Needs Assessment

Needs Assessment for ESSER 3.0

The following webpage has been adapted for accessibility purposes from the Tennessee Department of Education's Needs Assessment document. Translations are available by clicking at the top left corner of the website and choosing the preferred language. 

General Information

LEA Name: Metro Nashville Public Schools

Director of Schools: Dr. Adrienne Battle

Address: 2601 Bransford Avenue; Nashville, TN 37204

Phone #: (615) 259-4636

Students & Enrollment

Mission & Vision: MNPS's vision is to be the premier large school district in Tennessee and beyond by ensuring that that every student is known. We deliver a great public education to every student, every day. 

Grades Served: Pre-K through 12

Number of Schools: 160

Total Student Enrollment: 80,486 as of May 25, 2021

Race / Ethnicity

American Indian/Alaska Native: 0.1%

Asian: 3.8%

Black / African-American: 38.1%

Hispanic: 29.8%

Native Hawaiian / Pacific Islander: 0.1%

White: 25.5%

Multiracial: 2.6%

Other Student Groups

Economically Disadvantaged: 41.8%

English learners (through T4): 26.5%

Students with Disabilities: 12.2%

Foster Children: 0.5%

Students Experiencing Homelessness: 2.8%

Students in Military Families: 0.05%

Migrant: 0.09%

Students with High-Speed Internet at Home: 48%

This needs assessment for ESSER 3.0 is built to be a summary of the major elements to consider in strategic planning for effective resource allocation for those funds. The department also encourages updates to ESSER 1.0 and 2.0 spending plans to align with needs as they are updated and develop. Local plans and those submitted through InformTN for the comprehensive district plans will likely be more detailed and thorough, with specific call-outs by individual school need. The state template is intended to provide the public with a data snapshot to inform community engagement related to the needs of the district that ESSER 3.0 dollars may support.



50%+ School Year Remote: Provide Information on any increase in the number of students whose "first time" experience in a formal school setting will be 2021-22. 

Table for Virtual or In-person

Because parents of younger-aged children were more likely to send their children to school in-person, the majority of MNPS first graders received some in-person instruction last year.  Just over 9% of our first graders are new to MNPS this year with no history of kindergarten experience. Asian and Black or African American kindergartners were slightly less likely to attend in-person, while families of English Learners were somewhat more likely to experience in-person kindergarten. 

Instructional Days

Days In-Person: Total number of in-person days in the 2020-21 school year (number of days and percent of the year) for elementary, middle, and high schools in your district.

During the 2020-2021 school year, there were 170 days of in person and virtual learning (180 days minus 10 approved non-instructional days). The number of in-person instructional days by various grade spans and percentages are as follows.

  • PreK-2 attended in-person learning 91 days, 54% of the school year. This grade band includes 20,636 students.
  • Grades 3-4 attended in-person learning a total of 86 days, 51% of the school year. This grade band includes 12,575 students.
  • Grades 5-9 attended in-person learning a total of 59 days, 35% of the school year.  This grade band includes 29,598 students.
  • Grades 6-8 attended in-person learning a total of 56 days, 33% of the school year. This grade band includes 17,910 students.
  • Grades 10-12 attended in-person learning a total of 53 days, 31% of the school year. This grade band includes 16,478 students.

Days Virtual: Total number of virtual days in the 2020-21 school year (number of days and percent of the year) for elementary, middle, and high schools in your district.

During the 2020-2021 school year, there were 170 days of in-person and virtual learning (180 days minus 10 approved non-instructional days). The number of virtual instructional days by various grade spans and percentages are as follows.

  • PreK-2 virtual learning totaled 79 days, 46% of the school year. This grade band includes 20,636 students.
  • Grades 3-4 virtual learning totaled 84 days, 49% of the school year. This grade band includes 12,575 students.
  • Grades 5-9 virtual learning totaled 111 days, 65% of the school year.  This grade band includes 29,598 students.
  • Grades 6-8 virtual learning totaled 114 days, 67% of the school year. This grade band includes 17,910 students.
  • Grades 10-12 virtual learning totaled 117 days, 69% of the school year. This grade band includes 16,478 students.

