• Sun, September 08, 2019 12:35 PM | Anonymous

    August TSTA Legislative Report

    • NSTA Congress Legislative Update

    •        What’s going on in Washington DC (Administration and in Congress)?
    •        ESSA: Key programs/funding for STEM
    •        Congressional Visits: issues and asks 
    • For more information concerning how your district can acquire funding for STEM projects and other science education issues, please access the complete NSTA Congress power point [here]. NSTA is interested in learning how states and school districts are using funds from the federal ESSA Title (II, IIA, IV4) programs. If you have information you would like to share, please contact your district TSTA board representative. https://tsta.wildapricot.org/page-1490096

      State Legislative Update

    • ·       House Bill #1151 and Senate Bill #1297 were approved May 29, 2019; Public Charter # 454 
    • Legislation provides approval for the assembly of a state advisory committee whose charge is to create a state plan for implementing computer sciencein grades six through twelve.
    • ·       House Bill #94 and Senate Bill #0058 were approved May 1, 2019; Public Charter #172, effective January 1, 2020
    • Legislation stipulates the Commissioner of Education, in conjunction with TDEC, will assemble a task forceto create and administer a state-wide grant program for school districts to apply for funding that addresses the state’sEnvironmental Literacy Planhttp://eeintennessee.org/Files/eetn/2012/TennesseeEnvironmentalLiteracyPlan-4990.pdfthrough local initiatives such as outdoor and environmental education, ecology, agricultural needs, nature, and resource-based education and recreation. The task force will establish priorities and criteria for providing awards to successful program proposals. 

       Other Items of Interest 

    • ·     The Perkins Act https://cte.ed.gov/legislation/perkins-vis the primary federal funding sourcefor high school, college and universityCTEprograms that are critical for preparing youth and adults for jobs in local and regional economies.Tennessee uses TnReady assessment results to evaluate CTE programs for funding and student performance. Science assessment has been added as part of the evaluation process.
    • ·     Science Standards Digital Resources can be found at https://docs.google.com/document/d/12p2wtd9jxOk7bTk6tSm4evLM4A4AERq6zwJ25tm2qGg/edit  and bit.ly/tn-sci-docs 
    • Resources include: 

    • o  Important documents– Observable Features by Practice; Observable Features of Cross Cutting Concepts (CCC) 
    • o  Reference document revisions: includes specifications for CCC’s and SEP’s associated with DCI assessment for cluster items (stand-alone item DCI’s can be paired with any CCC or SEP, cluster item numbers increase by grade level).

    Legislative Committee: Linda Jordan, Al Hazari, Gale Stanley. Next Report January 2020 

  • Thu, May 16, 2019 11:15 AM | Anonymous

    During the April Legislative Committee Meeting the following state items were discussed:

    • Senate Bill 58/House Bill 95 (Environmental Education) – bill passed May 1, 2019
    • STEM/CS/CTE - C&I (TDOE) brought in for advisement early on
    • TSIN to determine criteria for STEM designation
    • Senate Bill 151 or House Bill 339
    • Implications for TDOE - department response is to “step back” and wait for direction from the work of the nine member Computer Science and Technology Task Force, which is still being debated
    • TSIN is authorized to administer beginning in Summer 2020
    • Computer Science has been officially defined– “the study of computers and computational systems, focusing on the theory, design, development, and application of software and software systems, including algorithms and programming, and beyond simply the use of computers or computer applications.”
    • Currently waiting for Commissioner to appoint CAO
    • April Legislative Committee Meeting discussion about nationalitems of interest from recent Council of State Science Supervisors meeting in St. Louis MO:

    • Meeting discussion centered on what may be happening with Title IVfunding. Due to the broad federal guidance, use of funds is difficult to pinpoint as there is little to no reporting of data concerning specific district use. County coordinator defines how the funds are used. Potential target for providing information for districts on the professional development TSTA can provide?
    • Tom Keller presented toolkit on the use of ESSA,  Title II A, Title IVA  funds
      1. http://cosss.org/leadership-title
      2. 200 million for STEM (EIR please see previous legislative report for more information); significant amount for CS work
      3. White House to provide STEM report webinar; implementation plan coming out soon
    • David Evans (NSTA) reported on new NSTA structure
    • Teachers want lesson plans; currently looking for teachers who can deliver, provide greater interactivity, offer craft refinement, use of targeted ads 

    Question raised by committee member Michael Knapp concerning timing of spring EOC dates. Brian Caine promised to explore and have appropriate person(s) at TDOE to respond.

