Category: Inside TNSuccess

Inside TNSuccess: March 23

TN Legislative Corner

With the acceleration of the coronavirus, individuals, businesses, and the TN legislature have taken unprecedented measures over the past week to promote safety and the multi-faceted needs of our community first.

Beginning last night at midnight, Mayor John Cooper, Nashville, announced a “Safer at Home” public health order, which requires Davidson County residents to stay in their homes unless they are engaged in “essential activities” and closes non-essential businesses for 14 days.

Last week, the Tennessee General Assembly met to work through committees and floor sessions and pass an appropriations bill before they recessed on Thursday. As part of the legislature’s sweeping measures, the General Assembly, in consultation with the Tennessee Department of Education, has passed legislation to suspend TNReady testing and waive the 180 days of instruction requirement for the 2019 – 2020 school year. Additional measures were waived and can be found here. These steps are in response to the outbreak of COVID-19 and the tragic March 3rd tornadoes in middle Tennessee to ensure no students, teachers, and schools are adversely impacted by school closures, student absenteeism, and other hardships under these devastating circumstances.

Additionally, the Tennessee General Assembly has plans to reconvene in June and passed a modified, no-growth budget that continues the operations of our government and legislation passed last year. The priority is the success of our students, and we are proud of the hard work legislators and Governor Lee are doing to ensure the safety and needs of TN kids are met. 

Last week, the governor urged all schools to close as soon as possible with a deadline of Friday, March 20. Additionally, the TN Department of Education launched a School Meal Finder for families to find free meal distribution sites in their community. If you have nutrition-specific questions, please reach out to the TDOE COVID-19 hotline at 800-354-3663. 

The TN Department of Education released a school closure toolkit for parents, teachers, and staff. Take a look at it here.

As conversations continue over the coming weeks and months, we plan to keep you in the loop with the latest news and updates. 


Contact Your Legislator Re: COVID-19

At TSS, we advocate for students and encourage Tennesseans to use their voice for TN’s kids. Amid COVID-19, we are doing what we can to connect people with their elected officials, improve communications, and help solve problems. Please fill out this form to send an email to your legislator regarding issues your school, students, or community are experiencing because of COVID-19


Tristar Reads 2020

With summer on the horizon and Tennessee students at home for the time being, we want to offer parents and students various resources that will be helpful for at-home learning and fun. Sign up here to receive these emails and you’ll be the first to know when our Tristar Reads program kicks off this May!

Tristar Reads is our annual contest designed to encourage children across the Volunteer State to read for at least 20 minutes a day during the summer break. The program runs from May 1, 2020 through September 7, 2020 and is open to all Tennessee students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Three $1,000 scholarships will be awarded to the students who read and log the most hours over the course of the summer.

You don’t want to miss out!


Celebrating an Outstanding School Counselor

Last month, we celebrated National School Counselor Week by inviting educators and staff to nominate an Outstanding School Counselor to recognize and honor the impact these individuals make in our schools.

Leah Burnett, from Baxter Primary School in the Putnam County Schools (TN) School System, was overwhelmingly nominated by her colleagues for all she does for their students. Here are a few of the responses we received from them:

“This is her first year at our school and she has gone above and beyond for the students and families at BPS. Her love and compassion for these kids are remarkable. She truly wants what’s best for not only the students but the parents or guardians as well.”

“… She has a great personality and is so easy to get along with! Very thankful to have a hard-working and caring counselor at our school!”

“She goes above and beyond every day to help our students get what they need emotionally, mentally, and physically.”

“… She has the students’ best interest at heart, and it shows.”

Congratulations, Ms. Burnett!


Apply for the Complete TN Leadership Institute TODAY

The Complete Tennessee Leadership Institute, which is sponsored by the State Collaborative on Education Reform, or SCORE and The Hunt Institute, is an opportunity for leaders across the state to collaborate and champion innovation in higher education institutions. Tennessee’s students deserve equitable access to post-secondary opportunities and every resource possible for completion. Through this program, you will help pave the way for all Tennessee students to succeed. 

Nominate someone you know or yourself now through April 17, 2020 here.


Calendar of Events   

The Tennessee General Assembly recessed last Thursday until June 1, 2020. Stay on top of the Tennessee General Assembly’s schedule here.


