How should we con­tin­ue strength­en­ing ways to mea­sure stu­dent pro­gress toward meet­ing state aca­d­e­mic stan­dards?

Over the last sev­er­al years, Ten­nessee has made great pro­gress toward high­er stan­dards and aligned assess­ments. The state should con­tin­ue on the path to imple­ment­ing TNReady and oth­er high qual­i­ty assess­ments. The state should ensure that 2015–16 is the only year in which edu­ca­tors, schools, and dis­tricts are not held account­able for stu­dent per­for­mance.


How could we strength­en the cur­rent state assess­ment sys­tem?


Ten­nessee should ful­ly imple­ment TNReady and should avoid addi­tion­al changes to assess­ments for the next sev­er­al years. The state should ensure that schools and dis­tricts are account­able for the per­for­mance of all stu­dents. This includes requir­ing schools to test all stu­dents through enforce­ment of the 95 per­cent par­tic­i­pa­tion rule and clear con­se­quences for fail­ure to meet this require­ment for one or more groups of stu­dents. In addi­tion, the state should not allow opt-out of assess­ments.



Given that Tennessee’s dis­trict account­abil­i­ty sys­tem is new, how might we strength­en it?


The state must hold dis­tricts account­able for under­per­form­ing sub­groups and estab­lish clear met­rics and report­ing. The state should strength­en sup­ports for ELs and must iden­ti­fy long-term ELs, with sup­ports and inter­ven­tions for schools who con­tin­ue to have long-term ELs. ELs must be test­ed year­ly for pro­fi­cien­cy and growth and count in the account­abil­i­ty sys­tem in their third year. The depart­ment should estab­lish a clear def­i­n­i­tion of a sub­group for pur­pos­es of dis­ag­gre­ga­tion in report­ing.

What oth­er sys­tem qual­i­ty mea­sure might you include in the dis­trict account­abil­i­ty frame­work?

The depart­ment should con­sid­er addi­tion­al indi­ca­tors that are high­ly cor­re­lat­ed with aca­d­e­mic suc­cess and that are focused on stu­dent out­comes, aligned with post­sec­ondary readi­ness, car­ry the weight of account­abil­i­ty, and do not not rein­forces issues relat­ed to pover­ty. Indi­ca­tors must be mea­sur­able, in that the indi­ca­tor is valid, reli­able and sta­ble. It must uti­lize evi­dence that demon­strates how it will pos­i­tive­ly impact stu­dent out­comes, and ensure dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion between schools.

What mea­sures of school qual­i­ty or stu­dent suc­cess should be includ­ed in the school account­abil­i­ty frame­work?


Mea­sures should demon­strate post-sec­ondary readi­ness. The depart­ment should hold schools account­able for the per­for­mance of as many stu­dents as pos­si­ble, includ­ing small sub­groups of stu­dents. The depart­ment should reduce the required N size below 30 stu­dents. Schools should be required to have goals for each sub­group rather than only decreas­ing gaps with­in a school. A school should be unable to receive a high rat­ing if a sub­group is con­sis­tent­ly under­per­form­ing for two+ con­sec­u­tive years.

School Improve­ment

How can the depart­ment sup­port the use of evi­dence-based strate­gies for school turn­arounds in a way that both pro­vides dis­tricts with struc­ture and guide­li­nes while pro­vid­ing them as much flex­i­bil­i­ty as pos­si­ble?

State, dis­trict and school per­son­nel should be allowed to sub­mit strate­gies to a state-lev­el “what works” com­pendi­um for school turn­around. The­se strate­gies, which are informed by school need, avail­able resource and sup­port, should be adopt­ed by the school staff and be aligned to inter­im and long-term goals. Schools must show pro­gress toward goals and demon­strate con­nec­tions between pro­gress and the adopt­ed strate­gies.

Ten­nessee also has the option to provide some or all turn­around ser­vices via a statewide sys­tem of sup­port. What do dis­trict and schools most need from a statewide turn­around sup­port sys­tem?

