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How Businesses Are Partnering with Schools to Create Opportunities

It’s critical that communities work together to help students who are pursuing a degree or certificate, step into the career or job that will help students and local communities thrive. Career and technical education is critical because it allows students to pursue an area of expertise that isn’t usually 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. Dan Caldwell, Senior Manager of Learning Pathways at Nissan, leads a manufacturing training group for three U.S. manufacturing plants, and his team serves a population of 17,000 employees in their professional and personal growth.

One of the programs Nissan touts was birthed through a partnership with the Rutherford Chamber of Commerce and is an externship for K-12 teachers. Nissan brings teachers onsite to work alongside their employees, so teachers understand first-hand the skills and competencies Nissan requires, as well as the opportunities they offer. These teachers gain a clearer understanding of what happens in the manufacturing plant and the numerous job opportunities that are available for their students.

Watch below as Mr. Caldwell shares about a career awareness event Nissan sponsored with Smyrna Middle School and the opportunity each middle school student had to learn about the innovative opportunities that are available in their own community.

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…

How Tennessee Schools Are Preparing Students for College and Career

By: Jessica Whitmill, Manager, Policy & Outreach

Tennessee is innovating in education.

I have the awesome opportunity as leading the outreach at Tennesseans for Student Success to visit schools across the state. During my travels, I’ve met hardworking teachers, seen progress and growth in-action, and experienced world-class programs.

World-class programs are peppered across our state in forms of career and technical education programs that are helping students build real-time skills for 21st-century jobs. These programs are helping students gain academic skills so they are better prepared for high school, college, career, and the future.

Cleveland High School in Bradley County is heavily invested in ensuring students are engaged with hands-on learning that is preparing them for their futures. Cleveland High School’s career and technical programs include Health Science where students get direct experience in their Raider Rescue, an ambulance simulator and health science training classrooms equipped with medical instruments that stimulate an actual hospital. Students also take flight in their Aviation Lab which allows them to use a Redbird FMX flight simulator, one of only two Tennessee high schools to have this tool for teaching. The flight simulator is used to provide students with a real-life feeling of flying in different weather conditions before they pilot an actual airplane. Cleveland’s STEM program was also highlighted during my tour, where community service and science are combined to create Project Malachi. This project was spearheaded by the robotics team and creates custom motorized wheelchairs for children with disabilities and has since expanded to be called the Malachi Movement. Learn more about this venture at themalachimovement.com.

In Nashville, at KIPP Academy, they are helping students succeed through their innovative math program. KIPP Academy is located in East Nashville where students are historically underserved. I had the opportunity to sit down with Brittany Middlebrooks, the Assistant Principal over math, to learn more about how they are assisting students who enter their middle school deficient in math and help them graduate on or above grade level. KIPP Nashville uses strategies like Opening Tasks, which are grade level tasks that allow students to think through their previous knowledge of math by making connections, build on their learning, and engage in higher-level thinking. Seeing this in real time was incredible. This program is helping students think differently about their learning and preparing them for their future college path or career.

Lastly, Coffee County Central High School boasts robust CTE programs of study fulfilling 15 out of the 16 state focus areas. Of the 15 focus areas, Coffee County Central HS offers 23 programs of study which speaks to the high caliber of diversity students have access to in their studies. As I spoke with Richard Skipper, CTE Director for Coffee County Schools, he shared a student success story about a specific student who turned a corner in his academic studies because of his co-op program. These types of stories are common as I talk with teachers and am able to hear first-hand about how Tennessee’s students’ lives are being changed because of the innovative opportunities and programs they have access to across the state.

Innovation is a key ingredient to Tennessee’s historic success in recent years. Programs like the comprehensive CTE courses at Cleveland High School, Coffee County Central High School, and the innovative math program at KIPP Academy, highlight that Tennessee schools are helping students succeed. As we look at education policies moving forward, we should strengthen and invest in opportunities for all students to have access to programs that help them prepare for their futures.

