Sept. 23, 2010
Tennessee Wins $36 Million Teacher Incentive Fund Grant
The Tennessee Depart-ment of Education has been awarded a $36 million grant by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Academic Improvement and Teacher Quality Programs. The Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) grant will support local efforts to improve student achievement by increasing teacher and principal effectiveness.
"This grant will help us provide our students with the effective support they need and improve the overall education climate across the state," Education Commissioner Tim Webb said. "I'm very pleased Tenn-essee will receive this funding over the next five years to develop and implement new performance-based teacher and principal compensation systems in high-need schools." More.
Sept. 16, 2010
Sept. 20, 2010
Bredesen, Webb Work to Raise Standards Awareness
Test Scores May Dip Under New, Higher Standards
Governor Phil Bredesen, Education Commissioner Tim Webb and First to the Top Coalition partners held an event in Chattanooga to raise awareness about the effects Tennessee's new and higher academic standards may have on student test scores.
This year's TCAP scores will be the first to reflect Tennessee's new, higher standards. Because the bar has been raised with more rigorous coursework, this year's scores - compared with those from previous years - are expected to show a drop-off in student proficiency in key subjects including reading and mathematics.
"Raising standards in the classroom is the most important thing we can do to make sure students are career- and college-ready," said Bredesen, who co-chairs Achieve Inc., a national org-anization committed to high standards. "But higher standards mean harder tests, and maybe lower test scores in the short term." More.
Tennessee to Receive $67.8 Million to Turn Around Persistently Lowest Achieving Schools
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced Tennessee will receive $67.8 million to turn around its persistently lowest achieving schools through the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program. These funds are part of the $3.5 billion that will be made available to states this spring from money set aside in the 2009 budget and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. More.
Sept. 15, 2010
Supplemental Grant Helps Schools Fund First to the Top Initiatives
The Tennessee Depart-ment of Education has announced that seven school systems will receive funding to encourage compensa-tion reform and enhance school turn-around strategies.
First to the Top funding allows the department to create a competitive supplemental fund totaling $1.5 million over the course of the next four years, $375,000 per year, for innovation in school districts whose share of funds is within the bottom 20 percent of total Local Education Agency First to the Top funds. More.
Sept. 8, 2010
Tennessee Names 2011 Principal, Supervisor of the Year Nominees Each year, the Department of Education awards outstanding administra-tors in education with Principal of the Year and Supervisor of the Year honors. The fol-lowing individuals have been identified by peers as demonstrating the leadership and dedica-tion desirable in eduction professionals.
Sept. 2, 2010
Race to the Top Assessment Program Grant to Benefit Tennessee
Tennessee will share in a $170 million Race to the Top Assessment Program grant announced by the U.S. Department of Education.
Twenty-six states joined together to create the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC). Florida submitted an application in June on behalf of the 26-state consortium. The funds will be used to develop common assessments aligned to common standards for what students should learn at each grade level. More.
Parents Get First Look at New Scores
In September, parents across the state began to see the results of changes Tennessee made to academic standards and proficiency levels when they received their child's Individual Profile Report, or TCAP achievement levels.
Many parents will have questions about why achievement levels may be lower than in the past. It's important to remember what these achievement levels represent and why they reflect the higher standards we all want for our students.
Tennessee adopted revised academic standards to better prepare students for the expectations of college and the workforce. During the 2009-10 school year, students completed their first year of learning and testing on those standards. The tests given in 2009-10 reflect not only revised content standards, but a much higher bar for the "proficient" and "advanced" levels of performance.
Tennessee teachers worked together to set the new proficiency targets at a level they believe indicates a student's mastery of knowledge in a subject rather than minimal understanding, as it had in the past. So students had a higher bar to meet this time.
Due to these changes, a smaller number of students are now in the proficient or advanced levels of performance. We expect to see dramatic gains in student performance on these assessments in the years to come.
Despite a dip in scores in the near term because of these changes, our students will be better prepared for success in a global economy. They will be better prepared to not only compete with their peers in Tennessee, but with their peers in high-performing nations across the world. Also, the $500 million Race to the Top grant that Tennessee won provides resources that will pay for more intensive teacher training to help students reach the standards. Districts will be able to use their share of funds to make sure that their schools are getting the support they need to help students excel.
An Open Letter to Tennesseans from Governor Phil Bredesen
Governor Phil Bredesen has written an Open Letter to Tennesseans that focuses on the state's new, higher academic standards.
Dear fellow Tennessean:
Tennessee is raising the bar for student achievement with higher academic standards in the classroom. These new higher standards will help us make sure students are ready for college or career when they graduate high school. That means not only mastering the basics like reading and math, but also developing skills that colleges and employers value - like communications, problem solving and teamwork.
But higher standards also mean harder tests, and may result in lower test scores and grades for students in the near term. This is where our education reform efforts get hard and where students, parents, educators and communities need our full support to press forward.
In 2007, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, representing America's top employers, gave Tennessee a failing grade for a lack of high standards in the classroom. We were giving graduates diplomas that implied they were ready for employment or college when many of them weren't adequately prepared.
Rather than shy away from this report or contest its findings, we responded with a full-court press to raise the bar so a high school diploma means what it should: that graduates are ready for the job or college they'll enter and their options aren't limited because they weren't provided the tools they need to succeed. More
What Impact will Race to the Top Have on Early Childhood Programs?
