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Project: Supporting Strategic Communications: Communicating About the A-F School Grading System



TDOE emphasized the importance of communicating key information about state priorities, such as those included in Tennessee’s ESSA Plan. In addition to stakeholder engagement in decision-making related to Tennessee’s ESSA plan, there are expectations for implementation monitoring and continuous improvement in state outcomes related to federal programs that include:

  • Title I, Part A: Improving Basic Programs
  • Title I, Part C: Education of Migratory Children
  • Title I, Part D: Prevention and Intervention Program for Children and Youth Who Are Neglected, Delinquent, or at-risk
  • Title II, Part A: Supporting Effective Instruction
  • Title III, Part A: Language Instruction for English Learners and Immigrant Students
  • Title IV: Student Support and Academic Enrichment
  • Title V, Part B: Rural Education Achievement Program

High-Leverage Problem

As part of ongoing implementation of its ESSA Plan, TDOE is preparing to launch a comprehensive school grading system. The annual report card for each school in a Tennessee district will include a letter grade ranging from A to F, based on student achievement data and other key factors (e.g., absenteeism) (Tennessee Department of Education, 2018). TDOE identified several areas in which the Region 5 CC team can help build TDOE’s human, organizational, and resource capacity. 

Approach to Capacity Building Services

TDOE requested technical assistance in building capacity to:

  • Help stakeholders interpret information about school grades, understand how grades were calculated, and communicate accurate information to stakeholders.
  • Provide stakeholders with easily interpretable information that can be used to make data-driven decisions.
  • Help TDOE explain how schools can use the new A-F system in positive ways to accelerate school improvement and student achievement.
  • Develop and disseminate tools and/or resources that are tailored to targeted audiences (e.g., explaining benefits of the new A-F system for parents, students, teachers, etc.).