Skip to Main Content

Tennessee Department of Education Releases Playbook for Leaders to Support Equitable Outcomes for Students

Friday, May 18, 2018 | 09:19am

NASHVILLE— Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Candice McQueen today released a new resource to support school, district, and community leaders who are committed to providing and sustaining equitable outcomes for all students. The Tennessee Leaders for Equity Playbook serves as a flexible support tool that outlines seven equity commitments to help leaders make significant shifts in mindset and practice that will benefit all students.

This resource was developed by the Tennessee ESSA Leadership Learning Community (ELLC) team as part of its participation in this joint initiative of the Council of Chief State School Officers, the Council of the Great City Schools, the National Urban League, and The Wallace Foundation. This playbook was the culmination of an 18-month project of the Tennessee ELLC team that was developed with substantial feedback received from a comprehensive set of stakeholder groups. It is a resource designed to build the capacity of education leaders to implement supports and interventions to turn around schools most in need of improvement.

“We recognize the importance of focusing on equitable outcomes for all students - and we know leaders set this vision - and this belief is reflected in the department’s strategic plan, Tennessee Succeeds, and our ESSA state plan,” McQueen said. “The Tennessee Leaders for Equity Playbook is a tool to help school, district, and community leaders find their voice so they can systematically talk about and design equitable solutions for all their student needs.”

A leader for equity works to eliminate opportunity and achievement gaps and ensure success for all students by identifying and addressing personal and institutional bias and barriers. If school, district, and community leaders believe in and take action to create equitable outcomes for all students, then all districts and schools will experience significant, positive shifts for students related including a decrease chronic absenteeism, increase early postsecondary opportunities, recruit and retain a diverse teaching force, and reduce disproportionate suspension and expulsion rates.

This playbook is designed to support school, district, and community leaders to become leaders for equity by providing:
•    An action plan framework to assist leaders in the selection, implementation, and monitoring of the most relevant equity commitments for their community,
•    An equity shifts continuum describing the common misconceptions that must be examined and discussed for each equity commitment before moving to an equity mindset, and
•    Key actions and resources that can be taken and used by school, district, school board, and community leaders for each of the seven equity commitments.

The playbook is a tool for leaders that should be used to address existing challenges and utilize current resources with decisions always informed by school, district, and community data. Committing to an equity mindset requires important conversations about common misconceptions before taking action toward creating equitable outcomes for all students.

The Tennessee Leaders for Equity Playbook was developed by the Tennessee ESSA Leadership Learning Community working group, comprised of:
•    Phyllis Nichols, President/CEO, Knoxville Area Urban League
•    LeTrecia Gloster, Executive Director of School Support and Improvement, Metro Nashville Public Schools
•    Sito Narcisse, Chief of Schools, Metro Nashville Public Schools
•    Sonia Stewart, Principal, Metro Nashville Public Schools
•    Myke Collins, Director of Strategic Leadership Development, Shelby County Schools
•    Tonye Smith-McBride, Director, School Improvement and Accountability, Shelby County Schools
•    Samantha Gutter, Education Policy Advisor, Tennessee Office of Governor Bill Haslam
•    Gini Pupo-Walker, Senior Director of Education Policy and Programs, Tennessee Education Equity Coalition
•    Tammy Grissom, Executive Director, Tennessee School Boards Association
•    Jim McIntyre, Director, Center for Educational Leadership, University of Tennessee
•    John “Bobby” Cox, Director of Schools, Warren County Schools

The full playbook released today is available on the department’s website. For more information about leaders for equity, please contact Paul Fleming assistant commissioner of teachers and leaders, at For media inquiries contact Sara Gast, director of communications, at or call (615) 532-6260.

Related Links