Tennessee officials on Thursday announced a goal of becoming the fastest-improving state in the nation when it comes to teacher salaries.
The announcement was made by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman.
“We’re asking our students to be the fastest improving in the nation in education achievement, and the data is showing that we’re making real progress,” Haslam said in a press release. “Teachers are the single most important factor in student achievement, and higher accountability for teachers and proven results should be met with better rewards.”
The state has had three consecutive years of growth in TCAP results, including the largest TCAP gains in Tennessee history last year, the release said. TCAP results also show Tennessee has 91,000 more students on grade-level math and more than 50,000 more on grade level in science.
“This is a long-term goal, and I think it is one of the most important ones we’ve taken on,” Haslam said. “We are committed to investing in our educators and working in partnership with the General Assembly and our local school districts to examine where we are every year, track our progress against other states, and make investment decisions that will move Tennessee forward.”
The release said Haslam and the General Assembly have committed more than $130 million during the past three years in new, recurring funds for teacher salaries, translating into the average Tennessee teacher earning $50,000 per year. The governor and legislature have also worked together to increase overall education funding by more than $400 million. In that time, the average teacher pay in Tennessee has improved at twice the national average, according to state and National Education Association statistics, according to the release.