The TN edu. community and other civil rights groups will help to form TN’s transition to ESSA

NASHVILLE – A diverse set of education stakeholders will inform the new state plan and collaborate to ensure that Tennessee’s key education policies are best for Tennessee students, the Tennessee Department of Education announced today. This work will build on the department’s strategic plan, called Tennessee Succeeds, which outlines the priorities and strategies the department is undertaking to ensure that every child is successfully able to pursue his or her chosen path in life after high school.
To strengthen that vision, several district leaders and teachers from the education community, as well as other civil rights and advocacy groups, will help to form the transition plan for the new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). While most of Tennessee’s existing laws and practices are already in line with what is required under ESSA, the new law provides the department an opportunity to engage with Tennessee’s education community on specific state and local policies to ensure that every child has the opportunity to receive a world-class education.

“Tennessee’s schools and students have made tremendous strides over the past few years to become the fastest improving state in the nation,” Education Commissioner Candice McQueen said. “We want to build on this progress while continuously looking for opportunities to improve. We believe bringing a broad set of perspectives into that conversation—and ultimately keeping students at the center of every decision—will help us refine and capitalize on what is working. We’re grateful for the role these stakeholders will serve in building on our solid foundation and helping to achieve our shared vision and goals for students’ success.”

As part of today’s announcement, the department established six working groups that will focus on the state’s key policies in specific areas: standards and assessment, accountability, support for English learners, educator support and effectiveness, school improvement, and student support. Each working group will be led by two senior state education officials and consist of roughly 10 leaders from different education communities and school districts. The full list is below. Working groups begin meeting in early July and will continue to work through the summer to provide input on the ESSA transition plan. Additionally, members of the working groups are encouraged to collaborate within their individual communities to get additional feedback and ideas.

Last month, the Tennessee Department of Education launched a new listening tour to gather feedback from educators and stakeholders across the state related to key components of ESSA, as well as a website where the public can provide input. As part of that listening tour, the department will hear from teachers and principals, district officials, parents, students, members of the business community, civil rights and student advocates, organizations that support English learners, foundations, and community organizations, among others. Feedback will be given to the working groups to help draft the plan.

This fall, the department will share the draft of the ESSA transition plan for further public feedback, and the plan will be finalized and sent to the U.S. Department of Education next spring for approval. All provisions of ESSA will go into effect in August 2017. The department will continue to work with the State Board of Education and the Tennessee General Assembly to implement the new law. ESSA replaces the previous federal education law, commonly referred to as No Child Left Behind. Tennessee has had a waiver from No Child Left Behind since 2012, which better enabled the state to make local decisions for Tennessee’s schools and students.

List of working group leads and members:

Standards and Assessment
State leads:
Laura Encalade, Director of Policy and Research, State Board of Education
Nate Schwartz, Chief Research and Strategy Officer, Tennessee Department of Education
Working group members:
Tracey Beckendorf-Edou, Executive Director of Teaching and Learning, Oak Ridge Schools
Michael Cohen, President, Achieve
Patricia Griggs-Merriweather, Principal, Sheffield Elementary, Shelby County Schools
Brad Leon, Chief of Strategy and Innovation, Shelby County Schools
Cindy Massaro, Parent, Rutherford County Schools
Mary Cypress Metz, Chief of Staff, State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE)
Philip Oldham, President, Tennessee Technological University
Eddie Pruett, Director of Schools, Gibson County Special School District
Robert Sharpe, Assistant Superintendent, Hamilton County Schools
Cathy Whitehead, Third Grade Teacher and 2015-16 Tennessee Teacher of the Year, West Chester Elementary School, Chester County School System
Maria Zapata, Family Engagement Manager, Conexión Américas

State leads:

Mary Batiwalla, Executive Director of Accountability, Tennessee Department of Education
Nakia Towns, Assistant Commissioner of Data and Research, Tennessee Department of Education
Working group members:
Lyle Ailshie, Director of Schools, Kingsport City Schools
Ashley Aldridge, Principal, Jack Anderson Elementary School, Sumner County Schools
Dawn Bradley, Special Education Supervisor, Wilson County Schools
Maya Bugg, Chief Executive Officer, Tennessee Charter School Center
Karla Coleman Garcia, Policy Manager, Conexión Américas
Corey Kelly, Principal, Sherwood Middle School, Shelby County Schools
Shawn Kimble, Director of Schools, Lauderdale County Department of Education
Phyllis Nichols, President and Chief Executive Officer, Knoxville Area Urban League
Sharon Roberts, Chief Strategy Officer, State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE)
Clint Sattler, Supervisor of Research and Evaluation, Knox County Schools
Ronald Woodard, Principal, Maplewood High School, Metro Nashville Public Schools
Daniel Zavala, State Policy Director, StudentsFirst Tennessee