Inside TNSuccess: February 17

TN Legislative Corner

Last week, TSS held our third annual Day on the Hill, which was a rousing success. Around 65 advocates, students, parents, and teachers with diverse backgrounds were in attendance to advocate for the success of all students in the state of Tennessee. We’re grateful for every legislator and thought leader who was able to meet with us and share about the work they’re doing to improve our state. Read below to hear more about the event. 

The House Curriculum, Testing, & Innovation Subcommittee (CTI) heard testimonies from several teachers on HB 1687/SB 1735. This bill proposes to eliminate academic standards for science and social studies in kindergarten through grade two. These teachers weighed in and highlighted the importance of maintaining high standards and the current flexibility that exists to incorporate multiple standards into literacy instruction. The concerns expressed by committee members reinforce that we all agree on improving educational outcomes for students, particularly building a strong foundation in early literacy, is an urgent matter. We oppose this bill because eliminating will not solve this challenge. CTI ran out of time and will continue this important debate on Tuesday.

Please take a moment to email members of the CTI subcommittee about the importance of academic standards for early grades today.

Watch Mary Owen Holmes, a high school history teacher from Nashville, testify her opposition to this bill. Take a look at a screen recording of her opening remarks here

There was some movement on quite a few education bills last week and we expect the next several weeks to be busy with about a month left for committee work. Catch up on committee action on education bills here.

In other Tennessee news, the Tennessee General Assembly passed a bill to officially recognize Tennessee as the “Volunteer State!”  For a complete list of education legislation filed by the 111th 2019-2020 General Assembly, click here.


A Successful TSS Day on the Hill 

Our #TSSDayontheHill2020 was quite a success, and we want to thank every person that was involved! We were thrilled to bring educators, advocates, and students from around the state to visit the Tennessee State Capitol to talk with Tennessee lawmakers about the great things happening in our schools and how we can work together to ensure every student has an opportunity to a great public education.  

Couldn’t make our Day on the Hill? Be a part of Tennesseans across the state raising their voice for students. We’ve created an easy way for you to contact your elected officials. Take a look around our site for advocacy and policy engagement, get signed up, and share your support.

Read our full statement on the day from President and CEO Adam Lister here


Protecting Accountability with Mrs. Marshall

For students to succeed, there must be accountability for everyone involved in the classroom. How do we hold everyone accountable? We measure success. Whether it’s student assessments, district report cards, teacher evaluations, or scorecards for legislators, we measure what we want to improve. Then we report those measures accurately and transparently, ensuring the tools for growth are available, and the focus remains on improving outcomes for students.

Mrs. Tameka Marshall, a third-grade teacher from Norman Binkley Elementary School, shares about the impact accountability has on the measurements and metrics used to capture growth among her students. Click here to watch the video. 


Hearing from Student’s About #CTEMonth 

The students featured below are just a few of the individuals we’ve spoken with this month on the impact their CTE program has had on their preparedness for their future. These students are excited about learning and the opportunities that are ahead of them.

From left to right: Nick is in the culinary arts program at Nashville State Community College in Nashville. Austin is in the robotics program at Cleveland High School in Cleveland. Andreya is in the therapeutic services program at West Creek High School in Clarksville. 


Calendar of Events

February 19th – President’s Day [State Offices Closed]

February 18th10:30AM: House Higher Education Subcommittee

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

      4:30PM: House K-12 Subcommittee 

February 19th9:00AM: House Education Committee3:00PM: Senate Education Committee


In Case You Missed It…

TSS Policy Priorities: Why Protecting Accountability Matters

NASHVILLE – Tennesseans for Student Success is beginning the 2020 legislative session by outlining our policy pillars and how they affect student success. Read about our pillars here.

Why Protecting Accountability Matters: 

For students to succeed, there must be accountability for everyone involved in the classroom. From legislators to administrators, teachers and students, parents and, community volunteers, everyone has some responsibility for and contributes to the success, growth, and achievement of Tennessee’s students.

