Press Releases

‘SCORE Prize Award’ Finalists Announced

Press release from the Tennessee State Collaborative on Reforming Eduction(SCORE); August 30, 2012: 

(Nashville) – The State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) today announced the 12 finalists for the second annual SCORE Prize Award. The Prize is awarded to the elementary, middle, and high school, along with one school district in Tennessee that have most dramatically improved student achievement.

The winners of the SCORE Prize will be announced at an event at the historic Ryman Auditorium on Monday, October 8 at 6:00 pm, which will be hosted by SCORE Chairman and former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. Tennessee Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman will make remarks during the event.

The 2012 SCORE Prize finalists are:

Boones Creek Elementary, Washington County Schools
John Sevier Elementary, Maryville City Schools
Pigeon Forge Primary, Sevier County Schools

Power Center Academy, Memphis City Schools
Rose Park Math/Science Magnet School, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools
Southside Elementary, Henderson County Schools

Covington High School, Tipton County Schools
Fayette Ware Comprehensive High School, Fayette County Schools
Ravenwood High School, Williamson County Schools

Hamblen County Schools
Maryville City Schools
Tipton County Schools

“The SCORE Prize is awarded to recognize tremendous success in preparing students for the future,” said SCORE President and CEO Jamie Woodson. “Each of the 2012 SCORE Prize finalists has made significant strides in raising student achievement levels. All 12 finalists, as well as the communities that support them, should be proud of the progress their children are making. Their work demonstrates that meaningful improvement in public education is possible.”

The SCORE Prize will award $10,000 to the elementary, middle, and high school and $25,000 to one district in Tennessee that have most dramatically improved student achievement. Winners and finalists are also highlighted by SCORE throughout the year. Winners are chosen in a two-step process. The first stage identified finalists through a weighted criteria selection process that took into account TVAAS growth and TCAP improvement. This process also factored in attendance rates and socioeconomic status. College-readiness data, such as ACT and college-going rates, were considered for high schools and districts. The second stage will consist of site visits to the finalists to document the policies and practices that have enabled them to make significant gains in student achievement.

The SCORE Prize event is being held in conjunction with the Tennessee Department of Education’s annual Education LEADership Conference (LEAD). To reserve free tickets for the SCORE Prize event or learn about the 2011 finalists and winners visit

Press Releases

SCORE: TN Teacher Evaluation System Already Improving Quality of Teaching

Statement from the State Collaborative on Reforming Education; July 16, 2012:  

(Nashville) – Jamie Woodson, President and CEO of the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE), issued the following statement today on the release of the Tennessee Department of Education’s teacher evaluation report:

“The teacher evaluation system that Tennessee is implementing is already improving the quality of teaching in the classroom and is supporting inspired, high-quality instruction in many school districts. As with any new important policy, adjustments will continue to be made to ensure that the evaluation system is truly identifying and fostering great teaching, with the ultimate goal of improved student achievement. We applaud the Tennessee Department of Education for listening and gathering feedback through numerous channels, and for making important and thoughtful recommendations moving forward.”

The State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) collaboratively supports Tennessee’s work to prepare students for college and the workforce. We are an independent, non-profit, and non-partisan advocacy and research institution, founded by former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.

Press Releases

Haslam Appreciates SCORE’s Eval Review

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; June 11, 2012:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today released a statement about the comprehensive report on the state’s teacher evaluation system issued by independent non-profit State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE).

In December 2011, Haslam asked SCORE to collect input and feedback on Tennessee’s teacher evaluation system, a key piece of the First to the Top legislation that positioned Tennessee to be one of the first two states awarded Race to the Top funding.

“I appreciate SCORE’s work in traveling the state and listening to feedback from educators on teacher evaluations,” Haslam said. “We will review these recommendations along with the state Department of Education’s internal review of the process, which is expected to be completed in the coming weeks.

“If we want to improve education in Tennessee, that starts with an effective teacher leading each Tennessee classroom,” Haslam said. “This report is part of a comprehensive review of the teacher evaluation process. We want to support and reward effective teachers and are committed to making the evaluation system as strong as it can be.”

Press Releases

PET: Review Process of New Evaluation System ‘Exhaustive’, Provides ‘Invaluable’ Feedback

Press release from Professional Educators of Tennessee; June 11, 2012:

The formal feedback process of the new evaluation system, independent of state government, that the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) undertook statewide, in which we participated, was exhaustive. This report provides an invaluable catalogue of feedback from educators and other stakeholders from across the state on the four approved evaluation models. Despite imperfections, the new system is considered a marked improvement from what previously existed. However, as we move forward we must ensure any evaluation system is fair and effective for all educators.