Support for English Learners
State leads:

Jan Lanier, Director of English Learner, Immigrant, and Migrant Programs, Tennessee Department of Education
Joann Runion, Coordinator of English Learner Instruction and Intervention, Tennessee Department of Education
Working group members:
Eben Cathey, Advocacy Director, Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC)
Laura Delgado, Program Director for Increasing Teacher Diversity, Lipscomb University
Nona Hall, Title III Director, Rutherford County Schools
Dale Lynch, Director of Schools, Hamblen County Department of Education
Gini Pupo-Walker, Senior Director of Education Policy and Strategic Growth, Conexión Américas
Angela Rood, ESL Teacher and Interventionist, Dyersburg City Schools and Board Member for Tennessee Teachers of Speakers of Other Languages (TNTESOL)
Sarah Sandefur, Associate Professor in the School of Education, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Dana Siegel, ESL Teacher, Sycamore Elementary School, Collierville Schools
Samantha Singer, English Teacher and Chair of the English Department, John Overton High School, Metro Nashville Public Schools
Kevin Stacy, Executive Director of the Office of English Learners, Metro Nashville Public Schools

Educator Support and Effectiveness
State leads:

Paul Fleming, Assistant Commissioner of Teachers and Leaders, Tennessee Department of Education
Sylvia Flowers, Executive Director of Educator Talent, Tennessee Department of Education
Working group members:
Kasar Abdulla, Director of Community Relations, Valor Collegiate Academies, Metro Nashville Public Schools
Robert Blair, President, Greater Nashville Alliance of Black School Educators
Bethany Bowman, Director of Professional Learning, Professional Educators of Tennessee
Tim Haney, Principal, Peabody High School, Trenton Special School District
Mark Hogan, Professor and Education Department Chair, Belmont University
Jeanine Johnson, Chief Human Resources Officer, Clarksville-Montgomery County School System
Chris Marczak, Director of Schools, Maury County Public Schools
Bill O’Donnell, Coordinator of Instructional Advocacy, Tennessee Education Association
Heidi Ramirez, Chief Academic Officer, Shelby County Schools
Shannon Streett, Sixth Grade English and Science Teacher, Woodbury Grammar School, Cannon County School District
Mike Winstead, Director of Schools, Maryville City Schools

School Improvement
State leads:

Malika Anderson, Superintendent, Achievement School District
Rita Fentress, Director of School Improvement, Tennessee Department of Education
Working group members:
Tait Danhausen, School Director, Cameron College Prep, Metro Nashville Public Schools
Sharon Griffin, iZone Regional Superintendent, Shelby County Schools
Joey Hassell, Principal, Ripley High School, Lauderdale County Department of Education
Shannon Jackson, Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Knox County Schools
Beverly Miller, Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction 9-12, Maury County Public Schools
Cardell Orrin, Memphis City Director, Stand for Children
Elaine Swafford, Executive Director, Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy
Greg Thompson, Program Officer, The Pyramid Peak Foundation
Cindy White, Principal, Vine Middle Magnet School, Knox County Schools
Clarissa Zellars, Director of School Improvement Strategy, Metro Nashville Public Schools

Student Support
State leads:

Mike Herrmann, Executive Director of Conditions for Learning, Tennessee Department of Education
Danielle Mezera, Assistant Commissioner for College, Career, and Technical Education, Department of Education
Working group members:
Brian Bass, Principal, Renaissance High School, Williamson County Schools
Laura Brimm, Principal, Dyer County High School, Dyer County Schools
Nicole Cobb, Executive Director of School Counseling, Metro Nashville Public Schools
Nancy Dishner, President and Chief Executive Officer, Niswonger Foundation
Kelly Drummond, Chief Administrative and Human Resources Officer, Boys and Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley
Elaine Jackson, Coordinated School Health Director, Stewart County Schools
Troy Kilzer II, Director of Schools, Chester County School System
Theresa Nixon, Director of Instructional Technology, Knox County Schools
Greg Wallace, Supervisor of Safety and Mental Health, Johnson City Schools


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