MOUNT JULIET -- Tennessee had the largest academic growth on the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) of any U.S. state, making Tennessee the fastest-improving state in the nation.
Gov. Bill Haslam made that announcement Wednesday, noting that the NAEP results also show that Tennessee had the largest growth of any state in a single testing cycle since NAEP started nationwide assessments a decade ago.
"These historic gains are a result of years of hard work by a lot of people across Tennessee: our teachers, students, principals, superintendents, parents, lawmakers, school board members, business leaders, and many others," Haslam said in a news release.
"As a state we've come together to make education a top priority," the governor said.
Haslam was joined for the announcement by former Gov. Phil Bredesen; State Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman; Wilson County Director of Schools Timothy Setterlund; Cicely Woodard, an eighth-grade math teacher at Rose Park Magnet Middle School in Nashville; and state legislators, business and community leaders, and students, faculty and staff of West Wilson Middle School in Mt. Juliet, where the event was held.
Commonly known as "the nation's report card," NAEP assesses students in fourth- and eighth-grade reading and math.
All 50 states have taken NAEP since 2003, and the results are regarded across the country as the best way to compare educational outcomes across states.
Tennessee students' combined growth on all four tests in 2013 exceeded the growth of all other states.
For data on Tennessee's NAEP results, visit: http://nationsreportcard.gov/reading_math_2013
The state improved in overall national ranking in each of the four tests, according to the release.
For fourth-grade students, Tennessee went from 46th in the nation in math to 37th and from 41st to 31st in reading.
Tennessee also had very strong growth for African-American students, and the state saw gains in overall results while significantly increasing the participation of special education students on the test.
"This administration's goal has been to be the fastest-improving state in the nation by 2015," Huffman said.
"We've asked a lot of our teachers and students, and they have delivered; they deserve the thanks for this progress. Dramatically improving results for kids is hard work, but this is what hard work can do," Huffman added.
Tennessee has also seen three years of continuous growth on its state assessments, also known as the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP).
Since 2010, 91,000 more students are on grade level in math, and 52,000 more students are on grade level in science.