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.

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.

Business and Economy Education

SCORE Conference Accents Connection Between Education, Economic Growth

They held an education summit in Nashville on Tuesday and Wednesday, and it turned into a jobs summit.

And that’s pretty much what organizers of the event had in mind all along.

The State Collaborative on Reforming Education, the organization founded by former Sen. Bill Frist, hosted the Southeast Regional Rural Education Summit at Lipscomb University, pulling together various interests in education — from the classroom to the philanthropic realm. It was notable for its emphasis on rural areas, where issues ranging from education to unemployment can be difficult and complex

But it was clear the event was not simply about educating kids in rural communities. It was about preparing them for the workforce and, in turn, boosting the economy in those rural areas.

“It’s making real this close connection between education and jobs,” said Jamie Woodson, the former state senator and president of SCORE.

“They’re so interrelated. It’s not just something we talk about theoretically. It really is a matter of economic viability for these communities around our state and the families that support those communities.”

To drive home that point, the event had a high-powered panel discussion Tuesday morning that included Kevin Huffman, the state’s commissioner of education, and Bill Hagerty, the state’s commissioner of economic and community development, along with Frist and Woodson. Huffman said the jobs of the future will be different from jobs in the past. Hagerty said the connection between jobs and education is very tight.

But the same angle was evident in a morning panel discussion Wednesday. Joe Barker, executive director of the Southwest Tennessee Development District, drove home the point of workforce development and in the process referred to a megasite in West Tennessee aimed at economic development.

Barker also referred to the REDI College Access Program. REDI stands for Regional Economic Development Initiative.

“The key part of this is to recognize we’re an economic development organization. We’re not an educational entity,” Barker said.

“We got involved in the College Access Program purely from an economic development sense.”

He spelled out some details of the large tract of land set aside as the Haywood County Megasite.

“It is a large, potentially very attractive industrial site for heavy manufacturing. It is the only certified megasite left in the state of Tennessee,” Barker said.

“Leaders came together to talk about what we could do as a region to enhance attracting jobs to that megasite, and at the end of the day it all went back to the quality of our workforce and our educational attainment levels.”

John Morgan, chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents, the largest higher education organization in the state, zeroed in on the high number of students who require some type of remedial education when they enter the state’s colleges. He focused on the community colleges in the Board of Regents system since they will be the institutions dealing most with remedial education.

“Roughly four out of five freshmen who come to our community colleges require some kind of remedial or developmental education,” Morgan said. “Of those, about three out of four will have math deficiencies.

“That’s kind of the big problem. But even when you look at reading, about one-third end up in developmental or remedial reading courses, and about half end up in writing courses. That’s troubling.”

Morgan pointed to the state’s Complete College Act, which is geared toward moving students more seamlessly toward college degrees.

“In an environment where completion is now the agenda, where our schools are incented in a very strong way through our outcome-based formula to focus on completion, obviously that represents a substantial challenge,” Morgan said.

Morgan said no matter how well Tennessee handles remedial education, real success will come only when students arrive at college prepared to learn.

“We can cry about that. We can whine about the lack of preparation if we choose to,” Morgan said. “But that’s not going to help us hit our numbers. It’s not going to help us achieve our outcomes.

“So what we have to do is figure out how we at our institutions can work with our high schools, with our middle schools, with our communities to lead to better success for students as they come to us.”

Morgan said there will always be a need for remedial and developmental courses for adult learners, pointing out that if he were to go back to college he would probably “test in” to needing some kind of help.

But the summit was still somewhat out of the ordinary for its focus on rural communities.

“There is a great deal of focus and data related to urban turnaround strategies,” Woodson said. “But we wanted to look at rural communities — and a third of Tennessee students are in schools in rural communities — which is particularly important. So we thought it would be smart and productive to focus on that.”

David Mansouri, director of advocacy and communications for SCORE, echoed that desire.

“A lot of the education reform going on nationally is focused on urban areas,” he said. “In talking to folks and learning from people across the state, there was a real need, not only convening about rural education but to talk about best practices, then bring folks together to replicate those practices.”

Woodson said the idea for the rural summit came from listening tours SCORE has conducted across the state, adding that those efforts will continue.

“This really resulted from those conversations,” she said.

Education News

Woodson Leaving Senate to Lead SCORE

Sen. Jamie Woodson, R-Knoxville, an integral figure in historic education reforms in Tennessee in recent years, is leaving the Legislature to become president of SCORE, the education reform organization put together by former U.S. Sen. Bill Frist.

Woodson, speaker pro tempore in the Senate, will formally leave the Legislature after the final day of the current legislative session, or on July 1, whichever comes first.