Professional Educators of Tennessee will take the time to carefully review each of the SCORE recommendations, before suggesting any revisions. In addition, we want to review additional findings from the Tennessee Department of Education, along with student achievement data once it is available before reaching conclusions in determining exactly what needs to be changed and to make it more manageable for teachers going forward. We will be very aggressive in meeting with policymakers to ensure educator voices are heard in this process. We expect that Governor Haslam and his team will put forward his own framework for actions prior to the State Board of Education meeting next month. So, there will be a short time frame in which we can offer input or propose policy considerations to improve the teacher evaluation system.

Organizationally, we recognized that many teachers across the state did not have access to high quality professional learning to assist them. So, we were extremely pleased that among the recommendations by SCORE was a strong call for professional development by education associations. Professional Educators of Tennessee believes it is part of our core business, as well as a key pillar of needed reform, to provide the highest quality of professional learning for the educators of Tennessee to both members and non-members. Through LeaderU, we offer professional development that is designed to promote, advance and build upon the skills of teacher leaders throughout Tennessee. Professional Development allows for educators to create a professional career continuum and lays a solid groundwork for the future of Tennessee classrooms.

Press Releases

SCORE Hands State 7 Tips for Improving Teacher Evaluation System

Press release from State Collaborative on Reforming Education; June 11, 2012: 

(Nashville) – The State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) today released a report, Supporting Effective Instruction in Tennessee, regarding Tennessee’s teacher evaluation system. The report follows a five-month listening and feedback process SCORE led on the evaluation system to identify what is working well, gather input on challenges and concerns, and report back with a range of recommendations to the Tennessee Department of Education and State Board of Education.

“SCORE’s role in this process has been to listen,” SCORE President and CEO Jamie Woodson said. “It is our hope that this report and its recommendations will build on key successes of the new teacher evaluation system and support improvements moving forward, while always keeping the focus on what it takes to improve student achievement in our state.”

Research shows that effective teaching is the most important school-based factor in improving student achievement. Tennessee is now completing the first year of implementing a new teacher evaluation system, designed to identify and support effective teaching.

In December 2011, Governor Bill Haslam asked SCORE to lead a statewide listening and feedback process, independent of state government, regarding the evaluation system. Since January, SCORE gathered more than 27,000 inputs from educators and other stakeholders across Tennessee. This input was collected through nine regional roundtables, an online questionnaire for educators, a work team of educators throughout the state, in-depth interviews on teacher evaluation with leaders in and outside of Tennessee, and existing networks of teachers, principals, and district leaders. SCORE’s work supplements additional ongoing feedback collected by the Tennessee Department of Education and by the Tennessee Consortium on Research, Evaluation, and Development (TNCRED).

SCORE heard consistent and positive feedback on many aspects of the evaluation, including that the system is improving both the quality of instruction and student results. SCORE also heard challenges related to the implementation of the new system, including perceptions that the evaluation is overly focused on accountability and not enough on improving and supporting effective teaching.

SCORE gathered this feedback and has provided seven specific recommendations to continue improving the evaluation system moving forward:

  • Recommendation 1: Ensure current and prospective teachers and leaders receive sufficient training in the evaluation system.
  • Recommendation 2: Link the feedback that teachers receive with high-quality, collaborative, and individualized professional learning opportunities so that they can improve their instruction. Tennessee’s teacher evaluation system needs to balance accountability for results with a focus on improving instruction, which is the key to improving student outcomes. To do so, the Department of Education and districts must provide meaningful professional learning opportunities and support to help teachers improve.
  • Recommendation 3: Address challenges with the current quantitative and qualitative measures of teacher effectiveness. Many of the issues that have arisen are not due to problems with the First to the Top plan for teacher evaluation, but rather from the remaining gaps in the development and implementation of measures of the evaluation system. We recommend these gaps in the quantitative measure and some missing elements in the qualitative measure be addressed as soon as possible. For example, we recommend the state offer teachers in non-tested grades and subjects (who do not yet have individual student growth, or value-added, data) the option of temporarily increasing the weighting of the qualitative portion of the evaluation.
  • Recommendation 4: Support school and district leaders in becoming strong instructional leaders capable of assessing and developing effective teaching – and hold them accountable for doing so.
  • Recommendation 5: Re-engage educators in those districts where implementation of the teacher evaluation system has faltered during the first year of work.
  • Recommendation 6: Integrate the ongoing implementation of the teacher evaluation system and the Common Core State Standards so that they work together to improve student outcomes. All of the approved evaluation models should reflect the shifts in instruction that will be required as Tennessee implements higher, more rigorous academic standards through the Common Core State Standards.
  • Recommendation 7: Drive continuous improvement of the teacher evaluation system at the state, district, and school levels. Leaders and educators must commit to improving the teacher evaluation system on an ongoing basis to maximize its impact on student achievement. For example, school districts should apply for flexibility from the Department of Education (an option currently available) to address their unique issues and concerns.

