• Early Literacy is a Top Priority for Tennessee’s Schools and Students

    Friday, November 18, 2022 | 10:15am

    By Ryan Holt, State Board of Education Member for the Fifth Congressional District There’s no doubt that reading well by third grade is vital to a student’s future success. In fact, a long-term study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that students not proficient in reading by the end of third grade were four times more likely to drop out of high school than proficient readers. This fact is especially concerning because only 36 percent of Tennessee third graders scored proficient in English language arts (ELA) last year. Evidence-based studies such as this, as well as COVID-19 school disruptions, led Tennessee officials to rethink our state’s early literacy strategy. As a parent with a son entering third grade in Tennessee public schools next year and another not far behind, I wanted to familiarize myself with Tennessee’s new literacy law. What I found was that while the law isn’t perfect, it includes multiple pathways and research-backed supports for more students to enter the fourth grade as the strong readers we all want them to be. Tennessee’s literacy law encourages the state, school districts, and schools to develop necessary interventions and supports for students not proficient in ELA. This is an opportunity for Tennessee to reenvision how we support students in the earliest and arguably most-critical stages of their education. It is my hope as a parent and State Board of Education member that clarity around this law will reduce parents’ anxieties and highlight some of the resources recently introduced to support their students. Third-grade students demonstrate their ELA proficiency on a test known as the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program, or TCAP. Students are considered proficient with either an “on track” or “mastered” performance level on the TCAP. Students who score “approaching” or “below” could — if their families take no other action — be required to repeat the third grade. While this can sound alarming, there are multiple exemptions and alternative pathways to fourth-grade promotion that parents should know about. Schools and districts are encouraged to work with parents to give students the support they need to strengthen their reading skills and enter the fourth grade on time.

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  • State Board of Education Considers Changes to edTPA Requirements

    Monday, November 07, 2022 | 09:00am

    At our October quarterly meeting, State Board of Education members considered amending Tennessee’s educator licensure requirements for job-embedded candidates. This change, if approved, would remove the pedagogical edTPA assessment requirements for job-embedded educator licensure candidates. A job-embedded licensure candidate differs from a traditional licensure candidate in that these individuals have already completed a Bachelor’s degree and serve as the teacher of record in a classroom while actively working on completing educator preparation requirements. Like traditional licensure candidates, job-embedded candidates must still demonstrate expertise in their content area, either by passing content assessments in their area of focus — such as the English language arts PRAXIS exam — or by having completed an undergraduate major in the focus area. After consultation with districts and other stakeholders across the state, the Board has proposed this policy change to reduce local teacher shortages. The edTPA exam is a performance-based assessment designed to measure educators’ teaching readiness. While the edTPA assessment is crucial for the preparation of traditional educator licensure candidates, the assessment is duplicative for job-embedded candidates who already serve in a classroom full-time and are regularly evaluated by school leadership.

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  • Dr. Sara Morrison Named Winner of 2022 "Friend of TOSS" Award from Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents

    Monday, September 19, 2022 | 08:58am

    Friend of TOSS Award Announced at TOSS Awards Banquet GATLINBURG –The Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents released the following statement announcing Dr. Sara Morrison as the winner of the 2022 Friend of TOSS Award: The Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents (TOSS) met in Gatlinburg, TN on September 18th, 2022, for their annual Awards Banquet, where the winner of the Friend of TOSS Award was announced. This year the honored award recipient was Dr. Sara Morrison, Executive Director of the Tennessee State Board of Education. The Friend of TOSS Award is given for educational leadership in the support of public school students in Tennessee. Dr. Sara Morrison joined the Tennessee Department of Education as their Executive Director in January of 2015. In this role, she works with the eleven-member, Governor appointed, legislatively confirmed, board on policy review and development across all areas of Tennessee K-12 Education. The state board also plays an important role in oversights of K-12 implementation, which involves close partnership with the Department of Education, educator stakeholders, and members of the Tennessee General Assembly.

