The Tennessee Department of Education announced a partnership with the Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation (GELF) on Wednesday aimed to deliver books to the parents of young elementary school-aged children this winter. The books are offered at no cost and are for kindergarten through second grade children. The effort is part of the state’s increased commitment to early childhood literacy under Governor Lee.Read More
The Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) released the 2021-22 State Report Card on Monday. The Report Card serves as an annual reflection of lawmakers’ desires to bring greater transparency into how Tennessee’s schools are serving students and families.
State Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said in a statement about the report, “With the release of the State Report Card, Tennessee continues our firm commitment to providing families with clear, actionable information on how our districts and schools are serving students.”Read More
An optimistic Penny Schwinn, Tennessee’s Commissioner of Education, presented the department’s2023/2024 proposed budget to Governor Lee and his advisors. For his part, the Governor was cordial, congratulatory, and to the point – often raising questions during the 30-minute presentation.
With confidence in his re-election bid running high, Governor Lee scheduled state departmental budget hearings for November 9th. A day after Tuesday’s statewide election that awarded him four more years as Governor. In the wake of securing his job for another term, Governor Lee indicated that education would remain a top priority going forth.Read More
Novemer 14 to 18 is National Apprenticeship Week, and the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) is celebrating by touting its one-of-a-kind teacher apprenticeship program.
“This week, the Tennessee Department of Education is celebrating the important role apprenticeships play in postsecondary preparation during the 8th Annual National Apprenticeship Week, happening November 14-18. Specifically, the department is highlighting the Tennessee Teacher Apprenticeship, the first registered apprenticeship program for teaching in the country, paving the way for the future of the teaching profession,” according to a release.Read More
Tennessee’s Department of Education (TDOE) and its Department of Agriculture (TDA) are teaming up to promote a nearly 100-year-old student organization.
Membership numbers are on the rise for Future Farmers of America (FFA) in the state, according to a joint release from the TDOE and TDOA.Read More
A recently released report from the Tennessee Comptroller’s office shows that Tennessee K-3 students are making positive, albeit slight, growth in acquiring reading skills. Those conclusions were drawn from state-mandated K-3 universal reading screeners (URS), which all school districts are required to administer as part of legislation passed in 2021 during a Special Session of the General Assembly on education.
Legislators passed the Tennessee Literacy Success Act (TLSA), with the intent to ensure that students were on track to become proficient readers by the end of grade 3. The URS requirement was embedded in the bill as a means to safeguard taxpayer investment while delivering on promises made to Tennessee students.Read More
Tennessee’s Department of Education (TDOE) is celebrating a first-of-it’s kind initiative that allows future teachers to qualify for that position by completing an apprenticeship program.
Announced in January, 2022, the “Grow Your Own” initiative has “set a new path for the educator profession as the top state to become and remain a teacher and leader for all” by “support[ing] partnerships between Educator Preparation Providers (EPPs) and Local Education Agencies (LEAs) to provide innovative, no-cost pathways to the teaching profession and will continue to build pipelines of qualified teachers and school district professionals.”Read More
We have seen the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) grab headlines in recent days. Pundits are quick to proclaim that the sky is falling, but the truth is the scores have been consistent and relatively flat since 1970, particularly in reading. Not every student in a state takes NAEP, only a random sample of students – every two years. There is no individual data. I agree with historian Diane Ravitch, a big takeaway on NAEP is “that virtual learning is a fourth-rate substitute for a real teacher and interaction with peers.”Read More
A late September letter from the Federal Department of Education (DOE) to the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) threatened to pull TDOE’s federal funding over what the federal government describes as failure to comply with federal assessment reporting standards in 2021.
“The assessment and accountability compliance issues are significant because they not only impact the State’s ability to provide clear and transparent information to the public about school performance, but also result in the State using information that is not comparable across schools in TDOE’s statewide accountability system,” said the letter addressed to Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Peggy Schwinn.Read More
The Tennessee textbook commission expressed their need for additional staff and an attorney, following the library materials law, requiring schools to catalog and publicize their list of library and classroom materials.
