For a state that’s done a lot to support its low-achieving students, Tennessee scores low on incentivizing schools to develop its gifted ones, says a new national report from a conservative-leaning think tank.
Tennessee’s accountability system, which measures the quality of the state’s public schools, earned only one out of four stars in the report released Wednesday by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute in Washington D.C.
To improve accountability, Tennessee should give additional points to schools that boost student scores to the highest possible level on state tests, the report said. It also should report gifted and talented students’ scores separately, as it does for racial minorities, English language learners, and other subgroups of students.
Tennessee wasn’t singled out in Fordham’s analysis, which said most states have a lapse in accountability for advanced students. The report identified just four states — Arkansas, Ohio, Oregon and South Carolina — that have systems in place to encourage schools to focus on their most highest-performing students, as well as their lowest performers.
The recommendations come as states are tinkering with how they rate schools under the nation’s new federal education law.
Like previous versions of the law, the Every Student Succeeds Act requires that states identify the lowest-performing schools. While the new law continues to require states to measure the quality of schools using results from annual standardized tests in reading and math, states are free to choose other measures of school quality.
Fordham’s report asserts that an unintended consequence of previous accountability systems is that high-performing students, especially those at struggling schools, were left without support to push them even further in their academic pursuits.
“It’s wrong for any child to miss out on academic challenges at school, and we should do everything we can to develop the full potential of all our students, including high achievers,” the report’s authors wrote.