With the COVID-19 outbreak threatening the safety and health of Tennesseans, Governor Bill Lee declared a state of emergency in Tennessee on March 12. In the days and weeks that followed, school districts closed their buildings and postsecondary institutions shifted to online learning for the foreseeable future.

COVID-19 has disrupted every area of life for Tennesseans, and education is certainly no exception. To keep you informed on how the ongoing crisis is impacting education in Tennessee, the SCORE team launched the COVID-19 Impact Memo series at the beginning of May. In the weeks ahead, we will release more memos that dive deeper into education issues close to SCORE’s mission, explore potential responses, and present student-centered solutions.

We know that education has been disrupted at all levels as COVID-19 continues to affect Tennessee. In this series, we focus on how this disruption affects Tennessee students in several key areas.

After an interrupted student teaching experience, prospective teachers will enter the classroom with less preparation.

  • In the first installment of the series, we examine how teacher preparation and licensure is affected by COVID-19 and provide proven strategies that support first-time teachers who may enter the classroom with limited experience.

Student learning has been disrupted at all levels, from K-12 instruction to the academic support in the transition between high school and postsecondary.

  • Many school districts are offering distance learning options for students, but broadband access for Tennesseans is inequitable. The SCORE team will draw attention to how COVID-19 and the digital divide impact student learning.
  • Additionally, summer bridge programs – offered to prospective college students between the senior year of high school and freshman year of college – have been disrupted. Our memo will document how some summer bridge programs are adapting to this “new normal” and offer student-centered solutions for moving forward.

As the economy begins to recede, strained financial resources have meaningful implications for students.

  • Tennessee revenue is falling short of projections, and these strained state and local resources limit the funds school districts receive. The SCORE team examines the impact of COVID-19 on K-12 school finance and offers guidance to school districts for the months and years ahead.
  • The economic downturn can also have implications for Tennessee’s financial aid programs, funded through the lottery. We look at how the Great Recession affected education lottery scholarships and highlight key state laws in place to continue supporting students attending college during uncertain economic times.

Additionally, significant policy changes have occurred across the state to address emerging problems during the COVID-19 crisis.

  • With the outbreak of COVID-19, state policymakers, higher education systems, and institutions have made emergency changes to existing policies and rules in the interest of students. In a pair of memos, the SCORE team will offer an overview of significant policy changes in K-12 and postsecondary education.

In these times of uncertainty, we know that education opportunity – a high-quality K-12 education, a postsecondary credential, and economic independence – is more important than ever. Whether you’re a student, parent, practitioner, or policymaker, the SCORE team hopes you find these memos useful and helpful to navigating the road ahead.    

Bryce Warden is SCORE’s senior postsecondary policy analyst.