Director of Schools for Bradley County and Textbook and Instructional Materials Quality Commission chair Linda Cash spoke to the legislative subcommittee that the law has added a lot of work “to people who already have a full load.”Read More
Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) Commissioner Penny Schwinn met First Lady Jill Biden and U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to the University of Tennessee (UT) on Monday as the pair kicked off the Road to Success Back to School Bus Tour.Read More
Tennessee’s Department of Education (TDOE) has announced its finalists for the 2022-2023 Principal of the Year Award.
“Principals and supervisors play a foundational role in the success of their teachers and students, and we are fortunate to have so many incredible principals and supervisors in the state of Tennessee,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “I am inspired by these outstanding leaders that continually work to support students and school communities across Tennessee.”Read More
The Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) announced on Wednesday that a $10.2 million investment grant is open for all Tennessee public school districts.
The agency said the Resilient School Communities Grant is available to address needs for school-based support, expand school-based initiatives, and increase staff capacity to best serve students.Read More
The Tennessee Department of Education has sent out its first approval letters to families applying for the state’s Education Savings Account (ESA) program, with 46 applicants approved thus far, out of a total number of 517, as of Wednesday.
“To note, an award for an Education Savings Account does not mean that a student is accepted to a participating private school,” said Brian Blackley, director of media for the department. “A student must still apply to a participating private school. A participating private school’s decision to accept or reject a student is the sole decision of the school.”Read More
School districts in Tennessee can now apply for Innovative School Model Grants that focus on job training for students.
“Through reimagining the middle or high school experience, students will have a variety of opportunities to gain real-world experience, explore various industries and available jobs, and choose a pathway best suited to their skillset,” said Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “I thank Governor Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly who passed this historic opportunity, all districts interested in applying for this funding, and those who helped us celebrate throughout the month.”Read More
The Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) announced Thursday the nine finalists for the statewide Teacher of the Year award.
“The nine finalists represent each of the eight Center of Regional Excellence (CORE) areas in the state, as well as the Shelby County-Municipals area,” according to the TDOE. “The 2022-23 Tennessee Teacher of the Year, and winners for each grand division of the state, will be selected from this group and announced during an honorary banquet this fall.”Read More
As Tennesseans prepare to head to the polls on August 4, where they will vote on whether to retain the state’s five Supreme Court justices, The Tennessee Star has completed a profile on each justice currently sitting on the bench.
Last week, The Star profiled Justice Roger Page.Read More
The Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) says that its students have rebounded after the COVID-19 pandemic, and that Math and English Language Arts (ELA) scores increased in the 2021-2022 school year.
“Results from the 2021-22 TCAP assessments show that elementary students significantly improved their ELA scores and are performing at a level similar to pre-pandemic years,” said a TDOE press release. “Additionally, improved performance in math was evident for Tennessee students of all ages. Every student group showed an increase in proficiency as demonstrated on the 2022 TCAP assessments.”Read More
The Tennessee Department of Education announced the approval of all 147 school districts on their required ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) plans. Through ESSER, the schools have more than $3.5 billion through federal COVID-19 relief funding to benefit K-12 public school students in their districts. Following the U.S. Department of Education guidelines, all districts were “required to develop plans that outlined their local spending strategies for their portion of the historic amount of federal funding.”Read More
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and staff at the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) this week released projected data that predates COVID-19 and compared it to student’s actual TCAP scores. They said in a press release that they did this to measure the pandemic’s impact on student achievement via the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS) public site. State officials use the site annually to measure students’ overall growth.Read More
It is a disturbing trend to hire outside consultants or independent contractors, with little direct oversight, to perform government jobs, whether nationally or statewide. The running joke is “if you have an out-of-state license plate on your car and drive by slowly at the Tennessee Department of Education, they will throw a contract in your car, and you too can be an education consultant.” Now that is probably not very accurate or fair, but then again, I have a Tennessee tag on my car and I have been known to drive a little fast.