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  • Help Tennessee Honor its Military Children and Those Who Serve Them

    Thursday, August 11, 2022 | 09:15am

    There’s no doubt that the last few years have been tough for our students. We see it in the news daily. Mental health, school closures, and declining literacy rates have been ongoing topics since the pandemic began. However, one group of students continually faces these challenges without noticeable public awareness or concern: children of military families. As a veteran, I have had the pleasure of forming friendships and connecting with many other veterans and military families. I always love to hear from so-called “Army Brats” and children of service members. Being a part of a military family provides an abundance of amazing experiences and memories. But it also requires great sacrifices that most people will never fully comprehend. For military children, these sacrifices include educational challenges, such as sports eligibility, enrollment, class placement, and varying graduation requirements. To meet the needs of these students, the Military Interstate Children's Compact Commission (MIC3) was formed. All 50 states have joined the compact and agreed to implement consistent rules and policies in regard to military children. These aligned policies support students and families who are impacted by military relocation, allowing for smoother transitions to schools in different states. By removing much of the bureaucratic red tape, children of military families can change schools without setbacks, such as incompatible transcripts or graduation requirements. Tennessee’s own MIC3 state council is composed of education leaders, legislators, military personnel, and state policymakers to ensure our state’s alignment with the provisions of the national compact and to directly address concerns or questions from military families. Each spring, MIC3 state councils award the Purple Star School Award to schools that go above and beyond in their service to military students. Purple Star Schools must have dedicated staff contacts for military families, guidance to facilitate school transitions, and military family-friendly activities, such as celebrating the Month of the Military Child in April.

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  • Teachers are the Foundation for Tennessee’s Success

    Tuesday, July 12, 2022 | 08:45am

    Educating and guiding the next generation of students is undoubtedly one of the highest callings. While one can argue the merits of other important careers, the success of these professionals would not happen without the foundational education obtained in K-12. The education profession is charged with preparing students for all other careers and to that end, we owe an enormous debt of gratitude to our classroom teachers, the institutions that prepare educators, and all other education professionals across the state. As a society, we tend to take educators for granted. Too often, their voices are not heard, and their needs and concerns go unaddressed. They also get used as punching bags when someone takes issue with a particular educational situation. Unfortunately, this leaves the entire profession with a black mark. It is unacceptable for those working tirelessly as educators to be vilified by the public for their effort and sacrifice. Tennessee educators deserve high praise for their daily successes in the classroom, particularly in light of the high demands of this profession. In my time serving on the State Board of Education, I have had the opportunity to visit countless classrooms and marvel at the way teachers establish excitement for learning and achieve incredible student engagement. I have been impressed to hear students clamoring to respond to questions and problems needing to be solved. Seeing teachers engage with students in the classroom has been the highlight of my service with the State Board.

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  • Education Recovery and Innovation Commission Releases Final Report

    Wednesday, June 29, 2022 | 06:13pm

    (NASHVILLE, Tenn.) On Wednesday, Tara Scarlett, Chair of the state’s Education Recovery and Innovation Commission shared the Commission’s third and final report on needed enhancements and improvements to Tennessee’s K-12 and higher education systems. The report, A Vision: Every Tennessean Will Have High-Quality Education Necessary for Life, expands upon the Commission’s earlier work in exploring both the short- and long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on education to introduce policy recommendations for improving education in Tennessee. Recommendations from the Commission’s final report focus on nine priority areas: Ensure students master literacy and numeracy skills. Address learning remediation and acceleration needs. Strengthen, retain, expand, and diversify the state’s education professionals. Equip schools and districts to address students’ well-being. Optimize capacity for flexible, high quality school options. Redesign high school to ensure students have access to flexible pathways to college and career. Streamline postsecondary systems to facilitate lifelong learning. Strengthen alignment across the K-12, postsecondary, and workforce systems. Incentivize locally led innovation. Recommendations from the Year 3 report push Tennessee’s education systems into a modern era, suggesting the creation of new incentive programs for educator recruitment, expanding work-based learning opportunities, and increasing opportunities for students to demonstrate academic proficiency at their own pace, among 81 other recommendations. “Our final report is the culmination of two years’ worth of work by a dedicated group of leaders with the input of educators and experts from across the state and nation. It is intended to address known education gaps and to set Tennessee up as an education leader for the next decade,” said Tara Scarlett, chair of the Education Recovery and Innovation Commission. “It is our hope that with these recommendations, every Tennessee student will receive the high-quality education they need to excel in the workforce and in life.” During the 2022 legislative session, the Tennessee General Assembly passed several recommendations posed by the Commission, including Public Chapter 760, which permits state colleges or universities to establish a teacher training program in any county with any local board of education; Public Chapter 794, which creates a dual enrollment pathway between two-year and four-year institutions; and Public Chapter 884, which encourages the Tennessee Board of Regents to create a Tennessee College of Applied Technology branch for each county, expanding access for thousands of students.