How do we hold everyone accountable? We measure success. Whether it’s student assessments, district report cards, teacher evaluations, or scorecards for legislators, we measure what we want to improve. Then we report those measures accurately and transparently, ensuring the tools for growth are available, and the focus remains on improving outcomes for students.

Mrs. Tameka Marshall, a third-grade teacher from Norman Binkley Elementary School, shares about the impact accountability has on the measurements and metrics used to capture growth among her students. Do you support good accountability systems in your schools? Let us know here.

Click here to watch the video.

Click here to watch Mr. Troy talk about aligned assessments.

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

TSS Statement on Day on the Hill 2020

NASHVILLE – Today, Tennesseans for Student Success held our third annual Day on the Hill at the Tennessee State Capitol. Around 65 educators, students, and advocates with diverse backgrounds from around the state gathered to meet with legislators and learn about the work they are doing to improve student achievement. Advocates were able to hear from legislators as well as the Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett and the Tennessee Department of Education.

Please see the following statement from our President and CEO Adam Lister:

“Today’s annual Day on the Hill helped to support success for Tennessee’s students by demonstrating for legislators a commitment from Tennesseans to be a voice, loud and clear, for better public schools. This year’s event was our largest yet. It represented a sustained interest in the policies we support and a growing commitment for stakeholders at every level to engage on the frontlines and in the legislative process. Ensuring every student, no matter their zip code, has an equal opportunity to receive a high-quality education that prepares them for their future is critical for the long-term success of the future generation.”

To learn more about our policy priorities, visit our website here.

Inside TNSuccess: February 10

TN Legislative Corner

Last week was a busy week in Tennessee and it began with Governor Lee giving the State of the State Address at the Capitol. Keep reading to find more information on what he prioritized. 

Both the House and Senate Education Committees continued the critical work of confirming appointments to key boards including the newly established Public Charter School Commission.  

The House Curriculum, Testing, & Innovation Subcommittee (CTI) recommended HB 1679, which creates a pathway for the department of education to notify school counselors and admissions officers of the many approved course substitutions available to students as it supports their postsecondary plans. This bill was recommended by CTI with unanimous support and will be heard in the full House Education Committee this week. 

HB 1687, which eliminates academic standards for science and social studies in kindergarten through grade two, is scheduled for a hearing in CTI this week. These standards have recently been reviewed and approved by the State Board of Education. High academic standards are an essential component of student success, and we will be monitoring and engaging in this concerning conversation. For additional information on the Tennessee K-12 standards, click here. Additionally, please take a moment to email your legislator today about why high academic standards matter to you. 

Further, last week marked the bill filing deadlines for the 111th General Assembly.  

The Tennessee General Assembly has introduced numerous bills within the education space this session. Catch up on bills filed last week here. For a complete list of education legislation filed by the 111th 2019-2020 General Assembly, click here.


2020 TSS Day on the Hill

Our #TSSDayontheHill2020 is TOMORROW! We are thrilled to bring educators, advocates, and students from around the state to visit the Tennessee State Capitol to talk with Tennessee lawmakers about the great things happening in our schools and how we can work together to ensure every student has an opportunity to a great public education.  


ICYMI: Governor Lee’s State of the State Address

Last Monday, Governor Bill Lee gave the 2020 State of the State Address to the joint session of the Tennessee General Assembly. Here’s what our President and CEO, Adam Lister, had to say about it:

“… Tennessee’s kids have a bright future ahead thanks to the governor’s vision and focus on early literacy, improving teacher pay, training, and professional support, and ensuring students are prepared for college and career. Governor Lee reaffirmed his commitment to public education by setting a goal to make ‘Tennessee the best state in America to be a student.’”

