National Education Grade: Needs Improvement

Tennessee snuck up one spot on the Report Card on American Education compiled by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). We're now a dismal 37, instead of an even more dismal 38 (at number one, Minnesota is best; at number 51, Washington D.C. is worst). Tennessee's downfall? A majority of students in Tennessee public schools failed to meet proficiency levels in fourth- and eighth-grade mathematics and reading, despite decades-long increases in expenditures for public elementary and secondary education. The slight increase is accounted for in part by Tennessee's decade-long increase in cumulative ACT scores, averaging 4.5 percent. Here are some other statistics evaluated by ALEC in computing the state's score:

(State average / National Average / TN National Rank)

Expenditures per pupil

$6,930 / $9,389 / 46

Average salary of instructional staff

$42,537 / $46,593 / 33

Graduates taking ACT

88 percent / 43 percent / NA

2006 high school graduation rate

63 percent / 70.2 percent / NA