Rise & Shine: Memphis turnaround leader to guide Achievement School District

Good morning!

After more than a week of testing upheaval, Tennessee and its embattled education chief scored a big win yesterday. The state named Memphian Sharon Griffin — considered a rock star in school improvement circles — to oversee both the Achievement School District and Tennessee's other school turnaround work. The surprise announcement by Commissioner Candice McQueen ends a seven-month search that, only a month ago, appeared to be at a dead end. And her choice was greeted with a chorus of cheers, albeit perhaps at the expense of Shelby County Schools, where Griffin has been a force for years.

Also, here's your official reminder: Our Memphis reporting team will hold Chalkbeat's monthly "office hours" this afternoon beginning at 4 o'clock in our midtown office. Come meet us and share your ideas. Details here. 

—Marta W. Aldrich, statehouse correspondent

TURNAROUND TITAN  “I can’t wait to get started,” says Shelby County Schools chief Sharon Griffin on leading Tennessee’s Achievement School District. Chalkbeat, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis Daily News, WREG

SCHOOL MERGER  Two Memphis schools will combine into one K-8 school under a plan approved by Shelby County’s school board. Chalkbeat, The Commercial Appeal

STUDENT ACTIVISTS  A group of Memphis students presents a list of school safety requests to the school board for Tennessee’s largest district. Chalkbeat, Local Memphis, The Commercial Appeal

PRE-K QUALITY  Tennessee’s pre-K programs need consistent monitoring and more rigor to get better, according to a new national report. Chalkbeat

TNREADY REVIEW  Top Republican lawmakers request a review of the TNReady student testing system by the state’s chief internal investigator. The Tennessean, The Chattanoogan, WBIR

WOODMORE CRASH  The school bus driver in the 2016 crash that killed six youngsters gets four years in prison. Times Free Press, WCYB

LEGAL EAGLE  A special attorney for Hamilton County Schools will get a monthly retainer fee of $20,000. Times Free Press

SPORTS SAFETY  All 14 Hamilton County high schools will get an athletic trainer under a newly inked contract with Erlanger Health Systems. Times Free Press

SPENDING REVIEW  Nashville’s school board likely won’t take action until later this year on a review of policies concerning district spending. The Tennessean

MIKE LOONEY  Williamson County’s school director plans to return to work next week after a month-long medical leave. The Tennessean

TNREADY SCORES  While the state has softened the weight of this year’s TNReady results, Maury County’s superintendent says the state’s standardized test scores still will be monitored and schools held accountable. Columbia Daily Herald

STEM LEADERSHIP  A Sumner County educator wins a statewide Excellence in STEM Leadership Award. The Tennessean

IN THE RUNNING  Students from a Hamilton County high school advance in a national competition of footwear designs for shoemaker Vans. Times Free Press

VOUCHING FOR VOUCHERS  Louisiana vouchers have led to big drops in test scores, but they also might boost college enrollment, according to a new study. Chalkbeat