    Legislative Committee members: Linda Jordan, Al Hazari, Michael Knapp, Gale Stanley

    Next Legislative Committee Report August 2019

  • Sat, April 06, 2019 9:35 AM | Anonymous

    On February 21, 2019, TSTA Legislative sub-committee members spoke via conference call with TDOE Science Coordinator, Brian Caine, to receive an update on national and state activities of interest to or having potential impact on, the TSTA science education community. 

    State Level – Legislative Bills to watch


    • ·       Senate Bill 58: (corresponding House Bill 95)
    • o   Originated with TN Spaces - environmental literacy plan calls for TDOE to oversee the grant
    • o   Creates position and opens a pool of money designated for EE programs; formerly funded as C.E.N.T.S (Project Wet, Project Wild, etc.) 
    • o   Linda will provide contact information for historical perspective.
    • ·       Senate Bill 1151 (corresponding House Bill?): Computer Science Advisory committee proposed by Memphis representative 
    • o   Computer Science (CS) [course] (?) – approve with modification.  Educators underrepresented on committee. 
    • o   Recommendation: include supervisors, administrator, to include all regions in representation. Same districts continue to be represented to ensure a strong implementation will achieve desired results. 
    • o   Not yet reached the point of including research institutions. 
    • o   Detail are currently slight and people on the ground are problem solving to get the job done. 
    • o   Movement toward the inclusion of CS has been moving forward for some time.
    • o   TSTA welcomes the opportunity to include CS in the November joint math and science conference.
    • ·       Currently:
    • o   High School level belongs to CTE but AP CS Principles can be the fourth math class. 
    • o   K-8 CS standards- call for dedicated CS for middle school. CTE does not extend down to Middle School, so there is a reluctance to move to science, and no apparent overlap with the science standards.  New Commissioner will meet with division to determine new organizational chart. Waiting to see what happens with Science, Math, STEM and CTE overall.  
    • ·       4 Million dollars is being proposed for use in three areas
    • o   STEM
    • o   CS
    • o   Dual enrollment 
    • o   Research from TN Promise to inform these decisions.  There are some gaps and remediation needed for students who transition to 4 year universities. 
    • o   Working on how to define STEM – Integrated discipline in all 4 areas. 
    • FYI:A March 03, 2019 broadcast of 60 Minutesfeatured a segment on why there are so few girls in tech jobs. The following are three takeaways from the narrative:

    • ·      Although there are pockets of coding programs for girls across the nation, no one is paying much attention to the fact that there is a need to pique girls' interest in coding and science during their elementary years as waiting until middle school or high school istoo late.  “If just 1% of girls currently participating in programs chose to enter technology fields, their numbers would then approximate the number of males in these positions.”
    • ·      The program acknowledged that in academic settings, preparation for careers in technical fields requires a good understanding of scienceand STEM subject matter, particularly in computer science, but CS teachers are in very short supply. They posed the idea that coding instruction does not have to be provided by a science or STEM teacher. A fourth grade teacher in NY was shown leading her students through an exercise after a one day workshop.
    • ·      Research indicates that girls tend to think of themselves as "creatives" and do not perceive science as affording opportunities to engage in the creative process. [As educators] we must learn to capture a student’s imagination early in their educational experience in order to cultivate the desire to study science as a path to successfully pursuing personal passions.
    • Governor Lee Announces Future Workforce Initiative https://www.tsin.org/gov-bill-lee-announces-the-future-workforce-initiative

      National Level – EIR Grant Opportunities

    • ·       Council of State Science Supervisors (CS3): Jodi Peterson, NSTA congressional legislative liaison, reported the following to CS3 on February 22, 2019.
    • The Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program team at the US Department of Education (Department) is holding a webinar on Tuesday, February 26th at 12:00 p.m., Eastern time, to inform the broader STEM/Computer Science community about the funding opportunities available under the EIR Early-phaseMid-phase, and Expansion competitions. The competitions opened on February 1, 2019 and the application deadline is April 2, 2019 at 4:30 p.m., Eastern Time.
    • The EIR program provides funding to create, develop, implement, replicate, or take to scale entrepreneurial, evidence-based, field-initiated innovations to improve student achievement and attainment for high-need students, and rigorously evaluate such innovations. The EIR program is designed to generate and validate solutions to persistent educational challenges and to support the expansion of effective solutions to serve substantially larger numbers of students.

      There are three types of grants under this program: “Early-phase” grants, “Mid-phase” grants, and “Expansion” grants.  These grants differ in terms of the level of prior evidence of effectiveness required for consideration for funding, the expectations regarding the kind of evidence and information funded projects should produce, the level of scale funded projects should reach, and, consequently, the amount of funding available to support each type of project.

