From The Press

Tristar Reads Spring Edition: April 3

Tristar Reads, our annual summer reading program, doesn’t begin until May, but as most students are at home in this season, we want to offer various resources and activities for parents and kids to stay engaged in reading and learning. Dive into the many different ways your child can learn in this season and join us for a few fun challenges along the way.

Sign up for Tristar Reads 2020 here.


Resources for Students at Home

During these uncertain times, we want to be a resource for parents and students as we navigate together what learning from home looks like and the various resources that are available for families. Each week, we’ll feature our top 5 learning links to help guide learning and fun in your home. 

Top 5 learning links of the week:

ReadyRosie 

Ready Rosie is an early education tool that helps families, schools, and communities using short videos, fun activities, and online resources for free for Tennessee families from April 1 – September 1. The Tennessee Department of Education and the Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation (GELF) announced this partnership this week. These instructional materials will assist families at home and promote learning and bonding.  Sign up here

Before You Get in Too Deep

Resources for Learning at Home When Schools Close by TNTP

Before you get in too deep on every homeschooling link that’s out there, take a look at these guiding principles so you don’t feel completely underwater. 

Khan Academy

Khan Academy is a great resource for personalized learning so that students can master subject areas and learn at their own pace. Their resources range from preschool to Advanced Placement course content and beyond. Gain access here

STEM: Amazon Future Engineers

Check out Amazon’s growing list of free computer science resources from coding to robotics classes. These courses range from 2nd to 12th grade and everything in between. Learn more here

GoNoodle

GoNoodle is an excellent resource for kids to get out their energy by dancing and moving in a fun and interactive way indoors. They offer a variety of abilities, interests, ages, and subjects. Get moving here


COVID-19 Update

As our schools, economy, jobless claims numbers, and life in general moves at a rapidly different pace than one month ago, TSS is keeping our finger on the pulse of education-related COVID-19 changes and want to keep you as up-to-date as possible. 

Effective yesterday, April 2, Governor Bill Lee issued Executive Order 23 which requires Tennesseans to stay at home unless they are carrying out essential activities. This order is in effect until April 14, 2020. 

Currently, Tennessee public schools are closed until April 24th. 

To receive further guidance from the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE), click here. Additionally, the Tennessee State Government has just released a public survey for the CARES Act, which provides one-time relief funds for education. This survey seeks input from Tennesseans on the most effective ways to prioritize these funds. Please take advantage of this opportunity to use your voice and fill out the survey here.


Need Internet Access? Here’s how internet providers are helping.

  • Altice USA is providing free internet access for families with K-12 and/or college students who have been displaced because of school closures and do not have internet access. This trial is currently free for 60 days.
  • Comcast is offering 60 days of free internet access for anyone who needs access and confirms their commitment to assisting low-income families.
  • Spectrum will offer free broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription and at any service level up to 100 Mbps.

School Meal Finder

The Tennessee Department of Education partnered with Hoonuit to help Tennessee families find the closest meal pick up program available to them. By utilizing an interactive, online map, families are able to access 2 meals per day, 5 days a week while schools remain closed. Learn about a meal pick-up site near you by going to www.schoolmealfinder.hoonuit.com.

Get more information on nutrition-related program updates from the Department of Education and any other COVID-19 related questions you may have here


Tristar Reads is designed to encourage students K-12 to read at least 20 minutes a day during the summer months. The program runs from May 1 – September 1, 2020, and will award the reader who log the most amount of minutes in elementary, middle, and high school with a $1,000 scholarship! 
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…

TSS Policy Priorities: Why Economic Opportunity Matters

NASHVILLE – Tennesseans for Student Success began the 2020 legislative session by outlining our policy pillars and how they affect student success. This is the last installment of our #TSSPolicyPriorities campaign. If you missed any, catch up on our legislative policies here.

Why Economic Opportunity Matters: 

Earning a high school diploma is a remarkable achievement, but it should not represent the end of a journey. As our local economies continue to evolve, it is increasingly important to improve alignment among student instruction, teacher preparation, and the various opportunities for students to achieve economic independence after high school.

To honor our promise to provide today’s students with an opportunity for success in the future, we must ensure all Tennesseans are prepared for, can access, and complete a post-secondary credential or degree. Today, more than ever, Tennessee’s students have an opportunity to transition from high school to college or career seamlessly, and we are passionate about supporting various pathways and seeing the transition be as smooth as possible.

—-

Below is an excerpt from Dan Caldwell:

National Skills Coalition has done some research and they tell us that 53% of the nation’s jobs require middle skills. Now those middle skills are something beyond high school but less than a four-year degree. So 53% of the nation’s jobs require it, but only 43% of Americans have those skills, so there’s quite a gap. Nissan recognizes that gap and we have partnered with Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) here in Smyrna, Tennessee, in a public, private partnership. We are co-located under one roof whereas, the TCAT trains anyone from the community in five different programs of study. And on the Nissan-side, my training staff, we continue to upskill and develop our own employees who come to us at various times in their career to brush up on robotics, engineering, leadership, Microsoft Office, any kind of training that they need to be successful in their roles. On the TCAT side… all of the programs of study lead to a high-demand, high-wage industries.”

Click here to watch Dan Caldwell talk about the opportunity students have to gain skills and pursue economic independence, specifically through the partnership between Nissan and TCAT Smyrna.

Please click here to take our Issue Survey to share your thoughts on economic opportunity and other policy areas affecting students in our state.

To continue the conversation on social media, use the hashtag #TSSPriorities.

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…