CLEVELAND, Tenn. - Tennessee schools still have work to do but are well along in making needed changes, according to an official with of an education reform group
Sharon Roberts of SCORE (State Collaborative On Reforming Education) spoke Tuesday to educators and public officials from the five counties -- Bradley, Polk, McMinn, Meigs and Monroe -- in Cleveland State Community College's service area.
"No, we are not where we need to be, but that's why SCORE exists," Roberts said before the annual luncheon of the Hiwassee-Ocoee Regional P-16 Council.
The council considers prekindergarten through college-level students -- the P-16 part of the name -- explained Jerry Faulkner, vice president for academic affairs at Cleveland State. Similar regional groups exist statewide, he said.
"The idea is to make a seamless transition through each level of education," Faulkner said.
Roberts said the goals of SCORE -- organized by Tennessee's former U.S. Sen. Bill Frist -- are to make sure every state child who graduates from high school is career- or college-ready.
"The second goal is to make Tennessee the fastest-improving state," Roberts said.
To do so, educators and public officials must focus on the link between education and jobs, Roberts said. Seven of the 10 fastest-growing jobs in Tennessee require some post-secondary education, she said.
According to scores from the ACT, she said, only 15 percent of Tennessee high school students are college-ready across all areas of the test.
"But the early data shows we are beginning to make progress," Roberts said. "Tennessee is a look-to state right now in many areas. That's never happened in my career before."
From curriculum changes to teacher evaluations, she said, "it is incredible what is going on in our classrooms right now.''