Leaders at the state level weighed in on Tennessee's education system with the presentation of a report from the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE).
SCORE Chairman and former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist praised unprecedented progress amongst Tennessee students and laid out a five point plan to keep the momentum going in 2013.
According to the SCORE annual report, in 2012 Tennessee students made the most academic progress in the state's history.
Fifty-five thousand more students are now proficient or advanced in math and 38,000 more students are proficient or advanced in science than two years ago.
SCORE also reports double digit statewide gains in high school graduation rates, and a 15% bump in college enrollment.
Frist commended students and teachers for the gains but cautioned leaders not to become distracted.
For the coming year SCORE's first priority, says Frist, is "sustained policy leadership."
"As work has shifted from policy development to implementation, the state must remain committed to ensuring reforms are effectively implemented," says Frist.
Now that they've developed 'Common Core Standards,' and a new teacher evaluation system, SCORE says school boards, legislators, educators and parents need to support the policies.
Frist also says the state needs to focus on fostering great teaching
SCORE wants to see a statewide recruiter working to bring the best teaching talent to the state.
The chairman says they also want to raise the bar on current teachers by requiring tougher licensing requirements.
"2013 should be the year when Tennessee ensures that only the most effective candidates are teaching our students," says Frist.
That goes for principals too.
He says they want to better support school leadership by creating a better principal evaluation system. Also critical to advancing leadership, says SCORE, is giving teachers more opportunities for leadership roles.
The fourth priority for 2013 according to SCORE should be getting more technology in classrooms.
"The use of technology to support instruction is on the rise," says Frist.
He says in 2014 the state will move to online assessments of students to give parents immediate feedback on their children's academic progress.
"This will allow for instruction that will tailor to an individual student's needs," says Frist.
And finally Frist says educators need to partner with parents by empowering them understand 'Common Core' goals and what they can do the help their students achieve them.