Nashville, TN – The Tennessee Department of Education has announced the Best for All recognition program, sharing benefits awarded to Tennessee school districts and public charter schools that plan to spend historic amounts of federal COVID-19 Coronavirus relief and stimulus funding directly on student achievement and improving academic outcomes.
Beginning in 2020, the U.S. Congress responded to the global COVID-19 Coronavirus health pandemic by passing several pieces of legislation, and as a result, Tennessee is benefitting from over $4.5 billion for K-12 education to be spent between spring 2020 and fall 2024.
Through three rounds of funding referred to as ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0 funds, over $3.58 billion will flow directly to local school districts to decide how to spend.
The department understands the importance of rewarding investments in mission-critical initiatives that are most likely to benefit students. Best For All districts or charter schools are those organizations that have strategically planned for and invested in ways that are likely to accelerate student achievement.
To qualify for the Best for All recognition program, a district or charter school must spend 50% of its ESSER 3.0 award amount on proven, research-based strategies to raise student academic achievement and participate in the TN ALL Corps tutoring grant program to provide students with high dosage, low ratio tutoring opportunities.
“Emerging from the pandemic, Tennessee’s goal is to accelerate academic achievement for all students, and the Best for All recognition program intends to incentivize and recognize districts and local communities to do just that,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn.
“Best for All Districts are building upon exciting statewide momentum to meet this moment in time and we are confident that if we maintain our collective focus on students, our state will see stronger gains and outcomes for years to come. The department is leading by example with its spending strategy, and we encourage districts to invest strategically in ways that keep our collective focus on students,” Schwinn stated.
Districts will document their spending in federally required plans that are due to the Tennessee Department of Education by August 27th, 2021 for review and approval. All district plans are required to be posted publicly upon approval, and Best for All districts and public charter schools will be announced in September.
While the primary benefit of becoming a Best for All-District or charter school is increased student achievement and accelerated growth, highlights of the additional benefits include:
Celebration and Reporting Benefits
- Celebratory letter from the Tennessee Department of Education
- Public Reporting: Best for All Leader Board
- Recognition and banner as a TN ALL Corps District or School
- Notation on the State Report Card
- Highlights in external reporting
- Parent communication support
- Video for school boards celebrating work of the district
- Free online high school tutoring services
- Free access to high quality, online math support, and content
- Free access to high quality, online English Language Arts support, and content
- Membership in Best For All /TN ALL Corps Community of Practice
- Planning grant bonus
- Planning Grants fund redistribution
- $700.00 per year for each participating student in TN ALL Corps
- Consideration and bonus points for future grants and resources
- Opportunities to increase teacher income through tutoring income
- Exclusive access to funds that need to be recouped and reallocated to districts
- Access to planning grants upon request, as part of the network
- Prioritized reimbursement processing
- Additional consideration for waivers
- Consideration related to priority school supports and interventions
- Paperwork reduction, when available
- Early enrollment in trainings
Tennessee’s state plan outlines the department’s spending strategies for its set-aside portion of the funding, including grant opportunities and resources to support districts, schools, teachers, students, and families, and solicited feedback from over 150 organizations statewide. The U.S. Department of Education approved the state plan on July 15th.