There’s now a Dept. of Education blog — with a Huffman post

The state Department of Education has launched a blog, called Classroom Chronicles, that is self-described as “a space to tell the stories of Tennessee educators… to feature the inspiring work happening every day in Tennessee classrooms.”

Besides tales from teachers, the blog has a tweet roundup (one tweet, for example, declares the new blog ‘pretty freakin’ awesome’) and, naturally, a post by Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman.

The first Huffman post praises Gov. Bill Haslam’s “ambitious agenda” by setting a goal of seeing Tennessee teacher salaries increase at a better rate than in any other state.

When we first started talking about this goal, we said it behind closed doors. Then we talked about it with superintendents. Then we started including it in some of our materials. Listening to the governor say it repeatedly last week reminded me how ambitious (and public) this goal now is.

And there’s praise for improved test scores from Tennessee students with lots of nifty education acronyms thrown in with charts and graphs.

While the TCAP is our primary measurement tool within the state, we have set our goal based on national assessments (NAEP, ACT and, eventually, PARCC).

It was heartening, then, to get back our state-level PLAN and EXPLORE results a few weeks ago. PLAN and EXPLORE are ACT-aligned tests that we give each year to all 8th and 10th grade students. They tell us how our students are progressing against national benchmarks in reading, math, and science, and they give us a sense of whether our students will be ready for the ACT by their senior year.

After two years in a row of steady progress, Tennessee students’ scores shot up last year on PLAN and EXPLORE, for the first time actually exceeding the national norm, as calculated by ACT.