Quarantine Closures: Summarize the number of days or weeks schools were closed due to quarantine and how that varied across the district. Differentiate between elementary, middle and high schools and only provide summaries in the context of broad impact (number of students impacted, on average).

Only two traditional MNPS schools were closed for quarantine in 2020-21. One elementary school with an in-person population of 156 students/PreK – 4thgrade was closed 10/16/20-10/29/20 for a total of 10 days. A special day school with an in-person population of 30 was closed 9/30/20-10/12/20 for a total of 9 days. In both cases, schools shifted to virtual learning for all students impacted.

Additional Impacts on Instructional Time: Summarize any other significant impacts on instructional time (more than 5 days). Examples may include: staffing shortages, weather or natural disasters, technology access or issues, etc.

Over the past two school years, there have been events that significantly impacted instructional time including a devastating tornado in the spring of 2020 followed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Both events had significant impacts on instructional time of more than 5 days in a row. With buildings damaged by the tornado, schools were forced to move to temporary locations to resume instruction in spring 2020. This transition interrupted instruction for hundreds of students. 
With in-person/virtual learning options for families, schools had to vacillate between the two options requiring schools to open and close throughout the school year. Due to COVID-19-related quarantines and illnesses, there were instances of staffing shortages in schools, causing the Support Hub (central office) staff to be assigned to schools to serve as teachers, administrators, and other staff roles. At the beginning of the school year, MNPS worked quickly to deploy laptops, internet hotspots, and instructional materials to students. Deployment of devices, materials and food across the district was challenging. Schools supported distribution, and buses were utilized to provide deliveries where needed. During virtual learning, when a student had difficulty logging on to the virtual learning platform, schools relied on parents/guardians to help the student access learning. Students and/or families accessed virtual help centers to provide on-demand support. 

Overall Impact: Summarize engagement in virtual instruction, by grade band. This should include the academic and relational experience during the 2020-21 school year.

As represented in the data above, 72.6% of students were in full-time remote learning during the fall semester of 2020. As conditions allowed for schools to reopen in person, families chose whether their student attended virtually or in-person. In spring 2021, 44.1% of students were in full-time remote learning.

There was an increase in chronically absent students (defined as missing 10% of school days or more). In 2020-21, 25.2% of K-8 students and 38% of high school students were identified as chronically absent. Across all grade levels, the rate was 28.9%. In the 2020-21 student school climate survey, students reported better relationships and higher levels of belonging than in 2019-20. Students reported lower levels of student engagement in 2020-21 than in 2019-20.

Synchronous instruction was provided each day in the virtual setting. Students were also supported through office hours with teachers. MNPS implemented a districtwide “Navigator” program to touch base with students and families on a regular basis to address challenges and connect them with needed services and resources. More than 5700 MNPS staff members worked as Navigators with caseloads of 6-12 students each. Over the course of the 2020-21 school year, Navigators connected with more than 60,000 students, and the resulting 360,000 check-ins produced more than 2,800 collaborative referrals. Students with attendance challenges also received regular check-ins and supports through home visits and calls from schools and partners.

Student Achievement, Instructional Materials and Interventions

Benchmark Data: Provide the district average for beginning, middle, and end-of-year diagnostic/screener data comparisons. Provide overall data as well as by student group.

Language Arts

Language Arts Data


Math Scores

These tables provides the district-wide median national percentiles (NP) for all students and by student subgroup for the last four administrations of the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment. In addition, the percentage of students maintaining their national percentile ranking from February 2020 – just prior to the start of the pandemic – until May 2021 is shown in the last column. These are students that made what would be considered average academic growth in a normal school year.

Language Arts and Mathematics tests were administered in person in a secure test setting for all students in February 2020 and administered virtually to all students in August 2020 and January 2021. Most students tested in a secure setting in their school building in May 2021, but a significant number chose to remain in virtual instruction and were tested virtually. 