    • In Fiscal Year 2019, all three types of grants include an absolute priority on Field Initiated Innovations-STEM. In addition, the Early-phase competition includes a competitive preference priority within the STEM absolute priority that specifically focuses on computer science, especially for underserved populations.
    • More information about these grant competitions can be accessed by contacting the EIR program team at eir@ed.gov.

    The TSTA Legislative sub-committee includes Linda Jordan, Al Hazari, Michael Knapp and Gale Stanley. The next sub-committee report is scheduled for release April, 2019.

  • Fri, December 16, 2016 1:24 PM | Anonymous

    Three big announcements from the Administration yesterday, including one on science assessments (highlighted below).  Jodi

    Today, the White House and the U.S. Department of Education are bringing together state and district leaders, along with many other educators, to discuss the impact of the Testing Action Plan  and what more can be done to ensure that tests are better, fairer, and fewer.  As part of the event, the Department of Education is announcing additional resources and guidance for states and school districts aligned with the Testing Action Plan, including nearly $8 million in grants to the Maryland and Nebraska State Departments of Education to develop new and innovative ways to measure science achievement that can serve as models for other states.  (more info on that below, highlighted)

    Further, the Department is announcing the release of two Notices of Final Regulations (NFRs) that implement provisions of Title I of the ESSA, including the final regulation for state assessment systems under Title I, Part A, and the final regulation under Title I, Part B.  Below, we’ve included the letter that was sent today to all Chief State School Officers that includes links to the final regulations, as well as the White House Fact Sheet outlining the release.  For your ease, the Department has developed a summary document on both NFRs that can be found here.

    And yesterday, the U.S. Department of Education posted non-regulatory guidance on the teacher preparation regulations at http://www.ed.gov/teacherprep. 

     $8 Million in Grants to Make Tests BetterThe Department of Education is announcing nearly $8 million in funding to the Maryland State Department of Education and the Nebraska Department of Education through its Enhanced Assessment Instruments Competitive Grant Program (EAG).  This round of EAG provides resources to improve the quality of state assessments used to measure academic achievement, to provide opportunities for innovation through the use of technology and the development of new, innovative item types, and to develop better scoring mechanisms for communicating and using assessment results to support teachers and students.  President Obama’s fiscal year 2017 budget included a $34 million request for “Competitive Assessment Grants,” the successor to the Enhanced Assessment Grants program under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  The two projects funded this year support the work of to two consortia that represent eight states to develop high-quality science assessments.

    • The Innovations in Science Map, Assessment, and Report Technologies (I-SMART) Project, led by the Maryland State Department of Education and in partnership with Missouri, New York, New Jersey, and Oklahoma, will produce innovative science assessments aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards to support comprehensive alternate assessments for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.  It will contain multiple measures of student progress over time, develop a science learning map that includes multiple pathways for students to learn science content and reach challenging grade-level expectations, and also deliver score reports that improve the information about student performance that is shared with educators and families.
    • The Strengthening Claims-Based Interpretations and Uses of Local and Large-Scale Science Assessments (SCILLSS) project, led by the Nebraska Department of Education in partnership with Montana and Wyoming, aims to improve the quality of statewide science assessments.  The project will leverage existing tools and expertise to generate more resources to strengthen states’ ability to create and evaluate quality science assessments.  The project will also engage state and local educators to clarify the interpretations and uses of assessments scores and to create tools to improve the usefulness of student performance results.

  • Fri, September 25, 2015 9:33 AM | Anonymous

    Review the new Science Standards and give your feedback. This website will provide you with the opportunity to review and offer feedback on what students should be expected to know by the end of each K-12 school year for science.

    The Tennessee State Board of Education is responsible for reviewing academic standards and recent legislation (Public Chapter 423) outlines the process for reviewing standards and builds on the revision work that was already underway for science standards. Initial revisions to science standards were developed by teams of educators from throughout the state during the fall of 2014 and spring of 2015. These initial revisions are the standards you will find posted on this site.

    The SBE will work in conjunction with the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) to collect all of the comments submitted to this website. Educator development teams will review the website feedback during the winter of 2015 and make additional revisions. Another draft set of standards will be posted in spring 2016 and an appointed Standards Recommendation Committee will make the ultimate recommendation for new science standards to the State Board of Education in summer 2016. For information regarding the standards review process, visit http://tn.gov/sbe/topic/standards-review or email TNStandardsReview@tn.gov


  • Sat, August 29, 2015 10:28 AM | Anonymous

    This fall, Congressional leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate—lead by Senator Lamar Alexander—will be working to reconcile the House and Senate education bills that would rewrite the No Child Left Behind.  While the Senate bill includes language that would provide states with a dedicated program for STEM, the House legislation does not include a STEM program.

