Statement on school funding proposal

Tennesseans for Quality Early Education issues statement on Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement formula

Following the announcement of the legislation for the new student-based funding formula known as the Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement (TISA) formula, Tennesseans for Quality Early Education issues the following statement from President and CEO Blair Taylor.

“We applaud the new TISA’s student-centered approach that recognizes and supports the unique needs of Tennessee students. Alongside the additional $1 billion in funding for public education, this is a big win for Tennessee children and vital to building a better foundation for educational success.

“In particular, we celebrate the inclusion of crucial investments in early education Kindergarten through third grade, including additional direct funding for students in these grades to support early literacy and rewards for districts related to third grade reading proficiency outcomes. These investments notably recognize the critical third grade benchmark and the need to improve Tennessee’s early education foundation. Research shows that when children aren’t proficient in reading and math by third grade, they tend to stay or fall further behind, ultimately impacting their ability to succeed in higher education environments.

“Additionally, best practice ratios for school nurses and counselors, increased salaries for educators, and more wrap-around support services like family resource centers and coordinated school health, will benefit children and families in the entire K – 12 continuum. Similarly, weights for students who are economically disadvantaged or live in concentrated poverty, have unique learning needs or live in small or sparse districts, provide important funding for students who may need extra support.

“While we had hoped a new formula would include funding for the Voluntary Pre-K program, we remain committed to finding ways to ensure any 4-year-old whose parents choose for them to do so may attend. With more than 75 percent of school districts citing waitlists for VPK, and the overwhelming majority of Tennesseans in favor of more state funding for this important program, the need is urgent.

“Investments in early education are investments in all the years that follow, creating a strong foundation for success through 12th grade and beyond. We look forward to joining with partners across the state to advocate for the implementation of TISA.”

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