Our Methodology

Tennesseans for Student Success publishes this scorecard to ensure parents, teachers, and advocates for high-quality public education have, at their fingertips, a detailed analysis of each legislative session, its impact on public education, and an easy-to-understand report on how each member of the Tennessee General Assembly voted on the policies that drive student achievement in the state.

We conducted a comprehensive examination of each lawmaker’s record on policies supporting high-quality public schools. Legislators received an overall grade on a scale of 0 to 100, as well as a letter grade, A to F. Lawmakers scoring between 90 and 100 earned an A; 80 to 89 earned a B; 70 to 79 earned a C; 60 to 69 earned a D; and anything below a 59.9 is considered an F. In addition to their overall score, legislators were also graded on their support of each of TSS’s policy principles:

  • Supporting high academic standards
  • Supporting an assessment aligned to the state’s K-12 standards
  • Supporting an accountability system that incorporates student achievement data to improve teaching and better align a teacher’s professional development program
  • Supporting public school choice, giving parents and students the opportunity to attend a public school that best fits the needs of the child

Not all of TSS’s policy priorities will come up for a vote in each legislative session.

Tennesseans for Student Success will record committee and floor votes on bills related to our policy priorities. We also count a legislator’s sponsorship of bills that are in support or opposition to our priorities into a legislator’s overall score.

All members who have an opportunity to vote on bills on which TSS has taken a position will receive a score based on their voting record. Depending on committee assignments, some members will have more opportunities to vote on relevant bills than others. Voting in support of a TSS position will earn a member one (1) point per vote. Serving as the prime sponsor of a bill supported by TSS will earn members 0.5 additional points, while sponsoring a bill opposed by TSS will result in a member being penalized by 0.75 points per bill.

Sample Score Calculations—Rep. John Doe

7 (points for voting in support of TSS positions) – 0.75 (sponsoring TSS opposed bill)

 10 (opportunities to vote)

62.5% (F)

Sample Score Calculation—Sen. Jane Doe

8 (points for voting in support of TSS positions) + 0.5 (sponsoring TSS supported bill)

 10 (opportunities to vote)

85% (B)

Excused absences from floor votes are not counted against a member, though “present not voting,” passing, or failing to vote while present on the day’s roll call will be scored as a “no” vote. It will be assumed, given no substantive changes in the legislation, that members casting voice votes in committee but who record a vote in a latter committee on a roll call or in a vote on the floor would have held the same position in the committee in which the voice vote was cast. The next recorded vote will then also count as their votes in previous committee action.

Lawmakers earning a score of 100% will earn a letter grade of A+. Those with a numerical score over 100% will earn a “top of class” badge that will accompany their profile. Under each member’s individual score, TSS will also calculate the average score of the chamber in which they serve. We also provide a “Lifetime Score” for each legislator, but in 2017 (the first year of this scorecard) the lifetime and session score will be the same.

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