“We appreciate the tremendous support of our partners who assisted SCORE in gathering valuable feedback from educators and citizens across the state,” Woodson said. “The evaluation system that Tennessee is implementing is already improving the quality of teaching in the classroom and is supporting inspired, high-quality instruction in many districts. As needed refinements are made, the system will realize its full potential as a powerful platform for supporting effective instruction across the state and, therefore, gains in student achievement and growth.”

The following organizations partnered with SCORE to gather feedback from educators and other stakeholders: the Tennessee Education Association (TEA), Tennessee Business Roundtable, Tennessee School Boards Association (TSBA), Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents (TOSS), Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Tennessee PTA, Tennessee Principals Association, and Professional Educators of Tennessee (PET).

The executive summary of the report can be downloaded here.

The full report can be downloaded here.

The State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) collaboratively supports Tennessee’s work to prepare students for college and the workforce. We are an independent, non-profit, and non-partisan advocacy and research institution, founded by former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.

Education News NewsTracker

SCORE Tardy Turning in Teacher Evaluations System Review

The education reform group charged with grading the state’s new teacher evaluation process is turning in its homework late.

No, the dog didn’t eat their research paper. But the State Collaborative on Reforming Education, SCORE, wanted to take more time collecting data, officials said.

“Frankly, it’s that we had some additional inputs from people across the state over the last few weeks,” said David Mansouri, SCORE’s spokesman. “We feel like this is a really important document, and we wanted to make sure all those inputs were included.”

The report was originally due out June 1, but Mansouri and the governor’s administration say to expect it June 11.

The report is the result of feedback from some 27,000 educators, parents and experts from the business community along with state and national education groups through online questionnaires, roundtable discussions and sit-down interviews, said Mansouri.

The results of the study touch the future of job evaluations for some 64,000 teachers and thousands of principals and education staff as state officials expect the report will drive revisions to the system going into the 2012-13 school year.

House Education Chairman Richard Montgomery, R-Sevierville, met with SCORE CEO Jamie Woodson on Capitol Hill Monday but declined to comment on what might be in the report, saying there could still be changes before the recommendations go public next week.

Gov. Bill Haslam asked the group and the state Department of Education in December to start evaluating the teacher grading system. DOE’s report is due out June 15.

Although SCORE was commissioned as a third party to study the system, the organization played a key role in adding the new requirements to state law books in 2010. It was one of a handful of groups that developed ideas that helped the state win a $500 million grant rewarding education reform.

Haslam told reporters last week his administration plans to take the recommendations seriously, adding that asking SCORE to evaluate the system “wasn’t just a charade.”

“I’m firmly committed to the evaluation process. And for it to work, we need to make certain that it’s the best that it can be,” he said.

Teachers and administrators have complained the evaluations are time-consuming and said there’s not a good method to grade teachers in subjects not tested by the state, like music or early education. Teachers ratcheted up their concerns after the Republican-led Legislature last year required that teachers receive above-average evaluations to earn tenure, which offers job protection.

Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman has said he doesn’t expect any surprises in his department’s review of the evaluation system.

Education NewsTracker

SCORE’s Teacher-Evaluation Review an Earnest Undertaking: Haslam

Asking the state’s most vocal education reform advocates to assess its new teacher evaluation system was by no means “just a charade,” Gov. Bill Haslam said Tuesday.

The State Collaborative on Reforming Education is expected to release an analysis of the teacher evaluation system June 1, giving lawmakers a tool they can use to drive revisions to the state’s contentious new method for grading more than 64,000 teachers.

