Tennessee students lead nation in academic growth - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Tennessee students lead nation in academic growth

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

A new report shows Tennessee students are leading the nation in academic growth.

Commonly known as "the nation's report card," the National Assessment of Educational Progress assesses students in fourth- and eighth-grade reading and math. The report released Thursday shows Tennessee students had the largest growth of any state from 2011-2013, with a 22-point growth across all subject areas. The next closest state in growth was Indiana with 15.

READ: National Report Card

 For fourth-grade students, Tennessee went from 46th to 37th in math and from 41st to 31st in reading.

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam was in Memphis Thursday afternoon to announcing the results of the test.

Though there were no numbers for specific school districts across the state, including Western Tennessee, Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman said Shelby County students represent such a large portion of the state that they had to do well.

"First you have the legislature that passes the laws right? And then our job is to help implement them or make them happen," Gov. Haslam said.

Eighth graders at John P. Freeman Optional School received a real life civics lesson from Gov. Haslam. The Volunteer State's chief executive was in Memphis to announce that the state has the fastest improving students in the nation.

"We are incredibly grateful to the professional educators who made this happen," Gov. Haslam said. "We want to thank our teachers and principals and superintendents and folks who really have worked hard to move Tennessee forward."

Tennessee students had the highest level of academic growth this year according to the National Assessments of Educational Progress, which tests fourth and eighth grade students in math and reading.

"Our students are actually about a half grade level ahead of where they were just two years ago, which is really remarkable progress," Huffman said.

Huffman joined the governor and Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dorsey Hopson for the announcement.

In 2011 Tennessee fourth graders were ranked 46th in the nation in math. This year they moved up to 37th. In reading they were 41st in 2011 and moved up to be ranked 31st this year.

The improvements for eighth graders were not as drastic. In math they were ranked 45th in 2011 and 43rd this year. The reading scores moved Tennessee eighth graders from 41st to the 34th ranking.

"Our results for African American students went up a little bit more, even than our results for all students," Huffman said.

The Haslam administration's goal was to become the fastest improving state in the nation by 2015. They reached the goal two years early.

Gov. Haslam said there's still work to be done.

"I don't think any of us as Tennesseans are satisfied will say, 'Oh yeah, we're really happy to be in the 30s,'" the governor said. "I think the message is stay the course, keep pressing forward, and expecting and asking more."

Former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen was with Gov. Haslam earlier in the day when he made the announcement in Nashville. Democrats are saying policies passed during the Bredesen administration helped made these scores possible.

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