In Case You Missed It…

Inside TNSuccess: March 9

TN Legislative Corner

Last week’s tragic tornadoes affected committee activity in the Tennessee General Assembly. Please continue to pray and help where you are able as individuals and families across Middle Tennessee are dealing with the aftermath. Interested in volunteering to help with tornado relief? Here are a few ways to get involved.

This is a busy season in the legislature as final calendars are getting set, and any legislation that will be considered in the 2019-2020 session will be heard over the next few weeks.  

Last week, HB 2229, Governor Lee’s literacy initiative, continued to be discussed in CTI Subcommittee. This bill will provide students with the necessary instruction to develop foundational literacy skills that meet Tennessee’s academic standards and developmental expectations. During the CTI Subcommittee hearing last Tuesday, several school and district leaders from across the state who have successfully implemented phonics-based literacy methods and supported teachers with high-quality instructional materials, spoke on the improvements they’ve seen in students ELA scores, in some cases double-digit growth. These education leaders are a part of a statewide network that utilizes innovative practices to improve literacy rates in Tennessee called LIFT Education

Chris Satterfield, the Director of Schools for Trousdale County, kicked off testimonies by stating, “Our teachers have seen the results of using high-quality curriculum and materials grounded in the science of reading and the difference that it makes for kids… If we can do this work in little Trousdale county, I bet it can be replicated across the state of Tennessee, and I believe it can be done efficiently as well.”

This bill will be heard again in CTI Subcommittee, as well as the Senate Education Committee this week. Please send an email to your legislators urging them to support this bill and Governor Lee’s historic investment in early literacy!

Watch the CTI subcommittee here for more testimonies. 

Track progress on other education bills last week here.

For a complete list of education legislation filed by the 111th 2019-2020 General Assembly, click here.


Ongoing Statewide Education Polling on Accountability

Since 2017, Tennesseans for Student Success has talked with more than 150,000 individual Tennesseans as part of its ongoing voter outreach and advocacy to support the policies that are improving public education for the state’s one million students.

Not only must Tennessee’s elected officials keep their foot on the pedal to improve student outcomes, but they must also commit to protecting policies essential to student success, like transparency and accountability.

Our multi-year polling project reinforces what we already know to be true: Accountability is widely supported on all sides and should continue to be strengthened. Our polling data clearly shows that Tennesseans support strong school accountability measures, as well as the A-F letter grade rating system.

Transparency is critical to ensure all students have an opportunity for success. Email your legislators today to oppose removing transparency to our schools and student success. 


Nominate a Middle-Level Education Teacher!

March is Middle Level Education Month! Middle school teachers, administrators, and staff play a special role during a crucial part of student’s lives. We want to celebrate the impact, and unique contribution Middle School teachers, administrators, and staff have on the success of our students as they prepare for college, career, and life. 

Please take a moment to make a nomination and let us know how they have made an impact in your school community


Tennessee Education Leaders Summer Fellowship

The Tennessee Department of Education is inviting current or incoming teachers in Tennessee to apply for their 8-week summer fellowship program. According to the TDOE, these fellows will have the opportunity to engage with the department’s Best for All strategic plan, build relationships with key leaders, participate in professional development opportunities, and receive a $10,000 stipend. 

Applications are due by March 16, 2020. Learn more and apply here


Calendar of Events   

March 9th2:00PM: House Government Operations Committee

     4:30PM: Senate Floor Session

March 10th 10:30AM: House Higher Education Subcommittee

       12:00PM: House Curriculum, Testing, & Innovation Committee

4:30PM: House K-12 Subcommittee 

March 11th9:00AM: House Education Committee

12:30PM: Senate Education Committee


In Case You Missed It…

Inside TNSuccess: March 2

TN Legislative Corner

This week was a busy one at the Capitol, with many bills being brought up in the House and Senate Education committees.

In particular, the Tennessee General Assembly and Governor Lee partnered to introduce a key bill that will help meet an urgent need to tackle the literacy crisis in our state. According to the TDOE in 2018, only 32.8 percent of students across grade levels met expectations in English Language Arts (ELA). That’s why it’s imperative that we address this issue head-on with comprehensive legislation that provides students with the necessary instruction and high-quality material to improve student success.

