Gov. Bill Haslam / DALLUS WHITFIELD photo
The packed crowed that filled West Wilson Middle School’s auditorium Thursday morning didn’t know exactly what “big announcement” they would be getting.
However, when the news is important enough for Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam to deliver it in person - you know it is going to be huge.
As he took to the stage, Haslam said that it was an “extraordinary day” and that even before he took office in 2011 Tennessee’s goal was to be the fastest growing state in education in the nation by 2015.
“I was tired of Tennessee being in the 40s when it comes to education,” he said, before announcing results from the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress report.
Tennessee ranked as number one in the country for most educational improvement, followed by Indiana, Washington, Hawaii, Florida, Oregon, Iowa, California and Minnesota, respectively.
“It is safe to say that we moved into the thirties,” he beamed, before adding that the progress should not stop there. “Nobody in this room is satisfied with being in the thirties. This is a step along the way … From the beginning I said Tennessee is a state that needs to not learn to settle.”
Haslam said the improvement in education was a longtime dream of his predecessor, former Gov. Phil Bredesen. Bredesen said briefly that he couldn’t think of any better news and that “this really is a victory for students in Tennessee.”
Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) released a statement following the announcement to express his pride in this accomplishment. “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,” Alexander said.
Students’ scores showed significant improvement in reading and math at both the fourth and eighth grade levels since 2011, when NAEP, commonly known as the Nation’s Report Card, last conducted a nationwide analysis.