It is likely that the majority of consultants and contractors follow our state laws and maintain the necessary integrity. However, all Tennesseans should be somewhat concerned by a contracting process if it has little or no accountability. We must also do a better job of tracking performance data. Especially when we are using tax dollars in Tennessee to contract with people outside the state. Oversight is critical to making sure taxpayers are getting what they are paying for.Read More
The Tennessee Department of Education announced over 1,300 public comments have been collected on a potential new school funding formula. The department made the statements available to the public and can be seen here. The statement said comments came from “hundreds of parents, educators, superintendents, elected officials, business and community leaders, and citizens from across the state.”
“Tennesseans recognize what a historic moment in time this is for education in our state, and I want to thank those who submitted public comments as part of our engagement process on a potential new funding formula for Tennessee’s public schools,” Commissioner Penny Schwinn said.“As has been shared in subcommittee meetings, at town halls, on social media, and at local meetings, a new public education funding formula for Tennessee must be centered around our students so that we can ensure our children can thrive in the classroom and be successful after high school.”Read More
The Metro Nashville School District and the State Department of Education is set to hold a town hall meeting Wednesday night at 6:30pm. Parents, students, teachers, and community members are encouraged to share their thoughts on state education funding. The meeting is scheduled to last an hour.Read More
As Tennessee officials get closer to presenting a new state funding proposal for K-12 public education, at least one state senator is concerned about the costs of record-keeping in the new plan.
“The way the bill is going to read, the state is going to give a capitated rate per student to the district and then, for rural schools or economically disadvantaged schools or schools with high amounts of English as a second language, they give bonuses basically,” said Sen. John Stevens, R-Huntingdon, a member of the Rural and Small District Subcommittee – one of 18 subcommittees under a steering committee involved in reviewing the state’s school funding formula. “Extra money for these extra things that you do.Read More
The local officials who lead public schools throughout Tennessee said in a new poll that they want state officials to overhaul the state’s current school funding framework. This, according to a poll that the Nashville-based TennesseeCAN released this week. Members of TennesseeCAN, according to the group’s website, prioritize “K-12 education policies that put children first.”Read More
The Tennessee Department of Education released the graduation rate for the 2020-21 school year and data shows that 88.7% of students graduated on time this year compared to 89.6% last year. According to a press release, 37 districts improved their graduation rates, and 37 districts graduated 95% or more of their cohorts.Read More
The Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) has launched a dashboard aimed at transparency and information about the goings on in the state’s public school districts.
“This interactive dashboard filters data from the Tennessee Department of Education’s Annual Statistical Report (ASR) to provide information about Tennessee public education at the state and district levels,” the state comptroller’s website says.Read More
People who attended regional town halls this fall to discuss Tennessee’s public education funding strategy want legislators to pump even more money into public schools, but one state legislator said that’s not a remedy for improvement. Senator Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald) said Wednesday that the state’s funding formula should change but it needs to recognize how many teachers and principals are needed.Read More
After a new bill was signed into law prohibiting the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in Tennessee Schools, an activist group’s complaint against the Williamson County Schools was tossed out by the head of the Tennessee Department of Education (DOE).
A letter signed by Robin E. Steenman, Chairman of the Williamson County chapter of Moms for Liberty and addressed to DOE Commissioner Dr. Penny Schwinn accuses the school district of teaching the tenets of CRT to seven and eight-year-olds, in violation of the new law.Read More
Friday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed Tennessee Textbook and Instruction Materials Quality Commission member Laurie Cardoza-Moore to the newsmakers line to discuss the hiring of progressive Rachael Maves to the DOE.Read More
A member of Tennessee’s Textbook and Instructional Materials Quality Commission, Laurie Cardoza-Moore, has sounded an alarm on a new Tennessee Department of Education official and her reported advocacy of math equity. Math Equity is the concept that working to answer a question correctly constitutes racism and white supremacy.Read More
The Tennessee Department of Education held its third Town Hall meeting on November 1, 2021, at the University of Tennessee Southern’s Curry Athletic Complex. The meeting was also live-streamed on their FaceBook page.
