Rise & Shine: Three things you should know as Tennessee heads back to class

Good morning!

From new leaders at the statehouse and Tennessee’s largest districts, to an uncertain future for the state’s turnaround district, and yet another change in testing – there are a lot of important details to keep track of as a new school year begins.

And the stakes are high in Tennessee...

  • The state wants 75% of its third-graders reading on grade level by 2025 — a big lift from the 37% currently at that threshold.
  • It has come under fire because its state-run turnaround district has not been as successful as hoped, much like other turnaround districts in the nation.
  • Its testing program has been a work in progress for three years as the state struggles to transition to an online system.

We're glad you're keeping track of the big storylines with us. Read up here...and let us know what education issues you will be watching this fall.

Happy reading,

-Caroline Bauman, community editor

BACK2SCHOOL Now that summer break is officially over for Tennessee, we have a little bit of homework for you. Catch up on three of the big stories affecting Tennessee schools – and let us know what we’re missing. Chalkbeat

Community dedication highlighted on Memphis students’ first days of school. The Commercial Appeal

Leader Joris Ray calls lagging literacy rates the biggest challenge as Shelby County students head back to school. WMC

Here are sounds and scenes from the first day of classes in Shelby County. The Commercial Appeal, Fox13 Memphis, WREG

Shelby County Schools is testing out an app that uses GPS for parents to track their child’s bus as school begins. WMC

Nashville families rush to get immunizations before the school district’s deadline. The Tennessean

MORE FUNDING Sullivan County school system employees won’t be footing the bill for mandatory background checks every five years, thanks to a unanimous vote from the school board. Kingsport Times-News

TEACHER SPOTLIGHT A Bradley County robotics teacher gets statewide attention. Times Free Press

SCHOOL LUNCH This fall, U.S. school cafeterias are expecting shipments of free food courtesy of President Donald Trump’s trade disputes. The products are coming from the Department of Agriculture, which is giving away the $1.2 billion in foods it’s buying to help farmers hurt by trade negotiations. The Associated Press

SCHOOL SAFETY News outlets report two former students are accused of breaking into their Tennessee high school and stealing an assault weapon and bulletproof vests from the resource officer’s gun safe. The Associated Press

Extra Credit

Here’s a scene from Memphis’ first day of classes. Do you have any back-to-school photos you’re excited to share? Ship them over to tn.tips@chalkbeat.org

Kindergarten students in Brandy Maclin’s class practice their morning routine on the first day of school at Delano Optional Elementary in Shelby County.