Haslam, Huffman, others trumpet ‘historic gains’ on National Report Card

News release from the governor’s office:
MOUNT JULIET – Gov. Bill Haslam today announced that Tennessee had the largest academic growth on the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) of any state, making Tennessee the fastest improving state in the nation.

The NAEP results also show that Tennessee had the largest growth of any state in a single testing cycle since NAEP started nationwide assessments a decade ago.

“These historic gains are a result of years of hard work by a lot of people across Tennessee: our teachers, students, principals, superintendents, parents, lawmakers, school board members, business leaders, and many others,” Haslam said. “As a state we’ve come together to make education a top priority.”

The governor was joined for the announcement by former Gov. Phil Bredesen, State Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman, Wilson County Director of Schools Timothy Setterlund, Cicely Woodard, an eighth-grade math teacher at Rose Park Magnet Middle School in Nashville, state legislators, business and community leaders, and students, faculty and staff of West Wilson Middle School in Mt. Juliet where the event was held.

Commonly known as “the nation’s report card,” NAEP assesses students in fourth- and eighth-grade reading and math. All 50 states have taken NAEP since 2003, and the results are regarded across the country as the best way to compare educational outcomes across states. Tennessee students’ combined growth on all four tests in 2013 exceeded the growth of all other states. For data on Tennessee’s NAEP results, visit: http://nationsreportcard.gov/reading_math_2013.

The state improved in overall national ranking in each of the four tests. For fourth-grade students, Tennessee went from 46th in the nation in math to 37th and from 41st to 31st in reading. Tennessee also had very strong growth for African-American students, and the state saw gains in overall results while significantly increasing the participation of special education students on the test.

“This administration’s goal has been to be the fastest improving state in the nation by 2015,” Huffman said. “We’ve asked a lot of our teachers and students, and they have delivered; they deserve the thanks for this progress. Dramatically improving results for kids is hard work, but this is what hard work can do.”

Tennessee has also seen three years of continuous growth on its state assessments, also known as the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP). Since 2010, 91,000 more students are on grade level in math, and 52,000 more students are on grade level in science.

Here are more press releases from politicians praising the results:

From Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey:
Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) made the following statement regarding the news that Tennessee is one of the most improved states on the NAEP exam of student performance:

“This kind of marked improvement on test scores is indisputable proof that Tennessee’s Republican-led education reforms are working. From tenure reform to teacher evaluations to the elimination of the union monopoly on collective bargaining, Tennessee has led the nation in pursuing ambitious reforms. Now we see the results. Thanks go to Governor Haslam, Commissioner Huffman and our state legislators for showing remarkable resolve in the face of criticism.”

“The true credit for this achievement, however, goes to our Tennessee teachers. It is their hard work and dedication that made this possible. Clearly, Tennessee children are better off due to their efforts. This is a great day for Tennessee.”

From House Democratic Caucus:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (November 7, 2013) – Results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress report were released today showing that Tennessee has made some of the strongest gains in the nation in reading and math scores for students in 4th and 8th grade.

“This announcement is great news for Tennessee teachers and students. These gains are a testament to our public school professionals, who are doing a great job, despite continued attacks from this administration,” said House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh. “With our public schools on the right path, Governor Bill Haslam and Commissioner Huffman need to make sure we stay on the path charted by Governor Bredesen. We can’t get side tracked with sending your tax dollars to private schools and taking away local control from our school boards. That is a recipe for undoing these positive gains.”

In early 2010, Governor Bredesen called a special session in order to pass a series of laws that allowed Tennessee to win $500 million in federal Race to the Top funds. The Tennessee First to the Top Act, sponsored by Chairman Turner, helped improve standards by increasing Tennessee’s investment in our schools and teachers.

“These results released today show that the reforms passed by Democrats under Governor Bredesen are working,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner. “Unfortunately, we are at risk of reversing these gains in reading and math scores because of outside special interest groups who want to use Tennessee’s students as lab rats in their social experiments.”

From U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander:
WASHINGTON, Nov.7 – Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today praised Tennessee’s performance in new nationwide test results for 4th and 8th graders that find Tennessee was the only state where students made significant improvements in both reading and math at both grade levels, and Tennessee students also made larger gains than students in any other state in three of the four tests administered,

Alexander said: “Credit for this remarkable achievement goes to Tennessee’s hard-working teachers, parents, and governor. There couldn’t be any more important news for Tennessee, in terms of the future of our state.”

The National Assessment Governing Board (NAEP), commonly called the “nation’s report card,” tests the nation’s students on math and reading in grades 4 and 8 and today released results for the nation and each state.

The NAEP math assessment for 2013 measures “students’ knowledge and skills in mathematics and students’ ability to apply their knowledge in problem-solving situations” across five content areas, including: number properties and operations; measurement; geometry; data analysis, statistics, and probability; and algebra. The NAEP reading assessment for 2013 measures students’ reading comprehension across two types of texts: literary and informational.

National results show student achievement in math and reading at both grade levels improved only slightly since 2011, and there have been no significant improvements towards closing the achievement gap between White and Black students or White and Hispanic students in either subject. Among 8th graders, 64 percent are not proficient in math and 64 percent are not proficient in reading. Among 4th graders, 68 percent are not proficient in math and 65 percent are not proficient in reading.

Alexander, the senior Republican on the Senate health committee, added: “The national results deliver the disappointing news that only about a third of fourth graders are proficient in reading and math, and middle school students aren’t doing much better. The best way to help our 50 million children in 100,000 public schools learn what they need to know and be able to do is to fix that responsibility squarely where it belongs—on parents, teachers, communities and states.”

Alexander, who previously served as Secretary of Education and as president of the University of Tennessee, this year introduced a proposal to fix No Child Left Behind that emphasizes state and local decision-making. “It puts Washington out of the business of deciding whether local schools are succeeding or failing,” Alexander said. “It rejects the federal mandates that create a national school board, prohibiting the Education Secretary from prescribing standards or accountability systems for states.”

Alexander introduced the “Every Child Ready for College or Career Act” with senators Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.).

From Sen. Jim Kyle:
NASHVILLE – State Sen. Jim Kyle released the following statement on Tennessee’s gains in the National Assessment of Educational Progress report card:

“Tennessee’s dedicated teachers are to be congratulated for these extraordinary gains,” Sen. Kyle said. “Public schools are winning without the help of vouchers, charters and for-profit schools. Taking money away from public schools will only undermine their success.”