DeVos appoints Tennessee lawmaker to board overseeing the Nation’s Report Card

Rep. Mark White shepherded Gov. Bill Lee's charter school bill through the House Education Committee on Wednesday. The Memphis Republican also chairs the panel.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has appointed Tennessee legislative leader Mark White to the board that helps set policy for the tests known as the Nation’s Report Card.

White, a Memphis Republican who has served in the Tennessee General Assembly since 2010, will hold a four-year term on the 26-member governing board that oversees the assessment of thousands of students nationwide. 

Known formally as the National Assessment of Educational Progress, NAEP has played an important role in evaluating the condition and progress of American education since 1969. The board determines subjects and content to be tested, sets achievement levels for reporting, and releases the results to the public.

In a split decision in August, the board decided that the congressionally mandated tests should proceed in spring 2021, even though members acknowledged that the data might not be accurate or even useful since many students might not be back in school buildings because of the coronavirus.

States are required to participate in order to receive federal Title I funds for schools serving low-income students.  

A decade ago, Tennessee students scored near the bottom of states in reading and math proficiency. Since 2011, however, the state’s national rankings have steadily increased.

As chairman of the legislature’s House Education Committee, White has been a strong advocate for state testing and using the results to hold students, teachers, schools, and districts accountable. He is currently running for reelection.

White is a former teacher, principal, and small-business owner and co-founded the Global Children’s Educational Foundation to provide financial assistance and educational opportunities to impoverished children in Panama.

He is one of four appointments announced last week by DeVos.

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