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Teacher Planning Time Varies Greatly in Tennessee Schools


Tennessee ComptrollerNashville, TN – The amount of time teachers have to work on lesson plans, grade papers, attend training sessions and meet with parents differs considerably in school districts across the state, a new report released today by the Comptroller’s Offices of Research and Education Accountability (OREA) shows.

The report, Teacher Planning Time in Tennessee: A Comparative Analysis of Teacher Planning Time Laws, Policies, Initiatives, and Practice, presents research that shows teacher planning time may have a direct impact on student achievement and teacher effectiveness.

Research suggests that planning time, particularly when it’s done in groups of teachers with shared grades or subject areas, can be used to help recruit and retain teachers.

According to the international Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, teachers in the United States are allowed fewer hours of non-instructional time, including planning time, than teachers in other developed countries and spend more hours per day teaching.

Tennessee is one of only a few U.S. states with a law which sets a minimum amount of planning time teachers must receive – at least 150 minutes of planning time per week – but most planning time policies are set by local school districts.

A survey conducted by the Tennessee Department of Education found 97 percent of teachers reported that they do not have enough time during the day to complete all of their work-related tasks during their paid working hours. The survey indicated that approximately one-third of educators in Tennessee believe that teachers are not allotted enough non-instructional time.

Last year, OREA surveyed school districts in Tennessee on their teacher planning time policies and practices. Most school districts in Tennessee reported giving some teachers more planning time than the amount required by state law and also giving some teachers group planning time with their peers.

On average, high school teachers receive approximately 77 minutes of planning time per day, middle school teachers receive 53 minutes and elementary school teachers receive 42 minutes.

Some districts are working to increase the amount of individual and group planning time through initiatives such as creating or expanding Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). PLCs are small groups of educators within schools that focus on ways to improve learning and student achievement.

OREA is an agency within the Comptroller’s Office that is charged with providing accurate and objective policy research and analysis for the Tennessee General Assembly and the public.

To view the full report online, go to:




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