10 Things You Should Know About Tennessee’s New Report Cards for School and Districts

The Ten­nessee Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion has released a new online report card to share school and dis­trict rat­ings, as well as infor­ma­tion on how to under­stand the new rat­ings sys­tem. This valu­able tool gives fam­i­lies, com­mu­ni­ties, and edu­ca­tors infor­ma­tion on how well schools are prepar­ing all stu­dents for suc­cess, based on the new mea­sures in the ESSA state plan. As you get acquaint­ed with the new rat­ings sys­tem, here are 10 impor­tant ques­tions to con­sid­er:

  1. Why does Ten­nessee have a new school and dis­trict rat­ing sys­tem?
    Begin­ning in Decem­ber 2018, a new fed­er­al law, the Every Stu­dent Suc­ceeds Act (ESSA) requires states to eval­u­ate every K-12 school on a range of mea­sures. Learn more about ESSA and what goes into Tennessee’s rat­ing sys­tem for schools here
  2. Why is it impor­tant to mea­sure how schools and dis­tricts are per­form­ing
    Account­abil­i­ty sys­tems define and set expec­ta­tions for school and dis­trict suc­cess, and can serve as a tool for improv­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty and achieve­ment for all stu­dents by high­light­ing schools that are exceed­ing expec­ta­tions, but also prompt­ing action when schools or stu­dents fall behind.
  3. How is each school rat­ed?
    Each school receives a rat­ing, rang­ing from 0 to 4, on a range of mea­sures.  You can think of this rat­ing like a GPA, with a 4.0 being the high­est score. But just like a GPA, the con­text is important—no school can be judged on a sin­gle num­ber. Each rat­ing is based either on how well the school is doing on that par­tic­u­lar mea­sure, or how much it improved in the past year. The school’s rat­ing is based on the high­er score between the two. Schools will not receive a sum­ma­tive rat­ing, or a total score that com­bi­nes all of the rat­ings togeth­er.
  4. Weren’t schools sup­posed to receive and A-F let­ter grade this year?
    The Ten­nessee Gen­er­al Assem­bly pro­hib­it­ed the assign­ing of A-F let­ter grades for the 2017–18 school year because of the online admin­is­tra­tion chal­lenges this year with TNReady test­ing. They placed a one year pause on the use of A-F let­ter grades to rate schools.
  5. Which mea­sures receive rat­ings?
    Schools are rat­ed on the fol­low­ing mea­sures: aca­d­e­mic achieve­ment in Eng­lish, Math­e­mat­ics, Sci­ence and Social Stud­ies, stu­dent aca­d­e­mic growth over time, rates of chron­ic absen­teeism (Chron­i­cal­ly Out of School), stu­dent pro­gress on Eng­lish lan­guage pro­fi­cien­cy, grad­u­a­tion rates, and how well stu­dents are pre­pared for post­sec­ondary oppor­tu­ni­ties (Ready Grad­u­ate). Rat­ing sys­tems can provide a range of infor­ma­tion but do not tell us the entire sto­ry of how well a school is per­form­ing.
  6. What addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion can I find out about my school or dis­trict with the new State Report Card?
    The new state report card has infor­ma­tion on each mea­sure about how a school com­pares to its dis­trict as well as schools across Ten­nessee. There is also infor­ma­tion on the num­ber of stu­dents and teach­ers in every school, the demo­graph­ics of the stu­dent body, and in the future you will be able to see infor­ma­tion on how fund­ing is allo­cat­ed in the school or dis­trict. Soon, the report card will also be avail­able in Span­ish.
  7. What should I do if my school earns low rat­ings in one or more cat­e­gories?
    The infor­ma­tion con­tained in the report card pro­vides Ten­nesseans with an oppor­tu­ni­ty to have a con­ver­sa­tion with their school prin­ci­pal and teach­ers, and to find out what the school is doing to improve, and how par­ents or part­ners can help. Fam­i­lies can offer to serve on school improve­ment teams, or to provide input through par­ent meet­ings.
  8. Why does the new rat­ing sys­tem provide infor­ma­tion about speci­fic stu­dent groups
    The fed­er­al ESSA law, as well as the Ten­nessee ESSA Plan, requires schools and dis­tricts to report how speci­fic groups of stu­dents are per­form­ing at their schools. The­se groups include stu­dents who are eco­nom­i­cal­ly dis­ad­van­taged, stu­dents who are Black, His­pan­ic or Native Amer­i­can, stu­dents who are learn­ing Eng­lish, and stu­dents who have a dis­abil­i­ty. Break­ing out, or dis­ag­gre­gat­ing, their pro­gress on each mea­sure allows schools and fam­i­lies the oppor­tu­ni­ty see how well all stu­dents are per­form­ing, iden­ti­fy gaps, and work to reduce or elim­i­nate them.
  9. How long will my school or dis­trict main­tain the­se rat­ings?
    The Ten­nessee Report Cards will be updat­ed every year with new data, and will incor­po­rate new mea­sures in the com­ing years. The rat­ings will change every year, so it will be impor­tant to vis­it the report card page annu­al­ly.
  10. Where can I learn more about my school or dis­trict report card?
    The Ten­nessee Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion has more infor­ma­tion about the report cards on their web­site, and our Equi­ty Coali­tion will host a webi­nar on the report cards and what they mean for schools, stu­dents and fam­i­lies. You can reg­is­ter to attend the webi­nar, or watch a record­ing at a time of your con­ve­nience.




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