State Board of Education Passes Emergency Rules to Address Ongoing School Closures

Tuesday, April 14, 2020 | 01:43pm


CONTACT: Elizabeth Tullos

Last week, the State Board of Education convened for a special called electronic meeting to enact emergency rules governing graduation requirements for Tennessee’s high school seniors and other necessary rule changes in response to the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis.  Pursuant to Public Chapter 652 of 2020, the State Board of Education was tasked by the General Assembly with approving emergency rules to address the special circumstances created by the statewide closure of schools.

These rules were developed by State Board staff in close consultation with the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE). Feedback was solicited from numerous stakeholder organizations including the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents, the Tennessee School Boards Association, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, and other valued partners. The emergency rules made the following changes:

Rule 0520-01-02-.17 Administrative Rules and Regulations, State Attendance Guidelines: This rule clarifies that districts may take attendance during distance learning but may not issue unexcused absences or report truancy for failure to participate in distance learning activities during school closures due to the ongoing health crisis.

Rule 0520-01-03-.11 Minimum Rules and Requirements for the Approval of Public Schools: This rule establishes the process for local education agencies to seek the approval of waivers from the commissioner of the TDOE and the State Board of Education. Additionally, this rule includes amended graduation requirements for students scheduled to graduate during the 2019-20 school year, grading considerations for students taking high school credit courses, the suspension of spring TCAP testing during the 2019-20 school year, and revised accountability requirements.

Rule 0520-02-04-.11 Educator Preparation: This adds a new section to the State Board of Education’s Educator Preparation rule, addressing modified requirements for teacher candidates who were unable to complete their clinical placement due to COVID-19 associated closures.

Rule 0520-02-03-.09 Educator Licensure: Denial, Formal Reprimand, Suspension and Revocation: Amends the State Board’s educator licensure discipline rule to allow directors of schools to request an extension of the 30 day reporting period if the director is unable to submit a timely report due to school closures as a result of COVID-19.

Rule 0520-02-03-.15 Educator Licensure: Denial, Formal Reprimand, Suspension and Revocation: Amends the Educator Licensure rule to allow prospective educators who were unable to complete their required exams due to COVID-19 to receive a provisional practitioner license with the requirement that scores on licensure exams be submitted by August 31, 2021. This rule also allows educators whose practitioner license is set to expire in August 2020 to have the license validity period extended by one year to allow the educator time to complete the requirements for renewal or advancement. There are also changes to 0520-02-03-.03 and -.10 to streamline pathways for out-of-state educators and school leaders to obtain licensure in Tennessee.

Rule 0520-02-01-.01 Evaluations, General Requirements for Evaluation: This rule amends the Evaluations rule to clarify that Level of Overall Effectiveness (LOE) scores will not be generated for the 2019-20 school year. Additionally, this rule clarifies that observations not completed in the 2019-20 school year will not be required.

Rule 0520-01-09-.24 Special Education Programs and Services: Amends the State Board’s special education rule to extend the time period by which a school must complete a student’s initial evaluation to 90 days after receipt of parental consent. This extension is authorized by 34 C.F.R. § 300.301(c).

Rule 0520-01-11-.07 Individualized Education Accounts, Monitoring and Compliance: Amends the Individualized Education Accounts (IEA) rule to waive the requirement that students participating in the program take a nationally norm-referenced test or the TCAP test if such a test was scheduled to occur in the spring of the 2019-20 school year.

Rule 0520-07-02-.09 Non-Public School Approval Process: This amends the Non-Public School Approval Process rule to clarify that approved Category I and Category II private schools are not required to take the TCAP or a nationally standardized achievement test if the test was scheduled to occur in the spring semester of the 2019-20 school year. This rule also clarifies that the 180 instructional day requirement is also waived for Category I and Category II private schools; any approved private school that is required to meet the same graduation requirements as public schools is also subject to the amended graduation requirements for 2019-20 school year graduates.

Additional information, including copies of the emergency rules passed during the special called meeting, are available on the State Board website at 

The Tennessee State Board of Education is a ten-member, governor-appointed and legislatively confirmed board charged under the law with rulemaking and policymaking for K-12 education. Through a close partnership with the Tennessee Department of Education, the Board maintains oversight in K-12 implementation and academic standards.