During his speech, Governor Lee committed:

  • A $117 million investment in teacher’s salaries, the most substantial single investment in the state’s history.
  • Raising the minimum salary for teachers from $36,000 to $40,000, statewide.
  • $8.5 million to launch the Governor’s Teaching Fellowship, offering 1,000 scholarships to the state’s brightest high school students to train to become a teacher.
  • An investment of $4 million for professional development and innovation advancement opportunities for educators.
  • A new fund to assist in the growth and placement of mental health support in at-risk schools
  • A new, comprehensive approach to literacy drawing from proven methods including phonics-based instruction, coupled with a $70 million investment to establish new standards for the training of new teachers and the development of current teachers.

Click here to view our full statement.


Celebrating CTE Month

February is Career and Technical Education month. CTE is diversified between high schools, area career centers, career academies, community and technical colleges, as well as four-year universities. Through these avenues of education, students choose a career option through 16 different career clusters with 79+ pathways. These programs are critical in Tennessee because they allow high school students to pursue industry certificates and education that a typical college education doesn’t offer, which will, in turn, assist in closing the skills gap.

Read our latest blog on CTE Month featuring Mr. Slight, Principal from West Creek High School in Clarksville, Tennessee.


SCORE Released Priorities for Improving Student Outcomes

Last week, the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) released a new report entitled, Expanding Student Success: 2020 State of Education in Tennessee.

At an event with opening remarks from Senator Bill Frist in Nashville, SCORE shared their expanded priorities for improving student outcomes in Tennessee. 

  • Create equitable opportunities for college and career success.
  • Address Tennessee’s literacy crisis.
  • Strengthen teacher preparation and improve teacher pay.
  • Demand, support, and expand strong schools.

Calendar of Events

February 10th 2:00PM: House Government Operations Committee

February 11th – 2020 TSS Day on the Hill

 10:30AM: House Higher Education Subcommittee

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

 3:00PM: House Finance, Ways, & Means Committee

      4:30PM: House K-12 Subcommittee 

February 12th9:00AM: House Education Committee

2:00PM: House Appropriations Subcommittee

      2:30PM: Senate Education Committee

February 13th – Governor Bill Lee’s State of West Tennessee Address


In Case You Missed It…

BLOG: TSS is Celebrating Career Technical Education (CTE) Month

February is CTE month. If you’re unfamiliar with what career and technical education is, we’re here to give you a refresher.

This field is diversified between high schools, area career centers, career academies, community and technical colleges, as well as four-year universities. Through these avenues of education, students choose a career option through 16 different career clusters with 79+ pathways. These programs are critical in Tennessee because they allow high school students to pursue industry certificates and education that a typical college education doesn’t offer, which will in turn, assist in closing the skills gap. This pathway is often more affordable and allows students to take on less debt while starting their industry job sooner. CTE programs and careers boost our economy and help our communities work closer together as students are better equipped and ready for college and career.

Tennessee has made a concerted effort to invest more in programs that provide various forms of education to many different types of students. For example, Governor Bill Lee recognized the skills gap in our local workforce, so he launched the Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education (GIVE) Act last year. The GIVE Act helps expand access to vocational and technical training through regional partnerships between Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCATs), community colleges, industry, economic development/workforce agencies, and K-12. Learn more about the GIVE Act here.

Through speaking with various CTE educators, business leaders, and students, we uncovered powerful stories of the way CTE programs are making a positive impact on multiple communities around the state. Today, we’re featuring Mr. Matthew Slight, Principal of West Creek High School in Clarksville, Tennessee, about how his background and experience has marked the way he leads his school and the various CTE programs they tout. 

Mr. Slight, Principal of West Creek High School

To view the video online, click here.

TSS Statement on Governor Lee’s State of the State Address

NASHVILLE – Today, Tennesseans for Student Success President and CEO Adam Lister released the following statement after Governor Bill Lee’s 2020 State of the State Address to the joint session of the Tennessee General Assembly:

“Tonight, Governor Lee laid out a bold agenda to continue to drive positive generational change and reach even greater heights of opportunity for Tennessee’s students. Tennessee’s kids have a bright future ahead thanks to the governor’s vision and focus on early literacy, improving teacher pay, training, and professional support, and ensuring students are prepared for college and career. Governor Lee reaffirmed his commitment to public education by setting a goal to make ‘Tennessee the best state in America to be a student.’”

