Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Why are Tennessee student academic test scores so low?


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  The latest Tennessee student academic test scores are out, and the numbers are discouraging. Only about one-third of the state’s elementary and high school students are performing at grade level or above.

So WMOT asked Belmont University Education Department Chair Mark Hogan to tell us what he thinks needs to happen to make Tennessee schools more competitive on the national level.

Dr. Hogan says first and foremost Tennessee needs more and better qualified teachers. He says the way to do that is to reduce the cost of being a teacher.

“For teachers to get into education presently it costs them a little over a thousand dollars just on the state testing programs just to get certified which is the highest of any profession in Tennessee.”

Dr. Hogan says greater collaboration is also important. He notes that only about 10 to 12 percent of parents, for example, are engaged with schools.

“I think we’re still in the process of a lot of blame on educators as far as what’s not happening, but I’m not seeing a lot of collaboration occurring either.”

Third and finally, Dr. Hogan says overemphasis on standardized tests is counterproductive.

“We’ve been locked into that cycle, well almost since 2001, since No-Child-Left-Behind, and I think we’ve got to get out of that model and go back to ‘What does a child need to be successful in the workplace?’”

Dr. Hogan contends that employability is a far better indicator of school success than any academic score.

If you’d like to listen the complete interview with the Belmont Education Chair, look for a link to it in this story at WMOT.org.