SCORE, conceived by former U.S. Senate GOP Majority Leader Bill Frist played a key part in establishing the teacher evaluation system and other changes, like lowering restrictions on charter schools.

“That wasn’t just a charade to have them, SCORE, go through them. I’m firmly committed to the evaluation process. And for it to work, we need to make certain that it’s the best that it can be,” said Haslam, who predicted suggestions about how to grade teachers in non-core subjects like history and music.

The governor took questions from reporters and an auditorium of more than 500 high school seniors belonging to the American Legion Auxiliary Volunteer Girls State assembly, a gathering of female students with academic and leadership potential. Among the students, questions about education were constant, including the evaluation system.

One teen said both her parents are teachers who are stressed about the new evaluation system, and asked the governor whether he could foresee making any changes to the process.

“When you put any new evaluation procedure in place, it raises lots of questions because you’re changing things,” Haslam responded. “We’ll decide from there how to tweak the system to make it better going forward.”

Education NewsTracker Transparency and Elections

Legislation Preventing Public Disclosure of Teacher Eval Scoring Headed to Governor

Parents and taxpayers would not have access to teacher scoring data under a bill that has passed both chambers of the Tennessee Legislature.

The Senate gave its unanimous support to SB3024 Monday, requiring that estimates of teacher effectiveness gleaned from student’s TCAP tests, be kept confidential. The House version of the bill passed that chamber last week by a vote of 95-0.

The bill’s sponsor, Senate Education Committee chairwoman Dolores Gresham, said that schools and state government will be able to use the information to “hone the curriculum such that it serves students better.”

Gresham said it’s “too early to tell” if disclosing that information to the public would have a negative effect.

“Perhaps once teachers are confident in the evaluation process,” she said. “It’s too new, right now, for some folks, although I think we’re going in the right direction. I think perhaps, later on, when teachers have more confidence, that they’ll be able to support that.”

The state’s new evaluation system has been met with mixed reviews from the education community and the public and is currently being evaluated by the State Collaborative for Reforming Education (SCORE) at the request of Gov. Bill Haslam. A report from the group is due June 1.

The Department of Education’s evaluation team has met with over 6,200 educators across Tennessee, gathering feedback on the new system, according to a report given earlier Monday to a joint subcommittee. The feedback will be included in the department’s own report, which will be submitted to the legislature by July 15.

Teachers appreciate the feedback and knowing where they can improve, said Emily Barton, the department’s assistant commissioner for curriculum and instruction, but they also want to be sure the evaluation model is fair.

Under the scoring system, teachers are rated 1 to 5, with 5 being the best. Fifty percent of the score is based on observations, 35 percent is based on a measure called value-added of how much students learn year over year, and 15 percent comes from student achievement information. The teacher rating system is being used for the first time this school year and stems from the state’s winning $501 million in the federal Race to the Top competition two years ago.

As for whether or not the evaluations should be made public, Barton said there are educators on both sides of the issue but declined to venture a guess as to which way the majority leans.

“Teachers have strong opinions about this, on both fronts, actually,” she said. “We and the governor support the legislation to maintain privacy with that information at this time.”

Though some educators may differ, the Tennessee Education Association is unwavering in its position.

“We generally support transparency, the public’s right to know. But the problem with this situation is, that would be putting a great deal more credibility on these teacher evaluations than we think it deserves,” said Jerry Winters, the chief lobbyist for the state’s largest teachers’ union.

“There’s a lot of unanswered questions about it. What you’re doing is ranking teachers 1 to 5 with a system that has a lack of confidence by the vast majority of teachers in the state. So that’s our problem with putting it out on the front page of newspapers, when we think it’s not accurate information.”

Open government advocates and media outlets have come out for disclosure, arguing that concealing the scores defeats the purpose of evaluating employees paid with taxpayer dollars.


Education News

SCORE: Prioritize Principals

Tennessee’s in the throes of implementing various teacher- and classroom-focused reforms, but an area that’s fallen through the cracks is better training and support for school principals, reports an influential state education advocacy group.

Cultivating good principals and continuing to train them are among the top four education issues the state needs to focus on in the next year, concluded the State Collaborative for Reforming Education in the 2011-2012 installment of its “State of Education in Tennessee.”

Prominent education-focused lawmakers on Capitol Hill say they agree.

“Any school you go into, you’re going to find that that school is just as strong as that principal,” said Richard Montgomery, R-Sevierville, the House Education Committee Chairman.