During his speech tonight, Governor Lee committed:

  • A $117 million investment in teacher’s salaries, the most substantial single investment in the state’s history.
  • Raising the minimum salary for teachers from $36,000 to $40,000, statewide.
  • $8.5 million to launch the Governor’s Teaching Fellowship, offering 1,000 scholarships to the state’s brightest high school students to train to become a teacher.
  • An investment of $4 million for professional development and innovation advancement opportunities for educators.
  • A new fund to assist in the growth and placement of mental health support in at-risk schools.
  • A new, comprehensive approach to literacy drawing from proven methods including phonics-based instruction, coupled with a $70 million investment to establish new standards for the training of new teachers and the development of current teachers.
Inside TNSuccess: February 3

TN Legislative Corner

Last week, several bills relevant to TSS priorities were heard in House Education Committees and we’re here to tell you all about them.

The House Curriculum, Testing, & Innovation Subcommittee debated House Bill (HB) 1554, which deals with the implementation of an annual assessment. We will be monitoring this bill as it makes its way through the Education Committee. We’ll keep you posted on advocacy opportunities, which will dive deeper into policy so that you can use your voice for Tennessee kids. 

See our #TSSPriorities Aligned Assessment video for more information on why this is critical.

The House Higher Education Subcommittee heard HB 1592, which is a state-wide pilot program modeled after Knox Promise. This bill will award completion grants to Tennessee Promise scholarship students in need of financial assistance. Completion of a certificate or degree is essential, and this model of coaching, mentoring, and grant assistance for our most at-risk students has the opportunity to change lives. HB 1592 was sent to the full House Education Committee and is scheduled to be heard this week.

Governor Lee’s 2020 State of the State Address is set for tonight at 6 PM CST before a joint session of the Tennessee General Assembly in the House Chamber at the Tennessee State Capitol. Stream the broadcast live here

The Tennessee General Assembly is hard at work this year and has introduced numerous bills within the education space. Catch up on bills filed last week here.

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

These issues are important to us at TSS, let us know what issues are important to you by taking this survey!


#TSSPriorities: Aligned Assessment

Mr. Paul Troy, history educator from Hillsboro High School, shares about his experience with students and how aligned assessments, along with high expectations, serve students well and prepare them for their future.

Why Aligned Assessments Matter: A good test serves as an academic check-in confirming our students are on track for success and that our teachers, schools, and districts are supporting their growth. Aligned assessments go hand in hand with high academic standards. We must measure what matters. We advocate for better annual assessments, not more tests, as a critical tool ensuring Tennessee’s classrooms are on the right path to success and that each student receives the support they need to achieve better outcomes.

Click here to view the video. 

Click here to watch Dr. Cornett talk about why high academic standards matter.

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


National School Counseling Week Nominations are LIVE

February 3-7, 2020 is National School Counseling Week. We want to celebrate the impact and unique contribution of school counselor’s in schools across the state. Please take a moment to nominate a school counselor from your school or community and let us know why they deserve this recognition. We will choose a winner and celebrate that individual with a small gift. 


TSS 2020 Legislative Welcome Breakfast

Calendar of Events

February 3-7thNational School Counseling Week 

February 3rd Governor Bill Lee’s State of the State Address

February 4th10:30AM: House Higher Education Subcommittee

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

    4:30PM: House K-12 Subcommittee 

February 5th1:30PM: Senate Education Committee

5:00PM: House Education Committee

February 6thGovernor Bill Lee’s State of East Tennessee Address

February 11th – 2020 TSS Day on the Hill

February 13th – Governor Bill Lee’s State of West Tennessee Address


In Case You Missed It…

TSS Policy Priorities: Why Aligned Assessment Matters

NASHVILLE – Tennesseans for Student Success is beginning the 2020 legislative session by outlining our policy pillars and how they affect student success. Our five pillars are higher academic standards, an aligned assessment to those standards, protecting accountability, innovation in education, and securing economic freedom for all. 

