About the Standards


Why We Need Higher Standards

  • A recent U.S. Department of Education study showed Tennessee ranked 47th to 50th among states nationally for the rigor of its academic standards from 2005 to 2007.
    On the 2007 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), Tennessee ranked:
    • 42nd out of 50 states in the nation in 8th grade math
    • 38th in the nation in 8th grade reading
    • 43rd in 4th grade math
    • 39th in 4th grade reading
    Where we rank vs other countries:
    A recent study by the American Institute of Research suggests that if Tennessee were a country, we would not be competitive in math and science education with excelling countries like Japan, Singapore and the Netherlands but rather we’d be in league with educationally challenged countries such as Lithuania, Slovenia, and Russia.

    For more information, see "A Parent's Guide to the National Report Card"

    Higher Standards Timeline:
    2007 - Tennessee schools get an “F” for truth in advertising
    2008 - Tennessee Diploma Project launched to raise academic standards
    2009 - Higher academic standards take effect in Tennessee schools
    2010 - Legislature enacts landmark education law: First to the Top Act
            - Tennessee wins the federal Race to the Top competition
            - Tennessee students take first assessments under higher standards

    What Higher Standards Mean:
    • More rigorous curriculum & harder assessments
    • Increased graduation requirements
    • A new definition of “proficiency”
    • $501 million in Race to the Top funding
    • An intense focus on high quality instruction and student learning
    • Less favorable test scores in short-term
    • Greater educational success in the long-term

    Why does this matter?
    • The success of our public schools will determine the knowledge, skills and competencies of our future workforce, entrepreneurs, and leaders.
    • Our expectations must be ambitious if our students are to be successful in an increasingly complex world and an increasingly global economy.
    • For our civic, economic, and cultural future to be bright, we need people who can think critically, learn continuously, and adapt quickly.
    • Thinkers and learners develop through rigorous, excellent classroom instruction and educational experiences which foster 21st century skills.
    • Rigorous standards and high quality instruction will enable our children to be academically successful, economically competitive, and personally fulfilled.