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Gov. Haslam has Ambitious Education Goal

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam says he’s looking to improve Tennessee students' proficiency scores by 20 percent over the next five years. Haslam says that kind of improvement would provide evidence that his education overhaul is working.

Education commissioner Kevin Huffman says assessment scores currently show that only 40 percent of Tennessee third graders rank as proficient in reading, while just 29 percent of seventh graders are proficient in math.

Huffman is implementing what the administration calls a “data-driven” approach to education. One of those data-points will be controversial new teacher classroom evaluations.

Some educators and lawmakers have asked Huffman to delay implementation of the evaluation system, pending further study, but the commissioner says it’s important to get a read on classroom performance this year.

"I think it's critical that we provide feedback in real-time to teachers. We can't wait until the end of the year. This is a huge opportunity for us, classroom-by-classroom, to have meaningful discussions about instruction, and work on getting better while the year is still in progress."

Huffman says his agency will meet the Governor’s new goal by improving student proficiency scores 4 percent in each of the next five years.