Tennessee

Rise & Shine: It’s time for academic gains, says Sharon Griffin, leader of Achievement School District

Good morning!

After seven years in existence, it's time to see academic gains, says Sharon Griffin, chief of the state's Achievement School District. “The life of the ASD is at stake. We either fix it and show improvement or it’s not going to exist," Griffin told parents in Memphis this week.

That's a bold declaration from Griffin, who took over the turnaround district almost a year ago. Just 3.7 percent of high school students and 12.5 percent of third and fourth graders in the achievement district are scoring on grade level on state tests. With those sobering statistics in mind, Griffin outlined three interventions she believes will save the district: more accountability for charter school operators, certified teachers in every class and more effective teachers in grades K-2.

In other news, we've been following developments in the governor's proposal to launch an education savings account program. But what's the difference between these ESAs and traditional vouchers that have been proposed in Tennessee for years? Here are the differences.

Have a great weekend!

— Jacinthia Jones, bureau chief

ACHIEVEMENT SCHOOL DISTRICT Sharon Griffin, chief of the Achievement School District, wants to hold the state’s charter schools more accountable for improving student performance, put a certified teacher in every classroom, and ensure her strongest teachers are in pre-K through 2nd grade. Chalkbeat

VOUCHER DIFFERENCES The introduction of education savings accounts in the Tennessee legislature has raised some questions about the differences between the savings accounts and state-funded vouchers for private school tuition. Chalkbeat

BUDGET PREVIEW A preliminary budget from Superintendent Joris Ray for the 2019-20 school year proposed about $51 million less than the $1.09 billion budget that was approved for the current school year. The Commercial Appeal

SCHOOL GRANTS Shelby County Schools has received a $1 million grant that will create several community schools. WMC-TV

Sullivan County Schools have won 11 mini grants totaling $61,000 and will be used to buy everything from a telescope and computers to music equipment and software. Kingsport Times-News 

COMMUNITY REACTION Leaders predominantly from Nashville’s black community rallied in support of Metro schools’ superintendent Shawn Joseph, saying he has improved the city’s school system for poor and minority students. The Tennessean

The controversy over Nashville’s first African-American director of schools is dividing the city’s black community. WTVF

VIDEO TRAINING Emails from the Williamson County Republican Party claim a series of teacher training videos aimed at improving inclusion are an “indoctrination of teachers and students.” The Tennessean

EDUCATION POLL A survey of Chattanooga and Hamilton County leaders shows sharp divisions on Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s proposals for a school voucher plan and for granting the state greater authority in approving charter school applications. Chattanooga Times Free Press