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A seat at the table: Lessons from Tennessee’s rapid achievement and equity gains




state policy, achievement, achievement gaps, hierarchical linear modeling, mixed methods


This study complements literature on state policymaking by exploring one state’s achievement trends and policymaking during a period of remarkable achievement gains. I use mixed methods, drawing on hierarchical linear modeling and semi-structured interviews with policy actors, to explore the case of Tennessee in the post-recession period. Results indicate that Tennessee’s school districts improved faster than districts in other states during this period without doing so at the expense of historically disadvantaged student groups. I argue that Tennessee’s trends are a result of strong policies and a robust approach to the policymaking process.


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Author Biography

Kaylee T. Matheny, Stanford University

Kaylee T. Matheny is a PhD candidate at the Stanford Graduate School of Education, an incoming postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University, and an incoming assistant professor of public policy at Georgetown University. Her research uses mixed methods to understand socioeconomic inequality in educational opportunities.

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How to Cite

Matheny, K. T. (2023). A seat at the table: Lessons from Tennessee’s rapid achievement and equity gains. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 31.