When given the chance, what do teachers tell lawmakers?

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Tennessee teachers always hope for a voice in how students are taught and what is required, but what do they tell lawmakers when given the chance?

That question was posed to some top teachers statewide who were brought together by the education group SCORE.

After hearing Governor Bill Haslam thank the teachers for leading the recent gains in student testing, reading instructor Meagan England told News 2 she hopes funding for her remedial program continues.

“I do work with struggling readers and I want to make sure my students are just as important as any student in the state,” she said during the SCORE conference. “It really touches me that they want to make sure that all students, even the students in Tazewell, Tennessee, receive the same education as students in Memphis or Nashville.”

Eighth grade teacher, Erin Glenn (Photo: WKRN)

Balancing the various needs between Tennessee’s rural and urban school districts is always a challenge for state lawmakers, but what more do they hear from teachers during classroom visits?

“They should know that high expectations matter,” said Erin Glenn, an eighth grade social studies teacher in Hamilton County.

She has withstood the changes in student testing, teacher evaluation and expectations mandated by the state in recent years.

“It may require a little more on our end, but it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the big picture reality where students are able to apply the skills they have learned and apply those to college, the military—opportunities,” Glenn said.

The SCORE conference comes as the Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner released a snapshot of its strategic plan.

Some of the highlights mentioned include:

  • The state has the highest graduation rate and highest average ACT composite in Tennessee history.
  • More students than ever before are earning post-secondary credits while in high school.
  • The state has continued to invest more in education, including a $100 million increase for teacher’s salaries and $22 million for English learners.
  • The department’s “Read to be Ready” coaching network, which is helping educators improve how they teach elementary-aged students reading and literacy skills, has expanded to include 200 coaches that serve 83 school districts, ultimately reaching more than 2,500 teachers who teach 44,000 students.
  • This summer, over 9,000 elementary students who are not on track in reading are being served in statewide “Read to be Ready” camps across 107 school districts.
  • The department, along with thousands of education community members across the state, developed a robust plan to transition to the new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, and aligned that plan to “Tennessee Succeeds.” It refines and deepens work in areas like school improvement, how we support historically underserved student groups like English learners, and well-rounded school accountability.
  •  Through a new Ready Graduate indicator, we have a renewed focus on ensuring all students are truly ready for their next step when they graduate high school, whether that’s through taking early college courses, earning industry credentials, or meeting scoring benchmarks on the ACT or military entrance exam.
  •  Commissioner McQueen has now met with more than 13,000 teachers and visited 770 classrooms in 118 school districts through her “Classroom Chronicles” tour.
  •  With the release of new scores from the most recent National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) science tests, Tennessee now ranks in the top half of all states on three key national assessments – a tremendous improvement from just a decade ago, when the state began to think differently about how it approaches education after receiving two “Fs” from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for how students were being prepared.