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  • State Board of Education Seeks Public Feedback on Social Studies Academic Standards

    Monday, June 20, 2022 | 08:45am

    Today, the State Board of Education launched the initial public review period for Tennessee’s Academic Standards for social studies, requesting feedback from the public through July 18, 2022. Established in law in 2015, Tennessee’s process for updating the academic standards on math, English language arts, social studies and science is among the most transparent and comprehensive in the nation. This initial public survey on the social studies academic standards begins a year-long process that includes two rounds of public feedback and multiple committees of Tennessee educators. “Public feedback is critical to continuously refining our state academic standards and ensuring that they provide educators, students and parents with clear expectations at each grade level,” said Dr. Sara Morrison, executive Director of the State Board of Education. “The extensive and transparent standards review process, set out by law, is integral to our collective efforts to prepare civically engaged Tennessee students.”

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  • Science Standards Public Review Survey Extended

    Thursday, February 17, 2022 | 01:45pm

    On Thursday, the State Board of Education announced the extension of the ongoing science academic standards public review survey through March 2, 2022 at 12:00 AM CT. Originally launched on January 31, 2022, the standards review survey collects comments and feedback from the public on the state's K-12 science academic standards. The K-12 science standards set grade-specific goals that establish what students are expected to know and be able to do by the end of a given grade or course. The spring 2022 survey is the second of two public survey windows in the standards review process. During the two public review periods, the State Board invites Tennesseans to share their feedback on the state’s K-12 science standards through an online survey. Members of the public can review the recommended changes to all sections of Tennessee’s science standards. The survey includes options to indicate whether a standard should be kept, changed, removed, or moved to a different grade level, as well as space to indicate if a new standard should be added. Established in law in 2015, Tennessee’s process for updating the academic standards on math, English language arts, social studies and science is among the most transparent and comprehensive in the nation. The initial public survey on the science academic standards initiated a year-long process that includes two rounds of public feedback and input from multiple committees of Tennessee educators. Following the second survey, the Standards Recommendation Committee — a public body appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor, and speaker of the House of Representatives, and confirmed by the General Assembly — will review the proposed revisions alongside public comments to deliberately decide which standards to recommend to the State Board of Education for final adoption. These steps combine public input and expert vetting in a transparent and inclusive way. Adoption of the revised standards kicks off a preparation process that includes educator training, the adoption of aligned textbooks and instructional materials, and the alignment of state assessments to the revised standards. After these processes are complete, the revised science standards will be implemented in Tennessee classrooms during the 2024-25 school year. The State Board last received public comment on Tennessee’s science standards in 2016 and, following revision, approved the current standards in October 2016. During that review process, there were over 1,300 reviewers and 29,000 comments, each of which was considered by the educator advisory team as they updated the standards line-by-line. An overview of the academic standards review process is available on the State Board of Education website.

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  • Latest Educator Preparation Report Card Shows Long Term Improvement in Tennessee

    Tuesday, February 15, 2022 | 12:00pm

    On Tuesday, the State Board of Education Released its sixth annual Educator Preparation Report Card, a tool that evaluates preparation providers (EPPs) in Tennessee, indicating progress on the state’s key priority metrics. Previously produced by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, the State Board redesigned the Educator Preparation Report Card in 2016 to become a user-friendly web-based resource for aspiring teachers, local school districts, and EPPs themselves. Since taking ownership of the Report Card, state-level data shows long-term positive trends in high-demand endorsements, teacher diversity, and second-year retention. On the 2016 Report Card, just 22 percent of teacher candidates earned endorsements in high-demand areas such as special education, ESL, secondary science, and secondary math. However, the 2021 Report Card indicates 28 percent of teacher candidates earned one or more high-demand endorsements. During that same time period, the percentage of teacher candidates from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds increased from 13.8 percent to 15.9 percent. Teacher retention also rose slightly, with the percentage of new teachers retained for at least two years in Tennessee public schools increasing from 91.1 percent to 92.9 percent.