    Now is the time for TN voters to reach out to Senator Alexander and ask him to ensure that the final bill to reauthorize No Child Left Behind includes the STEM program language in the Senate bill (Every Child Achieves Act , S.1177, Title II, Part E, Section 2005)

    Please take a moment and join me in advocating for STEM education in Tennessee. Visit this website, where you can customize the letter that will go directly to Senator Alexander.

    You can also forward this email to your colleagues and others in Tennessee and ask them to reach out to Senator Alexander.

    Thank you.

    Learn more in this issue of NSTA’s  Legislative Update

  • Mon, April 20, 2015 11:34 AM | Anonymous

    Education Standards Debate Continues: Leaders Seek Compromise

    On Tuesday, the House Finance, Ways and Means Committee amended SB1163/HB1035 by Sen. Bell (R-Riceville) and Rep. Spivey (R-Lewisburg) to require legislative approval of appointments made to the newly created legislative standards review committee. In the bill’s current amended form, the standards review committee will be composed of ten appointments by the Governor and speakers from both houses following the current legislative session and will require approval upon the legislature’s return in 2016. The House version is scheduled for a floor vote on Monday (4/20). If passed, the education standards compromise bill would still incorporate the current education standards review process established by Gov. Haslam last year and will be headed up by the State Board of Education, utilizing both professional input as well as citizen comments. The committees will provide input and suggestions on current standards and the adoption of new standards. To view the newly adopted House amendment, please click here. We urge all members to contact your legislator and encourage them to vote for this bill with only the agreed upon compromise amendments. 


    The letter can be as simple as


    Dear Representative or Senator ___________;

    I am writing, as one of your constituents from your district, to encourage you to support SB1163/HB1035 with only the agreed upon compromise amendments. 






    Go to http://www.capitol.tn.gov/  and click on Find my legislature to get the emails of the legislators.
  • Fri, February 13, 2015 5:12 PM | Anonymous


    • While it was a year of transition for Tennessee teachers and students as they fully implemented the state’s new standards in math and English, scores increased on the majority of assessments.
    • Nearly 50 percent of Algebra II students are on grade level, up from 31 percent in 2011. More than 13,000 additional Tennessee students are on grade level in Algebra II than when we first administered the test in 2011.
    • High school English scores grew considerably over last year’s results in English I and English II.
    • Achievement gaps for minority students narrowed in math and reading at both the 3-8 and high school levels.
    • Approximately 100,000 additional Tennessee students are on grade level in math compared to 2010.
    • More than 57,000 additional Tennessee students are on grade level in science compared to 2010.

  • Fri, February 13, 2015 5:02 PM | Anonymous

    The governor’s budget proposal includes nearly $170 million for K-12 education, including:

    • $100 million dollars for increasing teacher salaries, which amounts to a four percent pool that local education associations (LEAs) will have available as they make local decisions to increase teacher pay;
    • Nearly $44 million to fully fund the Basic Education Program; and
    • $5 million to create the Educators’ Liability Trust Fund to offer liability insurance to Tennessee teachers at no cost to them.

    Notable higher education investments include:

    • $260 million for capital projects, including new science facilities at Jackson State Community College and the University of Tennessee, nearly $25 million for improvements to colleges of applied technology across the state and funding for a fine arts classroom building at East Tennessee State University;
    • $25 million to fully fund the Complete College Act formula; and
    • $10 million for need-based scholarships for students;

     The budget also includes specific workforce development investments geared to the governor’s Drive to 55 effort including:

    • $2.5 million for statewide outreach efforts geared toward adult students, technical assistance to local communities that are finding ways to support adult learners, and a one-stop portal for adults;
    • $2.5 million to support the success of the SAILS (Seamless Alignment and Integrated Learning Support) program which address remediation in high school;
    • $1.5 million to provide last dollar scholarships to adults with some post-secondary credit to attend community college;
    • $1 million to establish competitive grants to 2-year and 4-year institutions to develop initiatives specifically designed for veterans; and
    • $400,000 to establish the Tennessee Promise Bridge Program, which will bring first-generation college students to campus prior to fall enrollment, which is one more step in making sure they have the best chance possible to succeed.

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