As the Tennessee General Assembly flag was lowered at the end of legislative session on May 10, lawmakers headed to far corners of Tennessee, back to their families, homes, and the Tennesseans who have elected them to lead.

For education advocates, it was another successful session. This year, SCORE, along with partners including educators, students, parents, and business and community leaders, championed policies that will move student achievement forward while cautioning against legislation that could hurt the progress that Tennessee has made.

At SCORE we know that outcomes for all Tennessee students are improved when students have great teachers, are held to high expectations, and innovation is embraced. Here is a brief recap of some of the pieces of legislation that gained passage this year. SCORE believes these new policies will continue to move Tennessee education forward and will help kids succeed.

Great Teaching:

SB 614/HB 695: Teacher Preparation Program Partnerships with K-12 Schools

Sponsored by Sen. Bo Watson and Rep. Ryan Williams

This legislation requires teacher training program faculty members to annually be involved in K-12 public schools. The legislation also requires the State Board of Education to meet annually to coordinate policy on teacher training. Finally, the legislation says that the Tennessee General Assembly expects graduates of teacher training programs to be ready to positively impact student learning.

SB 34/HB 329: HOPE Teacher Scholarships

Introduced by Sen. Lee Harris and Rep. Barbara Cooper

This legislation allows more math and science teachers to become eligible for a Tennessee HOPE teacher’s scholarship by decreasing from two years to one year the amount of time that teachers must teach in public schools.

SB 232/HB 918: Computer Science Educator License Endorsement

Sponsored by Sen. Lee Harris and Rep. David Byrd

This legislation creates a new certification in computer science for all teachers who demonstrate knowledge of computer science.

High Expectations for All Students:

SB 1196/HB 309 – Use of Assessment Data

Introduced by Sen. Mark Norris and Rep. David Hawk

This bill updates current law on assessment data for the 2017-18 school year because of the transition to the TNReady test. The legislation adjusts how TCAP results will be calculated into student’s final grades and how student growth will be calculated into teacher evaluations as Tennessee transitions to new tests. Finally, the legislation allows teachers to use only their most recent year of student growth data if it will result in higher evaluation scores.

SB 1198/HB 308: Changes to Student Accountability Measures

Introduced by Sen. Mark Norris and Rep. David Hawk

This legislation makes revisions to state accountability measures to align to Tennessee’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan. This includes revising the way that the State Board of Education and the Tennessee Department of Education determine school performance and redefining a priority school from being a school representing the bottom 5 percent of schools in overall achievement to a school in the bottom 5 percent of schools in performance.


SB 1197/HB 310: Tennessee High-Quality Charter Schools

Introduced by Sen. Mark Norris and Rep. David Hawk

This bill creates a state fund to support public charter school facilities while providing local boards of education with authorizer fees from public charter schools. This legislation also updates the Tennessee public charter school law in several places to add additional transparency and clarity.

SB 248/HB 22: Early Postsecondary Credits

Introduced by Sen. Jim Tracy and Rep. Harry Brooks

This legislation requires each school district to offer at least four early college credit courses to high school students.

SB 720/HB 980: Creates the Middle College Scholarship

Sponsored by Sen. Ken Yager and Rep. Kent Calfee

This legislation creates a scholarship program for high school students pursuing Associate Degrees through a Middle College program.

The Budget:

Finally, the 2017-18 budget will include many new investments in K-12 education. Governor Haslam’s budget proposal promised $200 million to fund the Basic Education Program (BEP), including $100 million for teacher salaries and $22 million for English Language Learners, $6 million for public charter school facilities, and $15 million for career and technical education equipment. The budget approved by the Tennessee General Assembly included an additional $660,000 for a dual credit program, $1 million for Teach for America, and a $10 million investment to improve struggling schools.