier of all states in overall growth,” Gov. Bill Haslam said. “We have raised the bar for K-12 education, and I am proud of how our teachers and students have stepped up to the challenge. Tennessee must continue to stay the course on higher standards, an aligned assessment, and appropriate accountability to provide our students continued growth and opportunity.”

This year’s results are the first time Tennessee’s scores on the NAEP exam align to TNReady scores, showing a similar percentage of students who are proficient in each grade and subject for 2017. In contrast, in 2007, Tennessee received an “F” in Truth in Advertising from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce because results on the state exam were often remarkably different than what NAEP showed as students’ true understanding of the content. Closing this gap not only means that the state is putting forth more accurate information each year about how students are truly progressing, but it also means the state, districts, schools, teachers, and families can reliably use TNReady to identify specific strengths and weaknesses that will ultimately help ensure that students are ready for college and career opportunities regardless of where they want to go.

“These results show that the progress we’ve made is real, but we need to rebuild our momentum,” McQueen said. “We’re proud of how hard our students and teachers are working, and we know that what we are doing is the right work to keep in place. We’ve had a number of transitions in the last two years, and as we help support educators dig deeply into those and target areas for improvement, I believe we’ll again see students make new strides forward.”

The NAEP math and reading exams have been administered since the early 1990s. Spring 2017 was the first time NAEP was administered online, and the results announced today reflect the performance of students on the new online exam only. Officials at the National Center for Education Statistics, which administers NAEP, have been doing the appropriate analysis and equating to maintain the trend line over time and ensure results are comparable to the prior paper-based assessments. More information about this transition to online and the NAEP exam can be found on their website.

For media inquiries, contact Sara Gast, director of communications, at (615) 532-6260 or