Last week we asked what you want to know about Tennessee First to the Top. One reader asked: "Can you provide information about the impact that Race to the Top initiatives will have on early childhood programs, specifically early childhood special education and K-3?"
All educators, including those in Pre-Kindergarten through third grade, will benefit from the intense focus on professional development and growth outlined in Tennessee's First to the Top plan. Starting next month, in partnership with Battelle for Kids, educators will have the opportunity to receive training on the use of daily formative assessment in the classroom at no cost.
The Tennessee Department of Education will also be working with the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) to provide web-based content for early learning teachers that will available through the Tennessee Electronic Learning Center.
Through the work of the Teacher Evaluation Advisory Committee, which is tasked with making recommendations around the new teacher and principal evaluation, the feasibility and options for assessments in Kindergarten through third-grade will be examined. The Department of Education is convening experts in early childhood grades to examine options for student growth measures in those grades.
Tennessee will work to expand the use of these formative assessments in order to gauge the effectiveness of the state Pre-K program in improving transitions between pre-K and kindergarten and beyond.
Race to the Top is also allowing the state to devote unprecedented resources in the area of data expansion. The state will expand access to its student early warning data system to help ensure that all educators are properly trained on use of the system to help identify factors outside of academic measurements that may influence learning.
Ask First to the Top! What do you want to know about Tennessee First to the Top? Suggest a topic for future issues. Email your ideas to: email@example.com
By Rita Davis
STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
Report from the STEM Advisory Council
The first meeting of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Advisory Council presented council members an opportunity to meet one another and obtain information about the goals and responsibilities of the council. It was also an opportunity to hear firsthand from Governor Phil Bredesen his expectations and goals for the STEM network and to hear from Battelle their plans for managing the network.
Council members were given the opportunity to ask questions of both the Governor and Battelle executives. The council members consisted of business, K-12 education, higher education, and the Tennessee Department of Education officials. Questions from the council came from the business leaders who were trying to ascertain how financially responsible Battelle's plans were for the network and in turn for Tennessee students. The questions that came from the educators dealt primarily with curriculum matters.
I believe this pattern of business leaders being primarily interested in financial matters and educators being primarily concerned with curriculum matters will continue as the council works to serve as advisors to the STEM network. It's good to have a mixture of professions on the council because each has a focus different from the others. Combined, each will ensure that the Governor's goals for STEM education will be successfully implemented so students will achieve academically in STEM areas under a program that was implemented while being financially responsible.
Governor Bredesen established the Tennessee STEM Advisory Council to advise the Department of Education and Battelle Memorial Institute on the operation of the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network. Mrs. Davis, Hume Fogg Academic High School Physics teacher and Science Department Chair, serves as a member of the Advisory Council.
TEACHER EVALUATION ADVISORY COMMITTEE UPDATE
What do TEAC's Initial Policy Recommendations Mean for Educators?
The Teacher Evaluation Advisory Committee (TEAC) voted September 2 on a set of initial policy recommendations for educator evaluations. A first reading of these policy recommendations will be presented to the State Board of Education in October.
The initial policy is in keeping with the First to the Top Act passed in January and will continue to be informed by the work of the Tennessee Department of Education as it field tests components that may be included in the new evaluation.
The TEAC will continue to meet through the Spring of 2011 to refine recommendations on the policy and model plan for implementing the evaluation. The State Board will adopt the final policy in late Spring 2011 for implementation in the 2011-12 school year.
Read the full policy recommendations.
The Tennessee Department of Education has chosen 50 school districts to participate in field testing components of the new evaluation. This research will continue to inform the work of the Department and the TEAC. The full list of schools can be found online.
First to the Top News Briefs
Scopes of Work Now Online
Tennessee's 136 individual school districts each submitted a "Scope of Work," or individual budget plan, spanning the four years of the Race to the Top grant and outlining in detail reform efforts for all schools. These plans are now available online
The Educator Community is Live!
The Tennessee Department of Education this month launched an interactive, online community for educators to exchange ideas and opinions on the state's new principal and teacher evaluation process. In partnership with Hope Street Group, more than 500 educators from across the state are now members of the online community and will be continually asked their thoughts on progress with the Teacher Evaluation Advisory Committee and desired outcomes. One of the first discussions among educators will be use of new growth measures for teachers in non-tested grades and subjects for use in the new evaluation.
Professional Development Opportunity
When educators use high-quality formative instructional practices, academic progress accelerates for all students. As part of Tennessee's First to the Top plan, the Tennessee Department of Education is pleased to invite K-12 public school district-level teams to participate in a 2-½ day Formative Instructional Practices Workshop.
Facilitated by Battelle for Kids, this professional learning opportunity is available at no cost as part of First to the Top. For more information or to register, visit the Tennessee Student Progress Portal at www.BattelleforKids.org/Tennessee
. Click on the "Events" tab and register on the Training Sessions
page. Participation is available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Information is also available on the Tennessee Department of Education Electronic Learning Center
|First to the Top is Tennessee's initiative to improve education through the federal Race to the Top program.
For more information, contact:
Amanda Anderson, Director of Communications
Tennessee Department of Education