Transforming Education in Tennessee



FTTTLogoIn 2010, Tennessee was selected by the U.S. Department of Education to receive $500 million as part of the Race to the Top competition to implement a comprehensive
educational-improvement plan focused on:

  • transitioning to high-quality standards and assessments
  • turning around the state’s lowest-performing schools
  • using data to improve instruction
  • supporting and developing great teachers and leaders
  • turning around the state’s lowest-performing schools

The challenge for the Tennessee Department of Education (TDE) was aligning and thoughtfully implementing all these initiatives to move education forward for the state’s more than 66,000 educators and nearly 1 million students.


As TDE’s largest First to the Top implementation partner,
Battelle for Kids (BFK) embarked on a multi-year engagement
that included:   

  • Launching the Tennessee Student Progress Portal to provide statewide access to online learning, resources, and information about First to the Top services and supports
  • Providing value-added training, resources, and support to nearly every K–12 public Rttt_quoteschool district through a tiered professional development model to maximize the
    use of student growth measures and other data for school improvement
  • Developing a blended learning model of face-to-face training complemented by online courses and resources to build teachers and school leaders’ assessment literacy and capacity to implement high-quality formative instructional
    practices (FIP)
    that lead to increased student motivation
    and achievement
  • Building a Strategic Compensation Learning Suite—including a series of research-based, online courses—to help districts explore, design, implement, and manage a strategic compensation program that best fits their organizational goals. BFK also organized regional meetings and provided coaching to inform change management and engage stakeholders every step of the way  
  • Researching the practices of highly effective teachers and principals to support the growth of educators across Tennessee


Impact and Results

As a result of this partnership:


After implementation of First to the Top, Tennessee experienced three consecutive years of overall growth on the TCAP achievement tests.

  • In 2013, the majority of Tennessee districts increased scores and narrowed achievement gaps for black, Hispanic, and Native American students in almost every subject.
  • According to the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress report, Tennessee was the fastest-improving state in education in the nation.
  • In 2012, nearly every Tennessee district saw proficiency levels increase and two-thirds improved in every 3–8 subject.

Learn more about Battelle for Kids’ work to move education forward in Tennessee at