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Rise & Shine: Harder English curriculum arrives in Memphis elementary schools next week

Good morning and happy Friday!

Grade-schoolers in Tennessee's largest district didn't fare very well last year on the state's new standardized test. Only a fifth were meeting expectations in English language arts, according to the data. Shelby County Schools is working to up that percentage. This year, it's introducing a new English curriculum that is aligned to the Common Core learning standards. Called Expeditionary Learning, the curriculum offers more complex reading content and the kind of material that students will be tested on next spring. In today's featured story, Chief of Schools Sharon Griffin talks about the change and how teachers are preparing for next week's rollout for grades 3-5.

—Marta W. Aldrich, bureau chief


NEW CURRICULUM  Memphis educators prepare to introduce a new English curriculum that’s aligned with Common Core standards and aims to boost test scores. Chalkbeat

GRANT AWARDED  Tennessee charter leaders hope to leverage an $8 million federal grant into $50 million worth of improvements to charter school buildings over the next five years. Chalkbeat

HAPPINESS STUDY  When teachers are better at raising test scores, their students are less happy, a study finds. Chalkbeat

PRE-K PROPOSAL  The Memphis City Council may ask tourists to do what voters declined to do in 2013: fund universal needs-based prekindergarten for the first time in Shelby County history. The Commercial Appeal

GRADE FLOORS  Superintendent Dorsey Hopson tweets a denial of any grade-fixing at Memphis Kingsbury High School, as alleged by one teacher. WREG

EDUCATION ISSUES  State Rep. Mark White of Memphis weighs in on student information sharing and TNReady scoring errors. WREG

CONSOLIDATION PROPOSAL  Why Nashville’s school district is looking to consolidate and move some schools. The Tennessean

CHILD ABUSE  Nashville schools Director Shawn Joseph says staff will never be punished for reporting suspected child abuse. The Tennessean

HAZING PROBE  Authorities investigate whether a Grundy County school has a history of hazing and sexual abuse in the wake of charges against five football players. Times Free Press, The Associated Press

SURVEY SAYS  Keeping a two-week fall break gets a slight preference in a survey of Wilson County parents and employees. The Tennessean

MERIT PAY  For the first time, Greene County Schools gives performance bonuses to some teachers this year. The Greeneville Sun

MCQUEEN TOUR  Education Commissioner Candice McQueen visits schools in Carroll County as her statewide tour goes to West Tennessee. WBBJ

COMPLAINT DISMISSED  A Williamson County judge dismisses the claim of a former teacher who says she was bullied by school employees. The Tennessean

TEACHER HERO  A Blount County elementary school teacher is honored by the sheriff’s department for saving the life of a choking first-grader. The Daily Times

INDUSTRY CERTIFICATION  Students at Nashville’s Maplewood High School learn a trade through a partnership with Bridgestone. WSMV 

STEM CENTER  A Maury County high school unveils upgraded facilities to teach mechatronics. Columbia Daily Herald

FINANCIAL LITERACY  Female high school students in Williamson County tour an insurance company and hear from finance professionals. Franklin Home Page

CLASSROOM TECHNOLOGY  Students at a Grundy County elementary school receive Chromebooks. Times Free Press

TRUE GRIT One of the two students injured in this week’s terrorist attack in New York City insists on returning to school the following day so that he could maintain his perfect attendance. Chalkbeat