• Here's how we can ensure K12 and higher education rise to meet employers' needs

    Thursday, August 31, 2023 | 12:50pm

    Tennessee is home to some of the country’s most successful businesses and largest corporations, yet employers often tell us that too many graduates from our local schools and higher education institutions do not possess the durable skills like critical thinking and teamwork or the in-demand, technical skills needed to acquire and retain viable, lucrative jobs. In fact, a Boyd Center survey of Tennessee business leaders revealed that nearly seven out of 10 leaders believed there are not enough appropriately trained workers in today’s job market. Further, more than 40% of these executives believe that stronger education and training are needed to expand the supply of future workers who are prepared for jobs with the most in-demand skills. Fortunately, many employers, parents, state leaders, and policymakers are working to align their efforts to provide students with solid foundations for successful futures. Tennessee employers are taking big steps to partner with K-12 and higher education to prepare today's students to meet their talent needs. Across K-12 and higher education, several of these innovative, industry-led models are surfacing to meet both student interest and workforce needs and many of the most innovative models in the country are right here in Tennessee. There are currently 11 Robertson County students enrolled in a dual enrollment program through the Tennessee College of Applied Technology. Models include middle college programs where students earn an associate degree at the same time as they earn their high school diploma; Advanced Placement (AP) and dual enrollment classes that prepare students for traditional post-secondary degree programs; and other partnership programs where students earn industry credentials. For example, Chattanooga’s Construction Career Center in Hamilton County Schools provides 11th- and 12th-grade students with coursework that enables them to earn at least five certifications in construction while still in high school. Students attend high school in the morning or afternoon and are provided transportation to the center for the other half of the school day. Similarly, high school seniors attending Jackson-Madison County Schools can participate in the Local Options & Opportunities Program (LOOP). LOOP allows students to earn high school credit for completing a paid work-based learning opportunity. Industry placements include working on-site at some of Madison County’s largest employers, such as West Tennessee Healthcare and Jackson Energy Authority. We know urban, suburban, and rural communities in Tennessee may have different needs. In rural Hardeman County, local employers may need to fill positions in areas such as crop and animal production, while in Davidson County, the health care industry is Nashville's largest employer, contributing to 167,916 direct jobs annually. We must ensure students, educators, and employers have the flexibility and support needed to make sure the unique needs of each of our communities are met. There are many great reasons why our state has become a magnet for business and attracted so many new residents. But as Tennessee’s dynamic economy continues to grow, it’s critical that K-12 and higher education rise to meet employer needs by providing greater skills-based, workforce-relevant learning opportunities to students throughout our state. In September, the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE), will bring together business and education leaders from across the state for the Future Forward Summit to explore ways in which industry and education can partner to improve better educational and workforce outcomes for students and employers. We hope that real ideas and solutions can be brought to the table to help more employers partner with local educators to ensure all Tennessee students receive credentials of value in high school and higher education so they can be better prepared for Tennessee’s rapidly expanding job market. For over a decade, Tennessee has led the way in educational innovations. Now it’s time to zero in on the needs of our future workforce by aligning education with clear career pathways. We are confident that with key business stakeholders working together with state leaders and local educators, Tennessee’s students will not only receive a high-quality education, but also the skills and experiences they need for a lifetime of career success.

    Read full story
  • Governor Appoints Local Student to Tennessee State Board of Education

    Wednesday, August 30, 2023 | 09:30am

    Governor Bill Lee has appointed Laurel Cox, a senior at Cascade High School in Bedford County Schools, to the Tennessee State Board of Education. As a student representative, Ms. Cox will join the board effective immediately and will serve at the November 3, 2023 quarterly meeting. She will carry out her role through August 3, 2024. “We are delighted to have Laurel serve as our State Board student member,” said Dr. Sara Morrison, executive director of the State Board of Education. “Her insight and perspective will ground our conversations as we discuss policies and rules that impact Tennessee’s students.” Ms. Cox is passionate about pursuing education in agriculture and is actively involved in the National FFA Organization. She recently served as the 2022-2023 Middle Tennessee FFA Regional President as a junior, working closely with Tennessee’s agriculture leaders. She has held various leadership positions within Cascade FFA, working to promote careers in Tennessee’s extensive agriculture industry. This past summer, Ms. Cox attended the Tennessee Governor’s School for Agricultural Sciences, studying agribusiness and veterinary science under industry professionals.

