TESTING CONUNDRUM The temptation for principals to place their best teachers in grades with high-stakes testing has Education Commissioner Candice McQueen concerned about the quality of teaching in Tennessee’s earliest grades. But she thinks the state has a solution. Chalkbeat

EMPOWERMENT ZONE  In an effort to protect schools from takeover by the state-run Achievement School District, Shelby County Schools wants to make its new school turnaround effort, called the “Whitehaven Empowerment Zone,” official. The Commercial Appeal

FUNDING A Court of Appeals upholds a ruling that the judiciary system can’t demand Tennessee provide the full amount of money for schools detailed in its education funding formula. The Tennessean

PEP TALK In a letter to students, Gov. Bill Haslam tells them to do their best on TNReady testing, which started this week. Chalkbeat

CONTRACT The Shelby County Board of Education prepares to vote on whether to extend superintendent Dorsey Hopson’s contract. The Commercial Appeal

WARNING Nashville’s first-ever charter school, founded in 2002, is put on probation. The Tennessean

HIGH ACHIEVEMENT Five Middle Tennessee students are semifinalists for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. The Tennessean

DEVOS WATCH One of the nation’s largest teachers unions kicks off a campaign targeted at the Trump administration. Chalkbeat

SCHOOL BUS SAFETY A House committee advances a measure to install seat belts in school buses in light of last November’s tragic school bus crash in Chattanooga. The Associated Press

BUDGETS Even with a “slim budget,” Washington County Schools in East Tennessee is facing down a $1.4 million deficit. Johnson City Press

VOUCHERS Opinion: Knoxville columnist Frank Cagle argues that vouchers might not go to the students who need them most. The Knoxville News Sentinel