Why Aligned Assessments Matter: 

A good test serves as an academic check-in confirming our students are on track for success and that our teachers, schools, and districts are supporting their growth. Aligned assessments go hand in hand with high academic standards. We must measure what matters. We advocate for better annual assessments, not more tests, as a critical tool ensuring Tennessee’s classrooms are on the right path to success and that each student receives the support they need to achieve better outcomes.

Mr. Paul Troy, history educator from Hillsboro High School, shares about his experience with students and how aligned assessments, along with high expectations serve students well and prepare them for their future.

Click here to view the video. 

Click here to view Dr. Cornett talk about high academic standards.

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

Inside TNSuccess: January 27

TN Legislative Corner

Last week, the members of the House Curriculum, Testing, & Innovation Subcommittee became students as they engaged in Simultaneous Multisensory Institute of Language Arts (SMILA) instruction. Teachers from around the state took part in the hands-on approach to this style of teaching and led legislators in the visual, auditory, and tactile pathway to literacy. Legislators learned how to construct a paragraph and learned a new letter of the alphabet, among many other skills. Check out last week’s CTI Subcommittee hearing here.

The Senate and House Education Committees heard two presentations: an update on campus security and the Tennessee Servicemember Opportunity Portal (TN-SOP) by Mike Krause, Executive Director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC), and information on the Bass Military Scholars Program by Vanderbilt University.

The Tennessee General Assembly is hard at work this year and has introduced numerous bills within the education space. Catch up on bills filed last week here.

For a complete list of education legislation filed by the 111th 2019-2020 General Assembly, click here.Not subscribed to our newsletter and want to be? Add your email today to receive our weekly updates.


National School Counseling Week

February 3-7, 2020 is National School Counseling Week. We want to celebrate the impact and unique contribution of school counselor’s in schools across the state. School counselors are instrumental in assisting students in preparing for college and career, as well as encouraging students in their studies for future success. 

We want to recognize school counselors this week and highlight counselors who have made an instrumental impact in your school community. Please take a moment to nominate a school counselor from your school and let us know why they deserve this recognition. We will choose a winner and celebrate that individual with a small gift. 


Why High Academic Expectations Matter

Tennessee’s students will soon be competing for spots in colleges, for jobs, for placements in technical fields, and for prestigious positions in our Nation’s Armed Forces with students from across the country. We believe academic standards that set clear goals for what students should learn are necessary to prepare students for success in a 21st-century economy. Our students are capable of incredible things and when provided with high quality, rigorous materials and standards, they become more engaged and prepared for the challenges and opportunities as they graduate and earn a post-secondary credential, degree, or enter the workforce.

High expectations matter. Take a moment to let YOUR legislator know why student-centered policies matter to you by sending an email today.


Calendar of Events

January 27-31st – National School Choice Week

January 28th – TSS Legislative Welcome Breakfast for members of the TN General Assembly and their staff

10:30AM: House Higher Education Subcommittee 

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

4:30PM: House K-12 Subcommittee

January 29th – 2:30PM: Senate Education Committee

5:00PM: House Education Committee

February 3rd – Governor Bill Lee’s State of the State AddressFebruary 11th – 2020 TSS Day on the Hill


In Case You Missed It…

Inside TNSuccess: January 21

TN Legislative Corner

The 2020 legislative session of the 111th Tennessee General Assembly convened at noon on Tuesday, January 14th. Here at TSS, we are passionate about keeping Tennesseans up-to-date on the happenings inside the Capitol and how it impacts student success in the classroom.

Each week, we’ll send pertinent information and updates from the hill, links to live streams of education committee action, and details of bills or amendments that are important for students.

Not subscribed to our newsletter and want to be? Add your email today to receive our weekly updates.