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  • The American Dream with a Tennessee Twist

    Wednesday, February 09, 2022 | 09:00am

    Tennessee is a rising star among states. U-Haul recently published its annual Growth Index Report that ranks states according to in-demand one-way truck rentals. Tennessee has been ranked in the top 10 states since 2017 and is now contending with Texas and Florida for the top 3 slots (we were #1 in 2020 and #3 in 2021). Tennessee’s rising popularity is not a fluke of circumstance. There are reasons why our state is attracting new residents, new businesses, and new opportunities. While we should be encouraged by these trends, we should not be satisfied. There are still many families and children who would choose a better life if given the opportunity. We can do better and we must do better, but change requires leadership and it’s not always easy or popular. Gov. Bill Lee, in collaboration with the Tennessee Department of Education, recently announced an effort to invest more thoughtfully in Tennessee’s one million K-12 students. One important component of Gov. Lee’s Draft Framework for Student Success emphasizes career and technical education during a student’s high school years. This is a good example of the type of policy and leadership that is helping Tennessee propel beyond peer states, but the reason may not be obvious.

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  • State Board Launches New Charter School Authorizer Evaluation Process

    Monday, February 07, 2022 | 11:15am

    During its February quarterly meeting last week, the State Board of Education released its first set of charter school authorizer evaluations, which ensure the effective operation of all authorizers and evaluate authorizer quality. The State Board was charged with conducting periodic charter school authorizer evaluations by the Tennessee General Assembly during the 2019 legislative session. Under the statutory requirement, the State Board developed an evaluation system based on its Quality Charter Authorizing Standards Policy. As of 2022, Tennessee is only the fourth state to adopt an authorizer evaluation process.

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  • February Quarterly Meeting to be Held Remotely

    Wednesday, February 02, 2022 | 02:46pm

    Due to the potential for inclement weather on Friday, February 4, 2022, the State Board of Education will conduct its quarterly meeting remotely. Information on the meeting page has been updated to reflect this change. The quarterly workshop scheduled for February 3, 2022, will still be held in person at the Tennessee Board of Regents. All meeting information for both the meeting and workshop is available on the State Board of Education's meeting calendar.

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  • State Board of Education Seeks Public Feedback to Advance Tennessee's Science Education Standards

    Monday, January 31, 2022 | 10:45am

    The Tennessee State Board of Education launched its second survey to collect public feedback on the state’s newly revised K-12 science academic standards earlier today. The K-12 science standards set grade-specific goals that establish what students are expected to know and be able to do by the end of a given grade or course. During the two public review periods, the State Board invites Tennesseans to share their feedback on the state’s K-12 science standards through an online survey. Members of the public can review the recommended changes to all sections of Tennessee’s science standards. The survey includes options to indicate whether a standard should be kept, changed, removed, or moved to a different grade level, as well as space to indicate if a new standard should be added.

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  • Education Recovery and Innovation Commission Reimagines High School in Second Annual Report

    Friday, December 10, 2021 | 12:46pm

    On Friday, the state’s Education Recovery and Innovation Commission (ERIC) published its second report on enhancing kindergarten to career preparation, including a recommendation to redesign Tennessee’s high schools by creating flexible pathways to college and career. ERIC’s year two report, A Revitalization: Transforming Education in Tennessee, identifies nine priority areas aimed at pandemic recovery and modernization of the state’s kindergarten to career education systems. Between offering flexible postsecondary pathways in high school, adding Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCATs) in Tennessee Transfer Pathways, addressing gaps in early literacy, expanding and diversifying the educator workforce, and incentivizing innovation at the local level, the year two report forms actionable recommendations for Tennessee to emerge as a leader in education and workforce development.

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  • Science is a Key to America’s Future

    Monday, November 01, 2021 | 09:46am

    By Bob Eby, State Board of Education Vice-Chair At the heart of every field — medicine, education, and manufacturing to name a few — there is a constant need to ask questions and learn more information. Before we can seek to change anything, we must understand what it is and how it works. This spirit of inquisitiveness is first formally taught to us all in science courses. As we learn physical science, biology, chemistry, physics, and more, we not only better understand the world, but how to research and advance our knowledge of any subject. As a chemical engineer, science has shaped every step of my career. For more than 48 years, I have worked in applied research and development. During this period, I have been a co-author of three patents and seen major advancements in all areas of science and technology. Even now “in retirement” I am able to serve as a senior technical consultant to the National Nuclear Security Administration and work on some of our country’s most important future needs in an evolving environment. Science offers our students a valuable and rewarding lifelong career.

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