Tennesse launches STEM network, moves forward on Race To The Top plans

Yesterday, Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen launched the STEM Innovation Network which will expand the the teaching and learning of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in K-12 public schools across the state.  The Network is established as a project within the Tennessee Department of Education and will coordinate with local agencies on teacher development and curriculum.  The state will also work with the Battelle Memorial Institute a national leader in STEM education.

The Governor also established the STEM Advisory Council which will advise the Department of Education and the Battelle Institute on the operation of the Network. The advisory council will be made up of 14 members, including the commissioners of the Departments of Education, Economic and Community Development, and the chairs of the Senate and House Education committees. The Governor will also appoint 10 additional members to the advisory council, including people from the State Board of Education, Tennessee Board of Regents, University of Tennessee, five representatives of STEM-related industries in Tennessee and two K-12 educators teaching in Tennessee public schools.

Currently, Tennessee is one of two states that are slated to recieve funding under the federal Race To The Top program, an initiative which makes states compete against each other for funding help on education reform programs. The US Department of Education gave final approval to Tennessee’s plans and budget this week. Under the state’s plan, educators and administrators will be focused on four key areas going forward:

• Adopting standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace;

• Building data systems that measure student growth and success, and inform teachers and principals how to improve instruction;

• Recruiting, developing, rewarding, and retaining effective teachers and principals, especially where they are needed most; and

• Turning around their lowest-performing schools.

Tennessee partnered with the Battelle Memorial Institute on their application for the Race To The Top program.

The Governor hopes that together, both initiatives will provide rapid and tangible improvements to Tennessee’s education system.

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