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VOL. 40 | NO. 49 | Friday, December 2, 2016

New Tennessee plan would give school districts more control

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NASHVILLE (AP) - Tennessee is proposing a plan that would give local school districts more control over issues such as improving poor-performing schools.

On Tuesday, state education officials released the first draft of Tennessee's version of the Every Student Succeeds Act, the federal education law President Barack Obama signed last year, The Tennessean reported (http://tnne.ws/2hgHYdZ).

Education Commissioner Candice McQueen is beginning a tour of the state this week to gather input on the plan, which emphasizes transparency, accountability and school turnaround. Meetings will be held in Knoxville, Jackson, Memphis and Nashville over the next two weeks.

Under the proposal, families would have access to more information about their schools, and districts would have more support from the state to meet expectations.

"We definitely want our districts to be empowered with our support," McQueen said in an interview Monday.

Oth er changes include more money coming through the state's funding formula for education spending as well as grants. It is unclear how much more money will be given, but a portion of it is designed to improve schools on the state's priority list of those performing in the bottom 5 percent in the state.

Tracking and reducing chronic absenteeism will also be a requirement under McQueen's plan, and discipline rates will be reported as well.

The draft is an extension of what the state has already set out to do with its Tennessee Succeeds strategic plan, which was also passed last year, McQueen said.

The Tennessee Department of Education will submit its final plan to the U.S. Department of Education in the spring.

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