Tennessee's Ranking Improves on National "Kids Count" Report - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Tennessee's Ranking Improves on National "Kids Count" Report

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NASHVILLE, Tenn.- When considering multiple factors, new data shows children across the state are doing better than ever before. According to Annie E. Casey Foundation's "Kids Count" report, Tennessee ranks 39th in the country for children's overall well-being. It's the state's best ranking.

"I'm very optimistic about the future, not just because we've made these gains," Mary Graham, President of the United Ways of Tennessee, said. "We really have the partnerships in place to take it to the next level."

The improvement comes despite the impact of the recession. According to the report, between 2000 and 2009, the number of children living in poverty increased to 20 percent across the state.

Last year more than 150,000 children had at least one parent who was unemployed. The number of children that have been affected by a foreclosure is also up.

They're all stressors educators say can serve as a barrier in education.

"We have about 750 students," Stratford STEM Magnet High School Principal, Michael Steele said. "About 95 percent of those students are on free and reduced lunch."

At his school, they meet students where they are.

"We have to teach the whole child. A lot of times you have to get through the social and emotional issues before you can even get to the academic issues," he said.

Steele says the dedication of his staff is needed to turn things around.

"We have tutoring that goes on everyday after school. We have A+ Content Recovery that goes on during school. We have tutoring that takes place on Saturday. We have Saturday schools leading up to our testing."

"By strengthening what's happening in our schools and in our educational process, we're really strengthening the future of our state," Bobbi Lussier, Assistant Commissioner of School Readiness and Early Learning said.

For now, they're celebrating the small victories along the way.




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