Metro Nashville Public Schools administrators are recommending that the board deny the only charter school application that has come in this year.
In a report sent to board members this week, district officials criticized the proposal from the nonprofit ReThink Forward, saying it wasn’t specific enough and the financial model was incomplete.
If the school board agrees with the recommendation, this would mark the fourth year that the district has shied away from charters, which are part of MNPS but run by private operaters.
That’s after years of consistent charter growth. Between 2011 and 2014, the board approved 19 applications for new charter schools or for existing charter schools to open new locations. Since 2015, the board has approved one.
Dennis Queen, who heads the Charter School Office within MNPS, says charters shouldn’t take that as a sign that the district doesn’t want new ones anymore. It’s just being more selective, he says: In addition to digging more into the application’s data to make sure it’s sound, the district is looking for an element of innovation. [Read more at WPLN, NashvillePublicRadio.org]Read More
Tennessee’s plan to start grading its schools this year has taken a big detour.
Days of online testing problems this spring forced officials to toss out a new A-F grading system, under development for more than a year as part of Tennessee’s sweeping plan to usher in a new era of school quality.
Now the state Education Department has come up with a different approach to help parents and communities understand how their schools performed in 2017-18.
The state will rate each school on a scale of 0-4 on six different performance indicators. And in a major concession to local district leaders, schools won’t receive a single overall grade or rating as initially planned.
Education Commissioner Candice McQueen said the change complies with a new state law ordering that this year’s TNReady scores “shall not be used to assign a letter grade to a school” — a nod to concerns that the test results may be unreliable. She believes it also complies with the Every Student Succeeds Act, also known as ESSA, the 2015 federal law that requires every state to adopt a rating system that distinguishes each of its schools in a meaningful way.
McQueen’s approach is drawing mostly praise from education leaders and groups, even as some wonder whether a numeric system will provide the simplicity and clarity of one that grades schools on an A-F scale. [Read more at Chalkbeat.org]Read More
Student achievement gains are higher in schools where principals’ leadership practices are rated more positively by their supervisors, according to a new brief by the Tennessee Education Research Alliance at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of education and human development.
Examining Tennessee school data from the 2011-12 school year through the 2014-15 school year, TERA faculty director Jason A. Grissom and his team examined the extent to which supervisors’ ratings of principal’s job practices, provided as part of the state’s leader evaluation system, predict measures of school success, including student learning, school climate and teacher retention.
“Our findings offer evidence that district leaders can identify their effective principals,” said Grissom, associate professor of public policy and education. “The principals they evaluate more positively against the state’s instructional leadership standards see better outcomes for both students and teachers.”[Read more at Vanderbilt.edu]Read More
Rutherford County’s Central Magnet School was named for the second year in a row the top Tennessee public high schools, according to a 2018 U.S. News & World Report ranking.
Four other Middle Tennessee public schools also sit atop the annual rankings of high schools in the state. Last year, seven of the region’s public schools topped the list.
This year, a Knox County School broke into the top six of all public high schools statewide.
The yearly state rankings by U.S. News & World Report consider performance on the math and reading portions of state proficiency tests, graduation rates, college readiness and proof that schools serve all students well.
Central Magnet was also named the 44th best public high school in the country, according to the ranking. [Read more at Tennessean]Read More
Math scores have been flat since 2009 and reading scores since 1998, with just a third or so of students performing at a level the NAEP defines as “proficient.” Performance gaps between lower-income students and their more affluent peers, among other demographic discrepancies, have remained stubbornly wide.
Among the likely culprits for the stalled progress in math scores: a misalignment between what the NAEP tests and what state standards require teachers to cover at specific grade levels. But what’s the reason for the utter lack of progress in reading scores?
Tennessee wants to spend more than $3.5 million next year to improve the state’s principal pipeline.
Gov. Bill Haslam said the money, earmarked in his January budget proposal, will be used for three principal leadership initiatives — preparation, retention and development. The funds are boosted by $600,000 in donations from private groups.
Haslam said at a news conference that a leader is one of the most important factors in the success of a school.
The money will be spent on three initiatives:
- $1.25 million in recurring funds to help colleges create best practices in training school leaders, including through mentoring, residency programs and partnerships with school districts. The state also will partner on the initiative with philanthropy groups through $600,000 in one-time money.
- $1.92 million in one-time money to help struggling schools by providing incentives for effective principals to stay and lead Tennessee’s lowest-performing schools.
- $500,000 in one-time money to create a program that would support the development of rural school leaders, including scholarships to participate in networking and training. [Read more at The Tennessean]
Three of Tennessee’s 10 largest teacher training programs increased their scores on a state report card that seeks to capture how well new teachers are being prepared for the classroom based on state goals.
The University of Tennessee-Knoxville became the first public university to achieve a top score under the State Board of Education’s new grading system, now in its second year. And Middle Tennessee State University and East Tennessee State University also improved their scores.
But most of Tennessee’s 39 programs scored the same in 2017 as in 2016. Those included the University of Memphis and Austin Peay State University. [Read more at Chalkbeat Tennessee]Read More