Education Committee Insight

Fast Facts:

  • House Education Committee is chaired by Rep. Mark White (R-83) with 24 members on the committee. House Education has 3 subcommittees: Curriculum, Testing, & Innovation, Higher Education, and K-12. 
  • Senate Education Committee is chaired by Sen. Dolores Gresham (R-26) with 9 members on the committee.  
  • If you missed the House Education Committee’s gaveling in on January 15th, we’ve linked the video stream for you to check it out here. We appreciate Chairman White’s welcoming remarks, beginning with recognizing and appreciating the hard-working teachers across our state. He then set the tone for a productive session where members “work together to put the very best legislation forward that will support our teachers, our schools, but most of all our students,” asking members to “lay aside our politics and do what is best for the students of our state.” At Chairman White’s request, Rep. John DeBerry offered a moving prayer asking that the committee be granted wisdom, courage, and the ability to stay focused on the mission. He asked that each member be “dedicated to a better future for each and every person that we serve.”  
  • The Tennessee General Assembly got right to work this year and introduced numerous bills within the education space. Catch up on bills filed in January here.
  • For a complete list of education legislation filed by the 111th 2019-2020 General Assembly, click here.

Welcome Back Your Elected Officials

It’s critical we let our elected officials know that we care about the decisions they make that impact students and we will be paying attention. Please take a few moments to send a welcome back email introducing yourself as an education advocate and reminding them of the important work they do for students. Our elected officials want to hear from you! 

As our state legislators gather in Nashville this January, let them know you believe that every student in every classroom deserves the best education possible.


#TSSPriorities: Higher Standards

Tennesseans for Student Success is kicking off the 2020 legislative session by outlining our policy pillars and how they affect student success. Our five pillars are higher academic standards, an aligned assessment to those standards, protecting accountability, innovation in education, and securing economic freedom for all. 

Why Higher Standards Matter: 

High academic standards that set clear goals for what students should learn are necessary to prepare students for success in a 21st-century economy. From Kindergarten to graduation, today’s students need a strong foundation and a variety of skills and abilities to be successful in their chosen next steps. Upon graduation, they will enter the workforce, complete a professional certification at a technical school, serve in America’s Armed Forces, or earn a degree from a college or university. Whatever the path, students must be ready to achieve, learn, and grow. High academic expectations in today’s classrooms prepare students to reach their fullest potential and to thrive as they pursue tomorrow’s opportunities for success.

Watch Dr. Rachel P. Cornett, K-5 Academic Interventionist at Brown’s Chapel Elementary School in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, as she highlights how high academic standards taught at every grade-level help ensure Tennessee’s students are able to exceed expectations and continue on the pathway to success.


Calendar of Events

January 21st – 12:00PM: House Education Curriculum, Testing, & Innovation Subcommittee

4:30PM: House Education K-12 Subcommittee

January 22nd – 2:30PM: Senate Education Committee

 5:00PM: House Education Committee

January 27-31st – National School Choice Week

January 28th – TSS Legislative Welcome Breakfast for members of the TN General Assembly and their staff

February 11th2020 TSS Day on the Hill


In Case You Missed It…

TSS Launches Policy Priorities Campaign: Higher Standards

NASHVILLE – Tennesseans for Student Success is kicking off the 2020 legislative session by outlining our policy pillars and how they affect student success. Our five pillars are higher academic standards, an aligned assessment to those standards, protecting accountability, innovation in education, and securing economic freedom for all. 

Why Higher Standards Matter: 

High academic standards that set clear goals for what students should learn are necessary to prepare students for success in a 21st-century economy. From Kindergarten to graduation, today’s students need a strong foundation and a variety of skills and abilities to be successful in their chosen next steps. Upon graduation, they will enter the workforce, complete a professional certification at a technical school, serve in America’s Armed Forces, or earn a degree from a college or university. Whatever the path, students must be ready to achieve, learn, and grow. High academic expectations in today’s classrooms prepare students to reach their fullest potential and to thrive as they pursue tomorrow’s opportunities for success.

