• Training Tennessee's future workforce is an urgent mission that starts in the classroom.

    Friday, December 01, 2023 | 07:00am

    By Darrell Cobbins and Larry Jensen, Tennessee State Board of Education members As Tennessee State Board of Education members, we have the privilege to advocate for parents, teachers, students, and local school districts across all 95 counties. We take pride in the work of Tennessee’s 1,843 public schools and want to guarantee our students are developing the skills in the classroom to be adequately prepared for a lifetime of success. We recently attended the Future Forward Summit, hosted by the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE), which allowed us to connect with over 150 business leaders, education leaders, and policymakers. In our time as Board members, this is the first event that brought forth the challenges and tangible solutions to ensure Tennessee’s education policies are evolving in tandem with the needs of our ever-changing economy and workforce. While a critical conversation and a good start, this is just the beginning of a long journey to help Tennessee lead the nation in workforce development and become the best at preparing students for the jobs of the future. According to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, approximately 430,000 working-age Tennesseans do not possess a high school diploma or equivalent. And the median salary for Tennessee’s non-high school graduates is $23,955, according to the U.S. Career Institute. One can clearly reason that most of these Tennesseans are living on the edge of poverty. We also see at a local level that we have an estimated 100,000 Memphians experiencing poverty because they are in need of academic remediation to access career and technical education. How do we break the cycle of adults not finishing high school? We must start in our classrooms. No matter what route a high school graduate takes upon graduation, he or she should feel confident knowing their future job can earn enough to cover the cost of living. Developing robust plans that include local school districts, collaborating with Tennessee’s Departments of Education, Labor and Workforce Development, and our many higher education institutions, can help reduce the common barriers many students face as they plan for education and training beyond high school. But changing the postsecondary-going landscape will require more than just state-level action. We must continue to rely on local chambers of commerce, which play an essential role in accelerating economic mobility by identifying our critical workforce needs and helping raise the visibility of businesses that can be innovative partners with local public school systems. In West Tennessee, the Ford Motor Company is building relationships with Memphis-Shelby County Schools to prepare students for possible careers at BlueOval City. The company also continues efforts with other local districts to find ways their schools can align curriculum, hands-on training, and work-based learning opportunities. In particular, at Cordova High School, students are eligible to take industry-focused courses that lead to an Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification. With an ASE certification and depending on the position, workers could make between $21 to $29 per hour at BlueOval SK, part of BlueOval City’s future $5.6 billion campus in nearby Stanton, TN. As more employers put roots down in our state, Tennessee has an opportunity to take advantage of new initiatives that offer every student access to postsecondary and career success. Yet, without more active partnerships and CTE programming in our high schools, many students will not have the leverage to take on future workforce opportunities. Ensuring Tennessee’s students are prepared and motivated to pursue the jobs of today and tomorrow will take school districts, chambers of commerce, state and local governments, businesses, and elected officials working together to strengthen our workforce pipeline, develop our students, and grow Tennessee from within. While no two students' paths will look the same, their K-12 education must set them up for successful lives and economic independence.

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  • Tennessee State Board of Education Seeks to Develop an Educator Licensure Review Committe

    Thursday, November 30, 2023 | 12:00pm

    Tennessee recognizes the need to have a sufficient supply of excellent educators to meet the needs of the state. The State Board of Education’s, Master Plan 2022-2025, includes a specific strategic focus on “Teachers and Leaders” and states as follows: All schools are staffed with qualified and effective educators. The State Board of Education (State Board) staff, working with the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE), have started the process to identify recommendations that will ensure that the licensure system and policies meet Tennessee’s needs. To ensure the licensure system is reviewed often, the State Board’s Executive Director seeks to develop an Educator Licensure Review Committee. The Committee will convene at least annually to examine state law, and State Board rules and policies to highlight areas of strength, while identifying challenges, and potential changes. Recommendations will be made to the Executive Director of the State Board for consideration. The Committee will represent all regions of the state and include educators, district and state education leaders, and legislators. Through this Committee, educator licensure requirements and related board rules and policies will be discussed alongside issues faced by educators and districts. Convening on a regular cadence to discuss key issues will ensure ongoing reflection with regard to this complex, yet critical, policy issue. Work to Date Beginning in Spring 2023, staff from the State Board and TDOE began convening with the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) to create a draft vision and guiding principles for educator licensure and to identify key issues within the current system through surveying key stakeholders across the state. Both the Vision and Principles and the key issues will serve as a focus of initial discussions of the Committee. Key Issues Early discussions and engagement with stakeholders indicate that there are a few key issues that warrant investigation and potential action in the initial stages of the Committee. These issues include: Continued use of the edTPA as a licensure requirement for candidates completing undergraduate and traditional post-baccalaureate preparation programs; Evaluation of requirements for occupational licensure and accessibility of licensure pathways for prospective educators transitioning from industry; Improvement of communication of more recently developed pathways to licensure; and Identification of needs related to restructuring of current endorsements and creation of new endorsements. To read a full overview of the committee, read here. If you are interested in being considered for this Committee, please send a statement of interest to Michael Deurlein, Deputy Executive Director of Policy and Research (Michael.J.Deurlein@tn.gov), no later than January 15, 2024.

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  • Tennessee State Board of Education Releases First Annual Master Plan Report

    Tuesday, November 14, 2023 | 01:00pm

    The State Board of Education is pleased to release our first annual Master Plan Report which focuses on state-wide outcomes and the State Board’s efforts to ensure our rules, policies, and systems are working together to support student success. In 2022, the State Board revised its plan for K-12 education to elevate four intentional strategic focus areas and to set ambitious yet attainable incremental goals. The 2023 Report outlines the State Board’s key focus areas, the steps we have taken over the last year to strengthen rules, policies, and systems, and Tennessee’s state-wide outcomes to date. “We share this information with the understanding that we must be transparent about our outcomes, measure our progress, and construct innovative solutions together. Please continue to engage with your appointed board member as we work together to ensure all students in Tennessee are prepared for postsecondary and life success,” says State Board Chairman Bob Eby and Executive Director, Dr. Sara Morrison The State Board is charged by state law, T.C.A. § 49-1-302 with developing and maintaining a master plan for public education, kindergarten through grade twelve, and providing recommendations to the executive branch, the general assembly and the local boards of education and directors of schools regarding the use of public funds for education. The State Board’s master plan provides a lens through which all Tennesseans can examine state-level efforts and determine if rules and policies are positioning school districts to effectively prepare Tennessee students for workforce, post-secondary success, and productive citizenship. The State Board regularly evaluates progress and updates its master plan to inform recommendations regarding the use of public funds for education every three years. The master plan can be viewed on the State Board website here. ###

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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. ###

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.”

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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