Over the last year, SCORE says the state has made “little progress” on developing a strategy for grooming and developing people to lead schools, that “more work remains to ensure that there is a statewide pipeline of effective school and district leaders.”

“District partnerships with colleges and universities, as well as non- profits and businesses, provide opportunities for building leadership pipelines that can be leveraged to broaden the pool of candidates to lead schools throughout Tennessee,” the SCORE report’s executive summary suggests. “In particular, small and rural districts should consider creating a principal pipeline through consortia models in collaboration with institutions of higher education, as these systems often lack the personnel or capacity to build effective pipelines of their own.

Better prepping of principals is an issue Tennessee’s faced for several years, said Dolores Gresham, R-Somerville, who heads the Senate Education Committee.

“It’s not fair to people to put them in positions that they’re not prepared for, and we want to make sure that our principals are prepared for the jobs that they must do, that we expect them to do,” Gresham said.

The lobbyist for the state’s largest teachers’ union agrees.

“You cannot have a good, strong school without a good, strong principal,” said Jerry Winters, a lobbyist for the Tennessee Education Association. “Particularly with the emphasis on teacher quality and evaluation, you’re going to have to have principals who know what they’re doing and have the time to do it, which is a huge problem right now.”

Other issues identified by SCORE include policy leadership, focused professional development for teachers and strengthening training for the state’s future teachers, according to the group’s report, issued Tuesday.

SCORE is soliciting feedback and data on the state’s new teacher evaluation system, in use for the first time this school year. The group’s study, which is due to the governor by June 1, is in response to anxiety among educators, who point to numerous weaknesses and concerns about how they’re graded.

Montgomery says the results of that study will also help determine how the state — including the Legislature — can give principals more of the tools they need.

“That’s going to help us and give us a lot of the information. Where are the weak links? Where do we need to really concentrate our effort to get the best bang out of our buck, so to speak?” he said.

Business and Economy Education Featured

SCORE to Score TN Teacher Evaluation Process

Citing several months of complaints from teachers about new state-mandated evaluations, Gov. Bill Haslam is calling in a third-party education advocate to sort out the new system.

The State Collaborative on Reforming Education has agreed to independently grade the state’s new evaluation process and report back by this summer with feedback and recommendations to be used going into the 2012-13 school year.

“Any time you implement something that’s this comprehensive, I think if you don’t consistently re-evaluate it, you’re not doing your job,” Haslam told reporters after a press conference announcing the partnership at the Capitol Building Wednesday.

“We knew this is going to be a huge rollout, and we knew there would be some people that didn’t necessarily take to it very well, and we knew that we would be evaluating the evaluations,” he said.

SCORE has been involved in several Tennessee education initiatives, including advocating for data-driven teacher evaluations. The nonprofit, bipartisan organization is run by Jamie Woodson, a former Republican senator from Knoxville who bowed out this year to become the group’s executive director. She took over for former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, also a Republican, who launched the organization in 2009.

School districts across the state began using the new annual evaluations this schools year, which include grading teachers based on a mix of student test scores and classroom evaluations and scoring them on a five-point scale. Previously, teachers were heavily evaluated in the three years prior to earning tenure, sporadically after that point.

“The implementation and execution of these reform efforts are truly where the rubber meets the road,” said Woodson, who said SCORE will facilitate roundtable discussions with teachers across the state in addition to soliciting feedback online. “Critical to our mission and to success of this effort is the opportunity for feedback and input from educators and community members throughout the state.”

Haslam said SCORE’s advocacy work for a teacher evaluation system is an asset, not a bias.

“It’s not a question of should we have (the teacher evaluation system). It’s a question of, is the one that we have working well, and I think that’s what we’ve tasked (SCORE) with,” Haslam told reporters.

House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh applauded the governor’s call to study the new evaluation, but said he should also put the system on pause.

“The Legislature rushed this evaluation process, and in many situations it has been to the detriment of Tennessee’s teachers and students,” wrote Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, in an emailed statement. “I hope that the governor and the Legislature agree that we need to delay the evaluations until a thorough bi-partisan review is complete.”

While SCORE picks through the evaluation process, Haslam said he wants the Legislature to avoid passing bills that would change the current process, saying any adjustments should go through the Board of Education.

Halams has also, in recent weeks, asked the Legislature to take a pass on legislation that would allow students to transfer to a public, charter or private school using vouchers while a task force — which includes Woodson — studies that concept.