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Tennessee Celebrates First Year of Race to the Top

Tuesday, March 29, 2011 | 10:50am
NASHVILLE – Time flies when you are making progress. Governor Bill Haslam and the Tennessee Department of Education commemorated the first anniversary of Tennessee’s Race to the Top win at an education roundtable discussion today. Key stakeholders in winning and executing Tennessee’s First to the Top plan participated in the discussion by taking stock of the great progress Tennessee has made and recognizing the work yet to be done for the children of Tennessee.  
 
“Race to the Top has made Tennessee the focal point of education reform in the nation, and I am thankful to those who worked so hard for this incredible opportunity,” Haslam said. “After a year we are in a position to bring real reform to our schools, and I am very encouraged about where we are and where we are going.”
 
Since being awarded upward of $501 million, the state and local school districts have begun executing a dramatic set of school reforms. At the heart of improving student achievement is a focus on three main student performance goals: young students' academic readiness, high school graduates' readiness for college and careers, and higher rates of graduates enrolling and succeeding in post-secondary education.The first year has been a combination of planning and successes, amongst these initiatives:
  • Re-engineering Tennessee’s accountability system, revamping tenure expectations in connection with a new teacher and principal evaluation system, and refocusing education opportunities through changes to charter school laws.
  • Establishing and emphasizing STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education across the state through the focus of the STEM Innovation Network.
  • Renewing the focus on the classroom teacher and a more dedicated focus on encouraging student achievement.
  • Building support and creating success for students through increased professional development opportunities for educators such as Value-Added Data Specialists, formative assessment practices training, and online course availability.
  • Providing all with the feedback and support they need to succeed through increased engagement and communication.
“We all understand that we are still near the starting point of this process, and as we go forward, it is our responsibility to make certain we are moving toward better outcomes for students,” Haslam said. “Tennessee’s best long-term job growth strategy is to improve the education we offer Tennesseans and ensure they are prepared to compete in the 21st Century workforce.”
 
One year ago, Tennessee was one of just two states selected to receive millions of dollars for education in the federal government’s Race to the Top competition. Tennessee’s First to the Top plan is built on the strong foundation and commitment of key stakeholders, including elected officials, teacher's union leaders, business leaders, and educators with the aggressive goal to improve teacher and principal evaluation, use data to inform instructional decisions, and turn around their lowest-performing schools. Tennessee’s complete Race to the Top proposal and other First to the Top accomplishments are detailed on the Tennessee First to the Top website at www.tn.gov/firsttothetop.
 
Also, join the First to the Top education conversation on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TNFirsttotheTop or Facebook at www.facebook.com/TNFirsttotheTop
 
For more information, contact Amanda Maynord Anderson at (615) 532-7817 or Amanda.Anderson@tn.gov.      
 
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