    Read full story
  • Governor Appoints Local Teacher to Tennessee State Board of Education

    Wednesday, July 05, 2023 | 09:40am

    (NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — Governor Bill Lee has appointed Krissi McInturff, a sixth-grade teacher at Indian Middle School in Johnson City Schools to the Tennessee State Board of Education. As a representative for Tennessee’s first Congressional District, Mrs. McInturff will join the board at the August quarterly meeting and will serve on the State Board of Education through March 31, 2028. As a Tennessee public school teacher for 15 years, she has served in many leadership roles, including as one of Washington County’s TNCORE Learning Leaders, chairing various school committees, and being named the 2015 Washington County Teacher of the Year. “We are delighted to welcome Mrs. McInturff as our newest member of the state board. As a current TN teacher and education leader, she will bring an important perspective to state-level policy discussions,” said Dr. Sara Morrison, executive director of the State Board of Education. The Tennessee State Board of Education is composed of 11 members representing the diversity of the state – one from each congressional district, plus a student member, and the executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission who serves as non-voting ex officio member. Board members are unpaid Governor’s appointments, confirmed by the legislature and selected based on a passion for service to the people of Tennessee and the education of Tennessee’s children. ###

    Read full story
  • State Board of Education Seeks Public Feedback to Advance Tennessee’s Social Studies Education Standards

    Monday, February 27, 2023 | 01:40pm

    (NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — The Tennessee State Board of Education launched its second survey to collect public feedback on the state’s newly revised K-12 social studies academic standards earlier today, requesting public feedback through March 26, 2023. The K-12 social studies 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. Tennessee’s Academic Standards for social studies include not only key facts and information about social studies, but also concept strands like culture, economics, geography, history, politics/government, and Tennessee history. Social studies practices such as collecting data from primary and secondary sources and constructing arguments by citing supporting evidence are integrated into how the standards are delivered to students.

    Read full story
  • State Board Releases 2022 Charter School Authorizer Evaluation Outcomes

    Tuesday, February 21, 2023 | 12:00am

    NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — During its February quarterly meeting last week, the State Board of Education released the outcomes for the 2022 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 and was the fourth state to adopt an authorizer evaluation process.

    Read full story
  • State Board of Education Elects New Officers

    Tuesday, February 21, 2023 | 12:00am

    (Nashville, TN) The State Board of Education conducted its election of new officers at the Board’s quarterly meeting held February 10 in Nashville. Mr. Robert Eby, representing the third congressional district, was elected Chairman. Eby was appointed to the State Board of Education in 2018 by Governor Bill Haslam and served two terms as vice-chairman. He served 16 years on the Oak Ridge Board of Education. Eby is a graduate of the University of Tennessee with degrees in Chemical Engineering. He previously served as the Plant Manager at the 4,000-person Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant, as well as serving as the Executive Vice-President of Navarro Research and Engineering Company. Eby is also currently a board member for the KFI, a local organization dedicated to supporting the Ronald McDonald House of Knoxville, and is on the Global Community Fellowship Board, a missionary Board to support Mayan people.

    Read full story
  • Seventh Annual Educator Preparation Report Card Shows Continued Improvements Across High-Demand Endorsements

    Thursday, February 16, 2023 | 12:00am

    On Wednesday, the State Board of Education Released its seventh annual Educator Preparation Report Card, a tool that evaluates educator preparation providers (EPPs) in Tennessee, indicating steady improvements in the state’s key priority metrics like high-demand endorsements and teacher retention. 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. “We are proud of the collaborative engagement that has helped inform improvements to the Report Card over the last seven years,” said Dr. Sara Morrison, executive director of the State Board of Education. “Through feedback from EPPs, districts, legislators, and the work of the Report Card Advisory Council, the Report Card has become a user-friendly tool for prospective candidates, school districts, and EPPs to support understanding of both the design and performance of licensure programs across the state.”

    Read full story
  • 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.

    Read full story
  • 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.

    Read full story
  • 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.

    Read full story
  • 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.

    Read full story
  • 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.

    Read full story
  • 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.

    Read full story