Top 10 Highlights of 2017

by Candice McQueen, Tennessee Commissioner of Education

As we look ahead to 2018, I believe it’s also important to celebrate our successes from the past year. As I reflect on 2017, I’m incredibly proud of the work that we’ve accomplished as a state.

Here are just 10 of the many moments from 2017 that make me particularly proud:

  • Our graduation rate hit 89.1%—our highest grad rate in Tennessee history
  • Our average ACT score reached 20.1, which represents our highest average ever with even more students taking the test.
  • Students showed across-the-board growth in the second year of high school results on TNReady, and we set a new baseline for all students to grow with the first full year of TNReady implementation for grades 3-8.
  • We implemented revised math and English language arts standards, with all districts participating in team-led training and 6,000 teachers participating in direct training and support from the department.
  • According to our Tennessee Educator Survey, 74 percent of teachers say teacher evaluation is improving their instruction—more than ever.
  • More than 8,000 rising first through third graders participated in tuition-free Read to be Ready summer camps across three-fourths of Tennessee school districts, and they showed statistically significant gains in critical reading skills and increased their motivation to read.
  • Tennessee showed historic increases in students taking and getting credit for Advanced Placement courses, which helps to create a seamless transition into postsecondary.
  • Tennessee was #1 in the country in FAFSA filing as we entered another successful year of supporting students going to college and using the Tennessee Promise
  • We invested more than $15 million in equipment for top industry growth programs in career and technical education.
  • Tennessee’s ESSA plan to transition to the new federal law was approved and recognized as a top-ranked plan in independent reviews.

All of these milestones and more were possible because of the important work Tennessee teachers—and school and district leaders—do every day. Each of you play an important role in these and many, many other moments that culminate in dramatic and life-altering opportunities for our students. As you reflect on your own successes from the past year, please know that you are having a tremendous impact on students and Tennessee’s future. I am excited to see what we can accomplish together in 2018.