Rise & Shine: Memphis grade-changing probe hits brick wall

Good morning!

An investigation into the high rate of grade changes on transcripts at some Memphis high schools came to an anticlimactic end last night. The audit firm looking into the matter for Shelby County Schools urged leaders to abruptly halt the 10-month probe. The reason: a lack of documentation needed to determine if fraud was committed. Read the explanations.

Also, the campaign to help Tennessee children read better is seeing encouraging signs from investments in school-based summer camps. We've got the early results from the program's third year.

Happy reading!

—Marta W. Aldrich, statehouse correspondent

Rise & Shine is Chalkbeat’s morning digest of education news. Subscribe to have it delivered to your inbox, or forward to a friend who cares about public education.

GRADING PROBE  The firm hired to investigate grade changing in some Memphis high schools gives up after determining that the paperwork needed to prove misconduct is missing or does not exist in most every case. Chalkbeat, The Commercial Appeal

LIFTING LITERACY  School-based summer camps lift participants’ reading skills for a third straight year across Tennessee. Chalkbeat, The Chattanoogan

MAYORAL PRIORITIES  Nashville Mayor David Briley wants more children enrolled in pre-K programs as he shifts his administration’s focus to the fundamentals of education, safety, and prosperity. Nashville Public Radio

AT THE HELM  Sharon Gentry, who chaired Nashville’s school board until 2016, is narrowly elected to lead the nine-member governing body again. The Tennessean

CHILDHOOD TRAUMA  A statewide summit examines the connection between childhood trauma and mental health. The Tennessean

CONTRACT TALKS  Cheatham County’s school board negotiates with Director Cathy Beck for a two-year extension. The Tennessean

NOT SO FAST  A former Wilson County commissioner files an ethics complaint questioning whether the current commission properly approved funding for a new high school. The Tennessean

CONSERVATION CAMP  More than 750 fourth-graders from Kingsport, Sullivan County, and Bristol get outside to explore environmental issues. Kingsport Times-News

PAUSE  Hawkins County students honor first responders and police officers in remembrance of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Kingsport Times-News

POLITICS AS THEATER  U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s dramatic 2017 confirmation hearing has been turned into a play. The Washington Post

Extra Credit

The advocacy group Campaign for School Equity this week began its second year of student advocacy training at 10 Memphis high schools. Designed to equip students to engage on education issues, the training instructs students in advocacy, public speaking, and campaign development. Participants eventually will create their own school-based campaigns and shape the organization’s spring legislative platform. This year’s high school partners include Bluff City, Crosstown, Fairley, Hillcrest, Martin Luther King Jr. College Preparatory, Soulsville, Southwest Early College, Trezevant, and Whitehaven. (Photo courtesy of Campaign for School Equity)