Watch Dr. Rachel P. Cornett, K-5 Academic Interventionist at Brown’s Chapel Elementary School in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, as she highlights how high academic standards taught at every grade-level help ensure Tennessee’s students are able to exceed expectations and continue on the pathway to success.  

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Below is an excerpt from Dr. Cornett:

“Hi, my name is Rachel P. Cornett and I have been a public educator for 14 years here in middle Tennessee…

“I’m really excited that in Tennessee we have high standards that are very rigorous. [They are] revised by educators with input from policymakers, parents, and our communities to really form what we expect and want all of our students in Tennessee to know and be able to do.

“When we think of high standards, we have to have aligned assessments to make sure that we’re working towards reaching those goals in Tennessee…

“I’ve worked a lot with the state Department of Education. I’ve done professional development and worked around the state, so I’ve seen educators get excited about the rigor of these standards and what their students are able to do with what they know when they’re pushed and when they have the proper support. It’s exciting, with the aligned assessment, to see their progress.”

Click here to view the video. 

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

Inside TNSuccess: August 5

Tennesseans for Student Success is excited to announce that we are rebranding our newsletter to be called Inside TNSuccess. 

Read below for important news happening around the state in the education space and ways you can get involved and stay informed


A Word from Our President, Adam Lister

It is my honor and privilege as President and CEO of Tennesseans for Student Success (TSS), to lead this organization by supporting and championing Tennessee’s students and their futures. As a father of two and husband to an incredible public-school teacher, I feel grateful that I am able to work toward ensuring today’s students are more prepared and have more opportunities for success than those who graduated before them. 

To that end, over the past couple of weeks, TSS has held education advocacy and leadership summits in Knoxville and Nashville for educators, parents and community leaders interested in learning how to best advocate for students in their sphere of influence. Included in our events were lawmakers, former lawmakers, leadership experts and community pioneers who invested their time, wisdom and outlook on the education landscape to better equip others.

Above all else, TSS believes that open, honest and robust conversations about improving public education plays a vital role in driving enhanced student achievement. We are unapologetic about our advocacy for higher academic standards, an assessment aligned with those standards, accountability for everyone involved in the classroom and providing more choice within public education.

As the new school year begins across the state today, we are thrilled that our amazing educators are filling Tennessee’s schools in order to make a difference in the lives of upcoming generations. Tennessee’s future looks very bright, and I look forward to what’s ahead for our students. 


Tennessee Legislative Corner

On Wednesday, July 24, 2019, the Tennessee House Republican Caucus met and nominated current Caucus Chairman Cameron Sexton of Crossville to be the Republican nominee for House Speaker.

Additionally, last Friday, Rep. Casada’s resignation as Tennessee House Speaker became effective. Knoxville Rep. Bill Dunn will take his place in the interim before the Tennessee General Assembly convenes in a special session on August 23. At that time, the House will elect a new speaker, presumably Rep. Sexton.


Tristar Reads: Honoring America’s Superhero Servicemembers

This week with Tristar Reads, we are highlighting the men and women who serve our great nation and allow us to have the freedoms that we enjoy every day. Let’s use our superhero powers to extend gratitude to those who protect this amazing country. 

We’re thankful to live in such an amazing and free country, which is why we’d like to honor Corporal Knight during our reading this week. He serves our nation in the United States Army and the Tennessee Army National Guard. Be sure to watch his special reading of America the Beautiful Together We Stand here. 

Remember: students in grades K-12 are eligible and will be entered for a chance to win a $1,000 scholarship! Log your hours with Tristar Reads now. Don’t miss out on important reminders and the weekly Superhero Challenge. Sign up for our weekly Tristar Reads email today!


Use Your Voice

Do you want to learn more about how to advocate for Tennessee students and make a difference? Check out our online advocacy portal to do just that!

RSVP for our Nashville Teacher Paint Night on August 13th! 
Meet teachers from across Middle TN, create something unique for your classroom or home and learn more about TSS. Regular price is $35, teacher price is $15 (includes light dinner). Sign up here


ICYMI…