Monthly Column By Gov. Haslam

Posted on Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at 2:50 pm

Tennessee received some exciting news this month about the progress we’re making in education. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results for 2013 were released, and Tennessee students showed the largest growth of any other state.  Tennessee also had the largest growth of any state in a single testing cycle since NAEP began nationwide testing a decade ago.

NAEP, also known as the “nation’s report card,” is a highly-regarded independent assessment that tests fourth and eighth graders in reading and math, and Tennessee students made significant gains on all four tests.

Tennessee’s scores showed students improving half a grade level compared to just two years ago.  We moved from scoring in the bottom 10 in the country on all four tests in 2011, to scoring within one point of the national average on 3 of the 4 tests in 2013. Essentially, we are solidly now in the 30s instead of the 40s on state rankings, and within sight of the national average.

Tennessee showed extremely strong progress for African American students.  We also significantly increased the participation rates for students with disabilities.

These historic gains are due to the hard work of educators, students, parents, school board members, lawmakers and many others.

I see my time in office as part of a bigger picture. It is like being in a relay race. I took the baton that was handed to me, and it is my job to advance the state and hand the baton off further up the track.

The process of raising expectations in Tennessee by raising academic standards started in 2009 under my predecessor, Governor Phil Bredesen. It was a bipartisan effort that spanned two administrations, and it changed the conversation about education in our state.

Since taking office, this administration’s goal has been for Tennessee to be the fastest improving state in the nation by the year 2015. While we can say that today, we know there is more work to do. We aren’t satisfied that we’re in the 30s and below the national average, but these gains are certainly a remarkable achievement.

I am extremely grateful for of all the hard work of our teachers and students. We’re expecting more from them, and they’re responding.  This is a time to celebrate our progress across the state and build on that momentum as we continue to do the best job we can in preparing our students for the future.

As always, please feel free to contact me about this topic or anything that is on your mind.  You can e-mail me at


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