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Candice McQueen, Commissioner of Education

Candice McQueen


Dr. Candice McQueen was sworn in as Tennessee’s commissioner of education in January 2015. McQueen led a statewide effort to create a new strategic plan and vision for our schools called Tennessee Succeeds focused on increasing postsecondary and career readiness for all of Tennessee’s 1 million students. In summer 2017, Tennessee‘s new state plan was approved under the Every Student Succeeds Act, which builds on the work started under Tennessee Succeeds. Some of the hallmarks of the plan include a focus on ensuring Ready Graduates by supporting more early college coursework and industry certification attainment, a renewed accountability and support focus on improving achievement and growth for all students, and elevating a continuum of interventions for the state’s lowest performing schools. 

Under McQueen’s leadership, Tennessee recently announced the state’s highest graduation rate in its history at 89.1%, best overall ACT at 20.1 – a number that represents all public school students in the state, across the board improvements in the 2nd year of the new state assessment, and a record high number of students taking and attaining credit for early college coursework. Tennessee has also refocused and reinvested in literacy with a statewide Read to be Ready campaign, new standards with comprehensive guidance and training on teaching reading, a statewide coaching network for elementary reading teachers, and summer camps for students who are furthest behind with an investment of over $30 million. 

Over the last three years, Commissioner McQueen worked with the governor and the general assembly to pass the largest investments in K-12 education without a tax increase in Tennessee’s history – an increase that has resulted in more than $430 million invested in education with the majority going to teacher salaries. 

McQueen has also connected with over 14,000 teachers on her Classroom Chronicles Tour, and spent time in close to 90% of Tennessee’s school districts. McQueen has opened lines of communication between the department and the public through avenues such as the Assessment Task Force and Assessment Task Force 2.0, Early Literacy Council, Career Forward Task Force, and the department’s inaugural Parent and Student Advisory Councils. In addition, she continues to oversee and participate in the department’s Teacher Advisory Council and the Governor’s Teacher Cabinet.

Prior to her appointment as Commissioner of Education, McQueen served as senior vice president and dean of the college of education at Lipscomb University. Under her leadership, Lipscomb’s college of education and teacher preparation program were consistently highlighted as one of the top teacher training programs for quality and effectiveness. Prior to joining Lipscomb University, McQueen was awarded multiple awards for both her teaching and the curriculum design of a new magnet school.

She began her career as a classroom teacher, teaching in both public and private elementary and middle schools. Dr. McQueen has a bachelor's degree from Lipscomb, a master's degree from Vanderbilt, and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas. She serves on the Board of Trustees of the University of Tennessee and the Tennessee Board of Regents and was recently appointed to serve on the national board for the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and as a commissioner for Education Commission of the States (ECS).  She is also a member of Chiefs for Change.