Similar to the first town hall held in Hendersonville, a representative from the Tennessee Department of Education announced that the discussion at the meeting was not intended to replace the current Basic Education Plan, or BEP, until a new funding plan was passed by the General Assembly.Read More
A high-ranking official with the Tennessee Department of Education — who is new to the job and previously worked in California — has a resume that includes pushing for math equity. This, according to Breitbart.com.Read More
HENDERSONVILLE, Tennessee – The Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) hosted a town hall meeting Wednesday night to discuss a student-centered public school funding strategy. The majority of the attendees that spoke were either current or former teachers, along with a few parents. Commissioner Penny Schwinn spoke at the event and said that she was happy to see so many people and students at the meeting.
“We want to make sure that everyone is heard. Whether you can come out here in person, whether you’re live streaming, whether you want to submit something on your phone,” Schwinn said. “This is really about a needs assessment. What do we want to be true for public education in this state?”Read More
Staff at the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) have invited all state residents to eight regional public town halls later this month and throughout next month to discuss the state’s public education funding strategy.“These public town halls will spark localized conversations about student-based funding for public education in Tennessee and how to create a new strategy to best serve our students and ensure they are prepared for future success,” according to a TDOE press release.Read More
Tennessee Comptrollers Jason Mumpower this week released a report warning Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) officials to take additional steps to make sure they can recover assessment tests that students take online. But TDOE officials told The Tennessee Star on Tuesday that they have already addressed the Comptrollers’ concerns.Read More
Some of the Tennessee’s educators said in a new survey that they worried about students missing class time during the time of COVID-19. Officials with the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) and the Tennessee Education Research Alliance (TERA) on Sunday released what they said were key findings and responses from the 2021 Tennessee Educator Survey from 40,000 educators.Read More
Lipscomb University announced on Friday that Dr. Candice McQueen, former commissioner of education for Tennessee, will serve as the school’s new president.
McQueen, who previously served as the school’s dean of the university’s College of Education, will be the first woman to lead the 130-year-old institution.Read More
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) awarded Tennessee $830 million in funds to reopen and secure schools. The Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) earned these funds based on their American Rescue Plan (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Plan (ESSER). All states may submit an ARP ESSER plan. So far, ED reports that 40 states have submitted one.
According to the ED press release, this latest funding brings Tennessee’s total ARP funds to nearly $2.5 billion.Read More
Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn awarded an $8.06 million contract to a company whose CEO supports Critical Race Theory and anti-racism in classrooms. As The Tennessee Star reported previously, Schwinn’s husband works at The New Teacher Project (TNTP) as well.
TNTP CEO Dan Weisberg has posted frequently about his support for critical race theory and anti-racist teaching. Weisberg tweeted articles showing his support for the two ideologies five times in the last month, as of this publication.Read More
Tennessee’s Education Commissioner, Penny Schwinn, wants to award another no-bid contract – this time, $7.5 million in federal funds over 3 years for a variety of services from NCS Pearson. These services would entail a K-3 Early Grade Universal Screening and Monitoring System (EGUSMS), which would include universal screening for literacy and math, dyslexia screening, mental health screening, progress monitoring, and data organization. Pearson’s EGUSMS would also provide the online reporting tools, training resources, and technical support for educators implementing the EGUSMS tools. If all options to renew are exercised for a 5-year term, then the cost would total $12.5 million.
Schwinn justified the decision to make NCS Pearson the sole source by claiming that none of the other vendors met the state’s minimum requirements. Schwinn added that the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) hadn’t put forth a complete request for proposal (RFP) out due to the short notice and prompt need for schools to obtain these services.Read More
FRANKLIN, Tennessee – After around 1200 hours of investigation, a parent-led deep dive team uncovered how a widely-used English curriculum in Tennessee pushes narratives on history and introduces K-5 students to a range of concepts such as Critical Race Theory, suicide ideation, gender fluidity, alcoholism, promiscuity, torture, cannibalism, and more.…Read More
Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn promised to publish educator guidance on the state’s critical race theory ban by August 1. The ban was first proposed in the Tennessee General Assembly by State Representative John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge). The law itself doesn’t mention critical race theory by name, but it does address the theory’s tenets and practices at length.
