Improving the Achievement of Tennessee Students

Analysis of the National Assessment of Educational Progress

by David W. Grissmer, Ann Flanagan

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This study evaluates the performance of Tennessee’s students using data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and explores the factors contributing to differences in this performance relative to other states to identify potential improvements in policy and spending decisions. It compares Tennessee’s performance on selected NAEP tests with that of other participating states in the region and nation, and compares surveys of teachers and data on family characteristics and state-level spending on educational resources (such as teacher salaries, pupil-teacher ratios, and pre-kindergarten enrollment). This study employs statistical models using state-level data to investigate the role of family background and educational resource measures in achievement differences. While it is intended to benefit Tennessee policymakers, this study, which builds on prior RAND research, may be of interest to policymakers from other states for its approach and its comparisons of achievement and other measures across states. The appendix provides descriptions of the methodology, data, and estimation results that support the study’s analysis.

The research described in this report was carried out by the RAND Corporation under the auspices of RAND Education and supported by the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation technical report series. RAND technical reports may include research findings on a specific topic that is limited in scope or intended for a narrow audience; present discussions of the methodology employed in research; provide literature reviews, survey instruments, modeling exercises, guidelines for practitioners and research professionals, and supporting documentation; or deliver preliminary findings. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure that they meet high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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