Source : Tennessee Department of Education , 2016 .
TENNESSEE EDUCATIONAL EQUITY COALITION . The Tennessee Educational Equity Coalition formed in March 2016 to unite the collective influence and voices of a diverse group of more than 100 civil rights and education advocacy organizations and to build momentum for more equitable opportunities for students statewide . The coalition ’ s goal is to build a shared advocacy agenda that will address the long-standing disparities in achievement and opportunities for students of color across Tennessee . Three priorities guide work toward this goal :
• Excellent teachers and leaders for every child
• Strong accountability systems
• Appropriate and equitable resources
In 2016 , the Equity Coalition placed focused attention on informing the state ’ s accountability plan to take advantage of the opportunities presented by ESSA to ensure more equitable outcomes for historically underserved students , including students of color and English learners .
FOSTERING A CULTURE OF INNOVATION
The policies and resources that govern schools must create environments in which innovations thrive . Educators must be able to seek new ideas and embrace successful models wherever they are found . Efforts to improve early-literacy rates , expand access to high-performing schools in urban and rural districts , and enhance the career readiness of graduates are among the many promising areas of innovation in Tennessee public education .
EARLY LITERACY . Early literacy is a key predictor of postsecondary and career readiness . Children who read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to graduate high school by age 19 than their peers who do not . 43 Among 6,000 Tennessee students rated below basic in third-grade English language arts , fewer than 3 percent reached proficiency by fifth grade . 44
To improve early literacy , Tennessee is revisiting its approach to teaching and learning , curriculum and resources , and building partnerships to improve student readiness . In every classroom , the goal is for students to engage with rich , complex texts that they can analyze and understand . This work requires innovation , and Governor Haslam ’ s 2016 budget included $ 9 million to launch a statewide early-literacy initiative to encourage action on reading intervention . In February 2016 , the Tennessee Department of Education launched the Read to be Ready campaign to increase the third-grade reading proficiency rate statewide from 43 percent to 75 percent by 2025 . 45
With additional funding from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development , TDOE awarded 20 grants to spark innovative literacy intervention through summer 2016 reading programs across the state in 2016 . Funded programs served a total of 574 students , engaged 598 family members , and sent 11,785 books home with students . In addition , 140 educators received training focused on strategies that accelerate first- , second- , and third-graders ’ literacy development , including enrichment activities and family engagement . Lessons from these efforts are intended to inform strategies used in schools and districts across the state to dramatically raise student literacy . 46