Patrick Smith Named to Lead Tennessee First to the Top Oversight Team

Wednesday, October 06, 2010 | 09:18 am
NASHVILLE – Governor Phil Bredesen today announced Patrick Smith has been appointed interim executive director of the Tennessee First to the Top Oversight Team. Smith will lead implementation of Tennessee’s First to the Top plan to invest a $501 million Race to the Top grant in public education reform initiatives that will improve student achievement over the next four years.
“Patrick is well-known and respected by education stakeholders across the state,” said Bredesen. “I’m extremely pleased he has agreed to head up our First to the Top implementation team, providing guidance and stability through the period of transition in the months ahead to ensure we maintain momentum and focus as we work to improve the quality of education we provide our children.”
“Tennessee has become a national model for education reform,” said Smith. “This is one of the most important and exciting periods for public education in our state’s history and I’m grateful to have this opportunity to help ensure we achieve our goals for improving student achievement.”
The state’s First to the Top plan was developed with broad, nonpartisan support from a wide variety of stakeholders. It details how Tennessee will improve student performance in five key areas:
1.    Adopting higher standards and assessments to prepare students to succeed in college or the workplace.
2.    Building systems that use data to measure student growth and success in a way that helps teachers and principals improve instruction in the classroom.
3.    Finding, retaining and rewarding the most effective teachers and principals, including significant investments in professional development.
4.   Turning around the lowest-performing schools.
5.   Creating a unified strategy to strengthen Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education.
Smith was previously a partner at Southern Strategy Group in Nashville. Before that, he served as deputy director in the Office of State Planning and Policy where he worked on projects to modernize and improve Tennessee’s K-12 Basic Education Program funding formula and to implement the Tennessee Diploma Project to increase the rigor and relevance of academic standards in Tennessee. As a member of Governor Bredesen’s legislative team, he also led several major administration education initiatives including the state’s nationally-recognized Voluntary Pre-K program and an initiative to address teacher pay equalization.
Smith has worked with the Tennessee Education Association and the Tennessee School Boards Association. He served as a legal consultant with the University of Tennessee’s Institute for Public Service and represented Tennessee on the Education Commission of the States and as a member of the board of directors of the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation.
The Ashland City, Tenn., native holds a Bachelor of Science in Public Administration from Middle Tennessee State University and a Juris Doctor from the Nashville School of Law.