Tennessee Education Receives ‘C-’ Grade From StudentsFirst

By Bill Dries

StudentsFirst, the national education reform group headed by former Washington schools leader Michelle Rhee, gives the state of Tennessee a grade of “C-” on the state’s education policy so far.

It is the first-ever state policy report card issued by the group.

The grades, which come with grade point averages, are based on “elevating teaching, empowering parents and spending public dollars wisely,” according to the group’s announcement of the grades.

Tennessee’s grade point average is 1.75, by the StudentsFirst standards.

Tennessee got high grades for its efforts toward reforming methods for teacher evaluation and pay. But the group said the state should take bolder steps toward mutual consent with teachers on those standards and paying teachers more. StudentsFirst also called for a move to vouchers and the ability for the state to authorize charter schools outside the Achievement School District.

The group also advocates a so-called “trigger law” that allows the conversion of a low performing school to charter status if enough parents of children at the school sign a petition.

All three of those ideas are expected to be proposed and discussed this year in the Tennessee Legislature.

Tennessee’s grade placed it 11th in the StudentsFirst ranking. Louisiana and Florida got the highest grades with a “B-” for each.