Schools and dis­tricts need speci­fic strate­gies, offered through embed­ded train­ings and in-per­son assis­tance occur­ring as close to the group of stu­dents need­ing assis­tance as pos­si­ble. The state should iden­ti­fy best prac­tices in high per­form­ing schools and schools with high per­form­ing sub­groups of stu­dents and share those prac­tices with the speci­fic imple­men­ta­tion strate­gies that edu­ca­tors need in class­rooms. Turn­around schools need addi­tion­al time for teacher devel­op­ment and train­ing.


Sup­port for all stu­dents

How should the state’s account­abil­i­ty and edu­ca­tion sys­tems, par­tic­u­lar­ly at the school lev­el, fac­tor in Eng­lish lan­guage pro­fi­cien­cy? For exam­ple, what should be the entry and exit cri­te­ria for Eng­lish learn­ers, sup­ports that should be offered for Eng­lish learn­ers, and report­ing require­ments?

The state should annu­al­ly mea­sure and hold schools and dis­tricts account­able for the com­bi­na­tion of time to pro­fi­cien­cy, the lev­el of pro­fi­cien­cy, and the lev­el of achieve­ment in read­ing and math. The state should elect the option that does not hold schools ful­ly account­able for EL stu­dents until year 3 of test­ing. TN should estab­lish a time­line for pro­fi­cien­cy of 5 years and cre­ate a sys­tem to mon­i­tor and inter­vene in schools with long-term ELs.


How can Ten­nessee best sup­port a well-round­ed edu­ca­tion with­in the require­ments of the law? For exam­ple, how should Tennessee’s account­abil­i­ty and edu­ca­tion sys­tems take into account pro­vid­ing a healthy and safe school envi­ron­ment or inte­gra­tion of tech­nol­o­gy?

 The State should use whole school cli­mate sur­veys for stu­dents and teach­ers that are reli­able, and anony­mous. Schools should have estab­lished phys­i­cal health goals and whole school strate­gies to reach those goals. Schools and dis­tricts must have com­pre­hen­sive tech­nol­o­gy plans devel­oped by staff and com­mu­ni­ty part­ners, and provide train­ing and sup­port to teach­ers in order to uti­lize tech­nol­o­gy in instruc­tion.

How should our state encour­age equi­table access to high­ly effec­tive teach­ers for all stu­dents?


The state should imple­ment the Teacher Equi­ty Plan that was devel­oped in 2015, and set ambi­tious tar­gets and time­line. The depart­ment should hold dis­tricts account­able for the equi­table dis­tri­b­u­tion of high qual­i­ty teach­ers with­in and across schools by includ­ing a mea­sure of equi­table dis­tri­b­u­tion with­in the dis­trict account­abil­i­ty sys­tem. The depart­ment should also attempt to mea­sure and report on the diver­si­ty of teach­ers and rela­tion­ship to stu­dent diver­si­ty.


Which, if any, inno­v­a­tive ESSA pro­grams should Ten­nessee con­sid­er? (e.g. the inno­v­a­tive assess­ment pilot, stu­dent-based bud­get­ing, teacher and school lead­er prepa­ra­tion acad­e­mies, or oth­ers)

The depart­ment should main­tain focus on suc­cess with­in the cur­rent frame­work for assess­ment. The state should not adopt a nation­al end of course test for high school stu­dents. The depart­ment should pilot stu­dent-based budet­ing in schools and dis­tricts inter­est­ed in par­tic­i­pat­ing and move toward a full sys­tem of stu­dent based bud­get­ing with­in five years. The state should opt to estab­lish fam­i­ly resource cen­ters, and uti­lize fund­ing to part­ner with com­mu­ni­ty orga­ni­za­tions that sup­port fam­i­lies.

What do you like most about Tennessee’s schools?

At your dis­cre­tion.

Do you have any addi­tion­al input for Tennessee’s ESSA plan?

The state should report more than per pupil fund­ing as the only met­ric for resource inequal­i­ty. The state should mea­sure and report on resource inequal­i­ty across dis­tricts, with­in dis­tricts, and between groups of stu­dents with­in dis­tricts and schools. The­se resources should include mea­sures of effec­tive teach­ing and lead­er­ship, time spent in class, and access to rig­or­ous course­work. This infor­ma­tion must be dis­ag­gre­gat­ed by race, eth­nic­i­ty, lan­guage and dis­abil­i­ty sta­tus, and income.