For the past 14 years, policymakers have sought the answer to a complex question: How can we make sure that every single child–regardless of race, gender, disability, poverty, or language–will achieve proficiency on standardized tests?

We tried No Child Left Behind, and that didn’t work. We tried Race to the Top, and that did’t work. We tried the Marzano method and the Danielson rubric, and still we struggle. We tried bonus pay and threats of firing staffs and closing school, and that did not suffice.

But now we know there is a sure-fire method. It comes from Tennessee, and it’s called “the ear-bud method.” Tennessee is a fertile place for reform: not only was it the state where Value-added Modeling was birthed nearly 30 years ago, but it was one of the first states to win a Race to the Top award.

It works for 100% of children. No one fails. It is, in fact, a silver bullet–or a magic earbud.

Merry Christmas!