Median NPs declined by four percentage points for Language Arts and by one point for Math from February 2020 to May 2021. Further evidence of a decline in achievement was a significant increase in the percentage of students scoring in the bottom quintile on these tests. These are students at high risk academically, whose scores fall in the bottom 20% nationally in a normal year. The increase was 9 percentage points for Language Arts and 10 points for Math. In addition, we saw a decline in the percentage of students scoring in the top two quintiles – those students above the 60th percentile and most likely to reach proficiency on state assessments. The decline was 4% for Language Arts and 6% for Math.

February 2020 data were used as a baseline since these scores occurred before the pandemic and because all students were tested in a secure testing environment. In most school years, scores from the August test administration would serve as a baseline for the year. 

With respect to student subgroups, academic gaps widened somewhat for Black or African American students and economically disadvantaged (ED) students. The percentage of Black students maintaining their national ranking was below their peers for both Language Arts (36.4%) and Math (33.6%). For Language Arts, 37.6% of ED students and 43.4% of non-ED students maintained their ranking. For Math, the numbers were 34.4% for ED students and 37.5% for non-ED students. While these growth discrepancies are relatively small, any widening of an already wide achievement gap is a concern. More positive academic growth was observed for Hispanic students, English Learners and Students with Disabilities, whose growth, as a group, exceeded that of their classmates.

Literacy: Summarize the impact of early reading compared to previous years. Provide overall data as well as by student group.

2019 End of Year Results

2020 MAP Score

2021 MAP Scores

These tables provides K-3 district-wide, end-of-year literacy median national percentiles and quintile distributions for all students and by student subgroup for 2018-19, 2019-20, and 2021-21. These results combine reading universal screening data from FastBridge and Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessments.

The results show a decline from 2019-20 to 2020-21 for the typical student at every grade level, as indicated by decreases in the median national percentiles (NP). The decline across grades was 8 percentile points, from a median NP of 40 to 32. In addition, an 8.6% one-year increase was observed in the percentage of students falling in the bottom quintile – students at or below the 20th national percentile and at high risk academically.

The grade-level data reveal that the largest one-year decline in early reading achievement was at kindergarten, with the NP falling from 43 to 23. This grade level also saw a large 17.7% increase in students scoring in the bottom quintile.

With respect to subgroups defined by race/ethnicity, the achievement gaps widened between White students and classmates who are Black or African American or are Hispanic. While the median NP increased by one percentile (from 59 to 60) between 2020 and 2021 for White students, Black students saw a 12-point decline and Hispanic students an 11-point drop. The increase in percent of students scoring at the bottom quintile was 11.4% for the Black or African American subgroup and 11.3% for the Hispanic subgroup.

While both Economically Disadvantaged (ED) and non-ED students were adversely impacted in 2020-21, the gap between the two groups widened slightly. The median NPs widened by two points and the percent in the bottom quintile widened by 1.5%. The data also show a widening gap for English Learners but not for Students with Disabilities, although achievement declined for both subgroups.

ACT: Summarize ACT data for your district (participation and outcomes) compared to previous years. Provide overall data and by student group.

Graduating Class ACT Data

While the state has not released official ACT data to districts at this time and the graduation data are also embargoed and preliminary, data for 2020-21 graduates were calculated using the list provided in the state’s Cohort Application in combination with ACT-supplied data.  These data (see Table 4) show that 89.7% of 2021 graduates participated in the ACT, compared to close to 100% in 2019, the last year seniors had a full year to sit for the assessment.  All subgroups had lower participation rates in 2021 than they did in 2019, but the decline was steepest for students in traditionally underserved subgroups.  

The mean cumulative ACT fell overall as well and for every subgroup except the Students with Disabilities subgroup.  The mean decline was 1.1 points for All Students, but the students in the White and in the EL subgroups had a larger decline on average, while students in the Asian subgroup had a much lower decline (0.1 point) on average. 

Similarly, the percentage of graduates reaching a benchmark cumulative ACT score of 21 fell over the three-year period by 6 percentage points.  However, since these data are preliminary and subject to appeal, the true loss may be somewhat lower.  Nonetheless, the White Subgroup appears to have the largest loss (10%) and the Asian subgroup the smallest loss (2%) over the period.