HB 2229/SB 2160 is a key piece of legislation that will help bridge the gap in students learning of reading. It is currently in CTI Subcommittee. Please send an email to your legislators urging them to support this bill and Governor Lee’s historic investment in early literacy!

Track progress on other education bills last week here.

For a complete list of education legislation filed by the 111th 2019-2020 General Assembly, click here.


#TSSPriorities on Innovation in Education

Every student in Tennessee, no matter their zip code, deserves to learn in a top-notch Tennessee public school that meets their individual needs and prepares them for their future.

When educators and leaders are free to provide educational opportunities that meet the needs of their students and their region of the state, the results can be extraordinary. We should welcome innovation in Tennessee public schools, especially when it helps students.

Watch Ms. Brittany Middlebrooks, an assistant principal from KIPP Academy Nashville, as she shares with us the innovative and student-centered approach their school takes within their math curriculum.


#CTEMonth with Dan Caldwell

It’s critical that communities work together to assist students who are pursuing a degree or certificate, step into the career or job that will help them thrive.

Career and technical education is important because it allows students to pursue an area of expertise that may not be found in a conventional general education classroom.

While exploring the incredible partnerships our state has to offer, TSS came across a remarkable collaboration between Nissan Group of North America and TCAT Smyrna.

Read our blog and watch Dan Caldwell, Senior Manager of Learning Pathways at Nissan, as he talks about one of the numerous ways their organization partners with the community to create additional possibilities for teachers and students.


Calendar of Events

March 2nd – Read Across America Day

      4:30PM: Senate Floor Session

 5:00PM: House Floor Session

March 3rd10:30AM: House Higher Education Subcommittee

     12:00PM: House Curriculum, Testing, & Innovation Committee

4:30PM: House K-12 Subcommittee 

March 4th – 9:00AM: House Education Committee3:00PM: Senate Education Committee


In Case You Missed It…

Inside TNSuccess: February 24

TN Legislative Corner

The House Curriculum, Testing, & Innovation Subcommittee (CTI) amended HB 1687/SB 1735, which proposed to eliminate academic standards for science and social studies in kindergarten through grade two. After concerns were expressed about the legislation as introduced, the State Board of Education helped to clarify the difference between standards and curriculum and provided historical context for this conversation.

The amended language, offered by Speaker Pro Tem Dunn, maintains current K-2 standards and empowers Local Education Agencies (LEAs) to develop and implement instructional programs that promote individual teacher creativity and autonomy, and incorporate science and social studies concepts into the English Language Arts instruction. TSS appreciates Rep. Cepicky and committee members for taking the time to review feedback and doing the hard work necessary to find solutions that put students first.

The committee process is a great opportunity to use your voice to influence state policy that impacts students. Please take a moment to email members of the Education CTI subcommittee thanking them for prioritizing a student-based agenda that continuously improves all aspects of public education.

Track progress on other education bills last week here.

For a complete list of education legislation filed by the 111th 2019-2020 General Assembly, click here.


#CTEMonth and How TN Students are Impacted

This week’s blog on CTE month comes from our Policy and Outreach Manager, Jessica Whitmill. Jessica recounts her travels through the state and how different districts and schools are preparing students for college and career through hands-on learning and technical education. She talks about several different schools and the teachers that are making sizeable impacts on students across the state. 

Read our latest blog here


ICYMI: State Board of Education Releases Preparation Report Card

Recently, the Tennessee State Board of Education released its Education Preparation Report Card, which is a useful tool to find information on educator preparation programs in the state to ensure every student has a well-prepared teacher. Additionally, it’s helpful for teachers to have guidance on the teacher prep programs they could apply to around the state. 

Click here to see how well TN prep programs performed.


Speaking of educator prep programs, a group of students from Freed-Hardeman University’s Teacher Education Program joined us for our Day on the Hill this month. These students engaged with different legislators on education issues, the legislative process, and how legislators got to where they are today. Check out a few photos from their visit below. 

Calendar of Events

February 25th10:30AM: House Higher Education Subcommittee

      12:00PM: House Curriculum, Testing, & Innovation Committee

      4:30PM: House K-12 Subcommittee 

February 26th – 9:00AM: House Education Committee

 2:30PM: Senate Education Committee

February 27th – Digital Learning Day


In Case You Missed It…