ASD Tennessee is making big changes to the way it addresses its lowest-performing schools, with big implications for its pioneering state turnaround district — and for the local urban districts where struggling schools are concentrated. Chalkbeat

TNREADY GUIDE Tennessee soon will release district- and school-level scores from the state’s new, and supposedly harder, standardized test. And for many, the results will be grim. Chalkbeat

NASHVILLE RISE An education group backed by former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean has tapped a community organizer from a national black advocacy group to spearhead its parent engagement efforts in Nashville. Chalkbeat

BIG PAY OFF Investing in high-quality preschool can give a 13 percent return on investment in the long run, a new study finds. Chalkbeat, Memphis Public Radio

DEMERGER Signal Mountain town council votes to form a committee tasked with investigating the viability of the town breaking off of Hamilton County’s school system. Chattanooga Times Free Press

NEW MONEY The Collierville Education Foundation announced it’s giving $22,000, for a classroom lab at Collierville Middle School that focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or STEM. The Commercial Appeal

BEYOND HIGH SCHOOL Hamilton County’s Mechatronics Akademie, based at Chattanooga’s VW assembly plant, is mixing academic courses and industry training and is set to expand to include 100 high school juniors. Chattanooga Times Free Press

CAREER READY Dade County High School students might start punching in at a local manufacturing plant as part of their education. Chattanooga Times Free Press

FUNDING FACILITIES Sullivan County Commission approves $140 million in bonds to its three school systems for major building projects. Kingsport Times-News

REPURPOSE Erwin leaders unanimously approve rezoning neglected school land to be converted into condos. Johnson City Press

REMEMBERING Outpouring of support for Shelby County Schools music teacher killed in a home invasion. WREG-TV

GLOBAL SOCIETY Greene County high school exchange students celebrate Christmas with their host families. The Greeneville Sun

NEW LEADER Bethany Pope becomes chair of Maryville School Board. The Daily Times

SEASON OF GIVING In a week, Sevier County students collect $1,078.73 in change to donate to local animal shelter. The Daily Times