Preliminary Tennessee Value Added Assessment System (TVAAS) results indicate the district’s academic growth for the 2020-2021 school year for the ACT was equivalent to the state average.  The district achieved a TVAAS composite of 3 on the 1-5 evaluation scale.

Interventions (Above and Beyond RTI): Summarize any proactive interventions included in 2020-21 to address potential concerns, as applicable.

Lexia Core 5, a dyslexia-specific intervention, was provided to every school and available to every student.  The program is adaptive, so its utility exceeded using it in Tier II, III, and special education interventions.  Similarly, Language!Live was made available for every school to use for literacy interventions in grades 6-12.  For math, i-Ready was used for mathematics interventions in grades K-12.  
These programs were selected due to their ability to be employed for students to use in a remote or in-person setting.  In either setting and in addition to the instruction provided through the learning platform, teachers provided direct instruction as needed and appropriate. 

During spring 2021, MNPS also piloted high dosage tutoring in ELA and math for almost 500 students in elementary, middle, and high school. This personalized support was targeted at students not receiving Tier II or Tier III interventions.

School Activities and Enrichment: Summarize any impacts on enrichment programs, school activities, etc. during the 2020-21 school year.

When schools opened in-person during the 2020-21 school year, MNPS Extended Learning provided in-person before and after care (extended care) for families. Student-teacher ratios were 1:15, and restrictions were placed on the number of students that could be in large areas due to social distancing (e.g., gym capacity was limited to 30 students).  As a result, MNPS Extended-Learning sites and external partners were unable to serve as many students as would be served in a typical school year.  

MNPS was not able to offer in-person, after-school programs, or clubs during the 2020-21 school year, which impacted participation and the types of out-of-school time programs and activities offered.  Virtual offerings were provided. 

Programming provided by external partners during the school day was also limited. Once schools opened in-person, partners who typically provide mentoring, character development, academic support, enrichment, and related services were not able to provide in-person programming.  Some providers offered virtual offerings, but participation was lower than in a typical school year. During the 2020-21 school year, there were approximately 70% fewer students who participated in a cohort program (academic, enrichment, behavior, etc.) during the day and before/after school. 

During the 2020-2021 school year, MNPS was able to provide athletic experiences for all sports that typically participate in a year. Several seasons were shortened, particularly in the fall and winter of the school year. Spring sports were able to play a full season. During the year, MNPS followed strict protocols for team practices and games intended to minimize quarantines and spread. Additionally, athletes of indoor winter sports were tested regularly prior to games in order to reduce spread. These strategies and efforts allowed MNPS to complete a full athletic season, albeit different and condensed.

Due to the many challenges of virtual learning and COVID-19 health restrictions, many of our extracurricular and co-curricular arts programs (such as marching band, theatre, choir, dance, etc.) are struggling to both survive and thrive. To keep MNPS students and staff healthy and safe, these groups had restrictions on rehearsing or performing in person during the 2020-2021 school year. As a result, the many academic and SEL benefits of these programs were limited last year. Additionally, fundraising efforts by booster organizations and parent support groups were hampered. Visual and performing teachers are now doing an excellent job of recruiting students in order to build these invaluable programs back up, but additional support is needed to ensure that students continue to have equitable access to arts programs of excellence.  

Student Readiness

Transitions and Pathways

Transitions into Middle School: Summarize challenges for students new to middle school during the 2020-21 school year.

Students transitioning from elementary school to middle school faced challenges expected in any normal year, though certainly exacerbated to a degree.  These included:

  • New administration, staff, and teachers
  • New courses, course schedule, and academic expectations
  • New ways of communicating (principal call-outs, newsletters, etc.)
  • Different school day schedule
  • New extra-curricular opportunities
  • For in-person learners, bus routes and routines
  • For in-person learners, class schedules (time, duration, class rotations, related arts)

Schools worked extremely hard to mitigate these challenges through frequent and multi-modal ways of communicating, such as Navigators to provide check-ins to support students in a one-on-one setting, and ensuring all students were clear on expectations for learning and participation, among other things.

