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Making the grade: Tennessee about to give schools A through F rating, but questions remain

  From NewsChannel 9: It will be report card time soon in Tennessee. But these report cards will be for schools, not for students. &nbs


From NewsChannel 9: It will be report card time soon in Tennessee. But these report cards will be for schools, not for students.


The state is finally rolling out a new plan passed into law in 2016, but delayed for years, in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Each school in Tennessee will be getting a letter grade: A, B, C, D or F.


The new school grades will go out with the annual Tennessee Department of Education report card.


Check out a Thursday presentation made to the State Board of Education below:


Right now, school performance is rated on a scale of 1-4, with 4 being the highest, for categories like achievement, growth, absenteeism, graduation rates and other factors.


“The big takeaway that for people is that you’re seeing a big emphasis by the state on achievement, which traditionally it has been both achievement and growth,” says JC Bowman, Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee.

The new calculation includes four separate indicators—achievement, growth, a subgroup of the lowest performing 25%, and college and career readiness—with varying weights for elementary, middle, and high school students.


For the weights, elementary schools will have 50% weighted for achievement, 40% for growth, and 10% for the subgroup of the lowest performing 25% of students.


This weighting will remain the same for middle schools, however high schools are slightly different. Achievement will be weighted at 50%, growth will be weighted at 30%, the subgroup of the lowest performing 25% of students will be weighted at 10%, and college & career readiness will be weighted at 10%.


“Are we assigning them to a failure mode, or should there be a different scale for an F school?” a Tennessee Board of Education member asked in a meeting about the grading scale.


This new grading system will also have an impact on more than just schools


“When people start putting grades on your school, and they come out, and when you start looking to buy a house, realtors are gonna say, ‘look, this isn’t a good school.’ It’s just gonna become a selling point,” says Bowman.

Mary Batiwalla, a former assistant commissioner for the Tennessee Board of Education, says…


“We know students who have more credits going into college are more likely to graduate on time and enter the workforce. So there are definitely larger economic implications of this system.”

The Tennessee Department of Education held a series of town halls earlier this year, including in Chattanooga.


At the August forum at the East Brainerd Annex, Jeanette Omarkhail with the Hamilton County Education Association addressed the school board about the picture it paints for our schools.


“These are not an accurate depiction of our schools,” says Omarkhail. “This will only give a false narrative.”

The grades are expected to be released some time this month.