Policy Map

Tennessee

School Choice Policy

Charter School Choice

Do state statutes allow for charter schools?

Are for-profit charters allowed?

No:

A charter school cannot be for-profit.

49-13-106(b). Creation or conversion of charter schools.

Is there a cap on the number of charter schools?

Did not find:

We did not find information about caps on charter schools in Tennessee statutes. However, Education Commission of the States states that Tennessee does not have caps on charters.

Education Commission of the States 50 State Comparison

Are charters required to provide transportation for any students?

No:

A charter can choose whether or not it will provide transportation for its pupils. At the time of enrollment, the charter shall provide the child's parent or guardian with information regarding transportation.

49-13-114. (a-c). Transportation.

Can charter schools employ uncertified teachers?

No:

All teachers in a public charter school must hold a valid Tennessee educator license.

49-13-111(k). Compliance.

Virtual School Choice

Do state statutes allow for full-time virtual schools?

Yes:

Virtual public schools are permitted. "'Virtual school' means a public school in which the school uses technology in order to deliver a significant portion of instruction to its students via the Internet in a virtual or remote setting." Virtual charter schools are not allowed.

Title 49, Chapter 16 Virtual Education and the Virtual Public Schools Act.
49-13-106.(d) Creation or conversion of charter schools.

Are virtual schools required to track attendance?

Did not find

Do virtual schools have to comply with state teacher certification requirements?

Yes:

A teacher shall be qualified to teach in the state under existing law.


49-16-208. Qualifications of teachers.

Private School Choice

Do state statutes allow for voucher programs?

Yes:

Tennessee statutes allow for the Tennessee Education Savings Account Pilot Program: the state will provide vouchers to fund tuition and supplemental educational services for low- to middle-income families in Memphis and Nashville whose children choose to attend private schools beginning in 2021-2022.

49-6-2601 through 49-6-2612: Tennessee Education Savings Account Pilot Program

Do state statutes allow for educational expense tax credits or deductions?

No:

No educational expense tax credits or deductions found.

EdChoice School Choice in America

Can students use vouchers to attend religious schools?

Did not find:

"Participating school" means a private school, as defined by § 49-6-3001(c)(3)(A)(iii), that meets the requirements established by the department of education and the state board of education for a Category I, II, or III private school, and that seeks to enroll eligible students;

49-6-3001(c)(3)(A)(iii): "Private school" means a school accredited by, or a member of, an organization or association approved by the state board of education as an organization accrediting or setting academic requirements in schools, or that has been approved by the state, or is in the future approved by the commissioner in accordance with rules promulgated by the state board of education

49-6-2602.(9)
49-6-3001(c)(3)(A)(iii)

Is there a cap on the number of students or private schools participating in voucher programs?

Yes:

"The number of participating students enrolled in the program must not exceed:

(1) For the first school year of operation, five thousand (5,000) students;

(2) For the second school year of operation, seven thousand five hundred (7,500) students;

(3) For the third school year of operation, ten thousand (10,000) students;

(4) For the fourth school year of operation, twelve thousand five hundred (12,500) students; and

(5) For the fifth school year of operation, and for each school year thereafter, fifteen thousand (15,000) students."

However, if the number of applications is less than 75% of available slots, the cap number will stay the same until the number of applicants exceeds 75%

49-6-2604 (c) (d)

Are voucher students in private schools required to take any standardized tests?

Yes:

Eligible students grade 3-11 must take annually the Tennessee comprehensive assessment program (TCAP) tests for math and English language arts, or successor tests authorized by the state board of education for math and English language arts.

49-6-2606 (a)(1)

Can private schools be removed from voucher programs based on performance?

Yes:

"The state board shall promulgate rules allowing the department to suspend or terminate a participating school's participation in the program due to low academic performance, as determined by the department."

49-6-2608(a)(2)

Are private schools in voucher programs required to provide transportation?

Did not find

Interdistrict School Choice

Do state statutes allow for interdistrict choice?

Yes:

Yes, local boards of education may admit students from outside their respective local school system. Local boards of education may also arrange for the transfer of pupils residing within their systems to schools located outside their districts, and enter into agreements with other local boards of education for the admission or transfer of pupils from 1 school system to another.

49-6-3104.(a): Transfer of students.

Are receiving schools or districts required to provide transportation to any students?

Unclear:

If the choice is for a school other than the one to which the student is normally zoned, the student may be required to provide personal transportation.

49-6-3104.(e): Transfer of students.

Page last updated: January 2020

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