The governor will set a special election date for sometime in the fall, and voters in the district will pick a new senator.

Woodson will have the title of president and chief executive officer of the group formally known as the State Collaborative on Reforming Education. She replaces Brad Smith, who has joined the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.

SCORE itself, while a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, has had a strong link to the reforms Woodson and many others have worked on legislatively in K-12 education, stretching from the administration of former Gov. Phil Bredesen to current Gov. Bill Haslam.

Woodson was chosen after a national search to fill the SCORE position.

She said Thursday she will not run for public office again.

“All the organization partners in public education are at the table and really focused on one thing, and one thing only, and that’s working diligently to make sure students are prepared for success in post-secondary education and the workforce when they graduate from high school,” Woodson said.

“It’s a big mission, but it’s a simple mission.”

Woodson, who has spent 12 years in the Legislature and is former chair of the Senate Education Committee, was involved in the intensive special session on education reform in January 2010, where the road was paved for the state’s successful application for the federal Race to the Top competition. She has also been influential in steering education reforms favored by Haslam in the current legislative session.

Woodson has served on the steering committee of SCORE since the organization began in 2009.

She said Thursday she will treat the new position much like the “odd commuter lifestyle” she currently has as a leader in the Legislature. Knoxville will continue to be home, she said. SCORE operates in the offices of the John Seigenthaler First Amendment Center on 18th Avenue South in Nashville.

“I will spend a good bit of time in Nashville, as well as around the state,” she said.

“I think the organization has been very relevant and important to the success that we have achieved thus far.”

Woodson said Haslam, former mayor of Knoxville, has been “very encouraging” about her new role.

“We have dreamed big about education reform for many years, well before he put his hat into the ring to serve as governor,” she said. “It’s something obviously that’s a priority to him, and he was very kind and encouraging.”

One of Woodson’s first tasks will involve strategic planning with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has been heavily involved in philanthropic measures for public education in Tennessee. SCORE is funded by numerous individuals and organizations at the state and national levels that are engaged in improving student achievement.

SCORE issued a report recently, acknowledging strides made in education reform but continuing to emphasize the need for improvement, especially through sustaining a pipeline of leaders in public schools.

Frist has been the driving force behind the organization and brought instant credibility to the organization formed to focus on public education. He is chairman of SCORE.

“Improving public education has been the hallmark of Jamie Woodson’s career in public service and her commitment to student achievement and growth has been remarkable,” Frist said in a formal statement Thursday.

“As SCORE’s president and CEO, Jamie will not only lead one of the nation’s most innovative education reform organizations, but will have the unique opportunity to continue bringing about meaningful change for Tennessee’s children by working with educators, policymakers, philanthropists, business leaders and parents.”

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey issued a formal statement, saying, “Speaker Pro Tempore Jamie Woodson has been a pioneering and passionate advocate for education reform since the very beginning of her tenure in the Legislature.

“She has served her district and her state with a dedication I see in too few public servants these days. It has been a true honor and privilege to serve alongside Jamie, and I wish her all the best in this new phase of her career.”

Woodson said she will miss serving in the Legislature, but she sees a logical transition from one role to the next.

“There are so many things I will miss, first and foremost representing the citizens in my community in Knox County,” she said. “I knocked on my first door and asked a wonderful family for the privilege of serving them in the state Legislature when I was 25 years old. Several thousand doors later and many years later, I know I will feel like the work I will be doing with SCORE is a very natural continuation of that service.”

The nature of the new job has a strong appeal to her.

“There are so many things I love about what I do now, but the work I’ve had the privilege of doing in education policy has been the passion,” Woodson said. “The opportunity to spend a hundred percent of your efforts in your passion is a blessing. I’m really excited about it.”

Press Releases

Frist: Haslam’s Pick to Head Ed Dept. ‘Exactly the Type of Reform-Minded Individual TN Needs’

Statement from Bill Frist on Appointment of Kevin Huffman as Tennessee Commissioner of Education, March 3, 2011:

(Nashville) – Dr. Bill Frist, chairman of the Tennessee State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) and former U.S. Senate Majority Leader, released the following statement today on the appointment of Kevin Huffman as Tennessee Commissioner of Education:

“Kevin Huffman is exactly the type of reform-minded individual that Tennessee needs to lead its public school system. Kevin’s experience in the classroom, in education law, and in leadership at one of our nation’s most innovative education organizations gives him the unique knowledge and background to make a significant positive impact on behalf of our state’s children. Tennessee has transformed into a national leader in education reform in the last few years, and with Kevin’s leadership we are poised for even greater success.”

The State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works with state and local governments to encourage sound policy decisions in public education and advance innovative reform on a statewide basis.