Nashville, TN—The Tennessee Department of Education has released the calculation to generate A-F letter grades for schools, in alignment with state law.
School Letter Grades will measure how the state’s K-12 schools are serving students and helping them succeed academically.
In 2016, T.C.A. § 49-1-228 was established and required the department to develop a school letter grading system beginning in the 2017-18 school year in order to provide parents and families with a rating system for school performance. Following passage of the legislation, testing administration issues and impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic delayed a roll-out of school letter grades as part of Tennessee’s state accountability system; however, the law will be implemented for the first time this year.
Over the past several months, the department has invited Tennesseans across the state to engage on this topic via public town halls, a working group of stakeholders, and a public comment opportunity to discuss legal requirements for the calculation.
The calculation to generate A-F letter grades for schools, presented today to the State Board of Education, includes up to four separate indicators—overall success rate for achievement, overall growth, growth for the lowest performing 25% of students in the school, and a college and career readiness indicator—and will differentiate between elementary and middle schools, and high schools. Schools will receive a sub-score for each indicator, ranging from levels 1-5, and each sub-score will be multiplied by assigned weights to generate an aggregate score then will be cross walked to determine the school’s letter grade.
“School letter grades will be a powerful communication mechanism for our parents and families, which is why it is so important to ensure the calculation of the letter grade is clear and easy-to-understand, and I deeply appreciate all the stakeholders across the state who have engaged with us during this process,” said Lizzette Reynolds, Commissioner of Education. “While we cannot satisfy all priorities and perspectives that were shared, we believe we have developed a calculation for school letter grades that aligned with the spirit of the law and will more meaningfully differentiate school performance to parents, and I look forward to continuing to work with our stakeholders to focus on continuous improvement and deliver the best for all our students.”
During August and September, nearly 300 public comments were submitted from Tennesseans on their top priorities for measuring a school’s academic success, and how the state should measure progress towards those priorities. Public comments were submitted via e-mail, written, and also during the 10 town halls hosted in each region of the state.
In October, the department held five working group meetings to review the public comment submitted and make recommendations on the new calculations for each letter grade. Working group members represented district and school leaders, elected officials, parents, and education stakeholders.