TDOE Opens Applications for Innovative School Models Grant

Thursday, August 04, 2022 | 01:00pm


Celebratory Month Highlighted Implementation of State Investment,
New Computer Science Requirements

Nashville, TN – Today, the Tennessee Department of Education announced applications are open for districts that submitted intents to apply for the $500 million Innovative School Models Grant, which will reimagine opportunities for career readiness and student success statewide.  

Throughout the month of July, the department celebrated Innovative School Models month, with releasing the intent to apply and application for the $500 million Innovative School Models Grants, thanks to the historic investment by Governor Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly to bring Innovative School Models to every public middle and high school in the state. Additionally, the department highlighted the new computer science requirements for districts and schools and announced the $2.9 million Perkins Reserve Grant awards. 

“Through reimagining the middle or high school experience, students will have a variety of opportunities to gain real-world experience, explore various industries and available jobs, and choose a pathway best suited to their skillset,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “I thank Governor Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly who passed this historic opportunity, all districts interested in applying for this funding, and those who helped us celebrate throughout the month.” 

In alignment with the Innovative School Models initiative, the passage of Chapter 979 of the Public Acts of 2022 by a unanimous vote of the Tennessee General Assembly requires all Tennessee school districts to implement new computer science requirements to ensure all students are fully prepared for the jobs of today and tomorrow.

The new computer science requirements include providing professional development for teachers to successfully implement computer science instruction, all elementary schools must provide each student with a grade-appropriate computer, all middle schools must provide students access to computer science instruction for a minimum of at least one grading period of one school year, and all high schools must provide all students who pursue a traditional diploma with at least one course credit of computer science education. Subject to state board of education approval, computer science credits will count as either a 3rd-year science or 4th-year math. An overall summary of the computer science legislation is available here and FAQs are available here.

“I am proud to have sponsored legislation that prioritizes computer science education throughout our public schools,” said Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson. “Making sure our future leaders are prepared and engaged for the jobs of tomorrow is of the utmost importance. By focusing on high-quality computer science education that connects to each student’s interests and strengths, we will ensure our students can succeed in their future studies and careers.” 

“I’m proud to see the emphasis our state is putting on preparing our students for today’s incredible job opportunities,” said House Education K-12 Subcommittee Chairman Kirk Haston. “The forthcoming course offerings and rigorous standards, along with multiple professional development opportunities will directly connect our students to the workforce.”

“The computer science related courses taught at both Campbell County High Schools prepare our students to be successful in a competitive, ever-changing workplace,” said Jennifer Fields, Director of Schools, Campbell County Schools. “Based on the number of unfilled computer science related jobs and the fast rate of job growth in this area, the computer science related classes taught at our high schools will better prepare our students for high-demand, high-wage, and high-skilled future jobs.”

“JMCSS eagerly accepts the state's challenge to reimagine education, adding CTE Innovation Impact Institutes which focus on forward-thinking, authentic learning experiences in 14 of the 16 TDOE Career Clusters to ensure that we prepare our students for Tennessee’s workforce growth,” said Dr. Marlon King, Director of Schools, Jackson-Madison County Schools.

Additionally, during July, the department announced the $2.9 million Perkins Reserve Grant (PRG) awards to 44 school districts to support career and technical education (CTE) across the state. The districts awarded these funds will use them for an array of opportunities for students to gain experience in nontraditional fields. Applicants sought funding to provide drones technology, culinary arts equipment, and STEM makerspace for project-based opportunities. 

Further, the department highlighted several exemplary Innovative School Models across the state for their impactful use of grant funds from the initial $30 million investment in Innovative High School Models awarded in May 2021. These partnerships have already shown an incredible impact on students’ experiences and readiness for the workforce and postsecondary opportunities. 

For more information on Innovative School Models, click here.

For Tennessee Department of Education media inquiries, contact