Schwinn revealed the plan to issue guidance in an exclusive interview with Chalkbeat on Wednesday. The Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) guidance will also address the question of how the commissioner would uphold the ban, including a complaint evaluation process and financial penalty system. Ragan’s amendment noted that the commissioner would determine how much state funding to withhold for violations.Read More
The Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) announced that it will invest an additional $4.2 billion for K-12 schools. The federal funds will be allocated to Tennessee schools over the next 4 years, according to the TDOE press release. The funding is a combination of different types of federal emergency relief funding.
TDOE clarified that the funding will be allotted to specific programs and initiatives. $120.7 million will go toward the Tennessee Literacy Success Act and Reading 360, $170.5 million for the Tennessee Learning Loss and Student Acceleration Act, $35 million for the 2022-23 math textbook adoption process, $32 million for online resources, $32.6 million for Innovating High Schools and Advanced Courses, $17.8 million for mental health supports, $56.5 million for K-12 open-source readiness coursework and statewide professional development, and $21 million to support the educator pipeline.Read More
Tuesday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed State Rep. Mark White of Memphis to the newsmakers line to weigh in on the Department of Education’s usurpation of power and federal grants used to push critical race theory in states public education.Read More
Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn’s husband works for the company that benefited from an $8.06 million reading initiative contract.
Apparently, Commissioner Schwinn keeps it all in the family. As The Tennessee Star reported last fall, sources claimed that Schwinn imported former colleagues from Texas when she assumed her role within TDOE. They also claimed that they were subjected to hiring freezes and pressure to slash budgets, though Schwinn had no problem with maintaining the six-figure salaries for her imports.Read More
Legislators are looking to standardize Black history curriculum in grades 5 and 8, and have the state provide additional resources by 2025. The bill in question specified that fifth and eighth-grade students would learn about Black heritage, culture, experience, and the “ultimate destiny of all social, ethnic, gender and national groups and individuals, and that such are represented as interdependent, interactive, and complementary.” It also specified that the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) would provide internet resources and materials for K-12 instruction in the subject.
State Senator Katrina Robinson (D-Memphis) first introduced the bill, followed with a companion bill filed by State Representative Yusuf Hakeem (D-Chattanooga). Senate committees recommended the bill for passage with amendments. Although senators applauded the basis for the idea, they expressed concern over the fiscal impact of the bill. They also questioned the reality of schools’ ability to craft a new curriculum of that magnitude by this fall, as the bill required originally.Read More
A lawsuit alleged that Commissioner Penny Schwinn favored certain textbook vendors without merit at the expense of more qualified vendors. Textbook and educational materials publishing company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) filed the suit against the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) in November of 2019. Consequently, HMH noted that the sale of all other grade levels of reading materials offered by HMH were jeopardized, since they are designed to be implemented together from K-12 curriculum.
The Tennessee State Board of Education acted on the recommendation of an advisory panel appointed by the Textbook and Instructional Materials Quality Commission to not adopt HMH’s third grade reading material. HMH claimed that the advisory panel’s process was disrupted after Schwinn appointed Dr. Lisa Coons as TDOE Assistant Commissioner for Standards and Materials. Thereafter, HMH claimed that the panel re-reviewed and failed HMH’s material, while TDOE adopted programs offered by competitors that also received failing grades.Read More
Officials with the Tennessee Department of Education announced late last week that they will give $1 million of taxpayer money to Tennessee’s six PBS stations to help educate students throughout the state. As reported last year, several organizations, including the Family Research Council, have faulted PBS’ educational materials for what they call a left-leaning bias.Read More
Teacher raises, vacant positions and funding for school districts with decreased enrollment this school year were some of the topics discussed Tuesday as the chiefs of Tennessee’s education agencies presented their proposed budgets for the upcoming fiscal year.
Gov. Bill Lee is hearing budget presentations from each of his state agencies over the course of the week, preparing to put together a state budget proposal Lee will present to the Tennessee Legislature in his State of the State address next year.Read More