Transitions from Middle School: Summarize challenges related to students who are leaving middle school in Spring 2021.

Students transitioning from middle school to high school faced challenges expected in any normal year, though certainly exacerbated to a degree.  These included:

  • New administration, staff, and teachers

  • Shift in expectations to meet graduation requirements by earning credits

  • Selection of Academy (e.g., CTE) pathways, if appropriate

  • New courses, course schedule, and academic expectations

  • New ways of communicating (principal callouts, newsletters, etc.)

  • Different school day schedule

  • New extra-curricular opportunities

  • For in-person learners, bus routes and routines

  • For in-person learners, class schedule (time, duration, class rotations, electives)

Schools worked extremely hard to mitigate these challenges through frequent and multi-modal ways of communicating, Navigators to provide check-ins to support students in a one-on-one setting, and ensuring all students were clear on expectations for learning and participation, among other things.

Transitions into High School: Summarize challenges for students new to high school during the 2020-21 school year.

Challenges for students new to high school during the 2020-2021 school year included:

  • New administration, staff, and teachers, students

  • Shift in expectations for academics and behavior

  • Selection of Academy (e.g., CTE) pathways, if appropriate

  • New courses, course schedule, and academic expectations

  • New ways of communicating (principal callouts, newsletters, etc.)

  • Different school day schedule

  • New extra-curricular opportunities

  • For in-person learners, bus routes and routines

  • For in-person learners, class schedule (time, duration, class rotations, electives)

New high school students, during the 2020-2021 school year, faced many challenges. For the safety of all students, learners began the year in a virtual learning setting. Due to COVID-19, entering ninth-grade students had limited transitional and community-building activities from middle to high school in comparison to a typical year when high schools would target middle-school students for numerous in-person transition activities. These activities are designed to build community and support a successful start to high school.  While virtual options were successful, it still was not comparable to those during a typical year.

The 2020-2021 school year began in a virtual learning setting except for some exceptional education students who returned in person in the fall semester. During the second semester, high-school students could opt-in or out of virtual learning.  Many high-school students transitioned from a virtual learning setting to an in-person environment that looked much different than a typical year. Additionally, structuring in-person and virtual learning options during the second semester involved re-assigning teachers to students. This necessary shift caused additional disruptions to learners' existing educational settings.

The most significant concern for the entering 2020-2021 ninth-grade class was students' overall social and emotional health.  Learners experienced turbulent transitions from middle to high school, fewer opportunities to forge new, lasting relationships with other students at the new school, challenges associated with shifting between virtual and in-person learning, as well as additional stress and concern as the ongoing pandemic evolved. Understanding the reality of the situation, MNPS has led an intentional effort to address the "whole learner" by targeting all students' social-emotional needs through appropriate supports and resources. Schools worked extremely hard to mitigate these challenges through frequent and multi-modal ways of communicating, Navigators to provide check-ins to support students in a one-on-one setting, and ensuring all students were clear on expectations for learning and participation, among other things.

Graduation Rates: Summarize challenges related to students who will graduate in Spring 2021 compared to previous years.

COVID-19 impacted the class of 2021 in many ways: academically, financially, physically, and emotionally. For some students, the virtual learning environment was challenging.  Some seniors struggled to complete work and their assignments (although teachers were available virtually to assist offering synchronous classes, office hours and one-on-one supports). Some students did not accumulate the needed courses to graduate.  Other students had to help their families financially and find jobs (part-time and full-time) to help meet the basic needs of food and housing during the year.  There was an uptick in parents reporting anxiety, depression and students struggling.
In response to these challenges, MNPS planned and implemented a robust summer credit recovery program.  All seniors who did not graduate on time were invited to participate.  Two hundred forty-two students graduated during the summer of 2021, which is almost double numbers from previous years. In addition, 3,465 students enrolled in credit recovery in grades 9-12, and these students recovered 7,083 credits (nearly double previous years). A decrease of 0.5-1% in graduation rate is expected because of the challenges seniors faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to summer credit recovery, PERSIST (Persistence through Education Requires Student Involvement for Successful Transitions) was a program offered at several MNPS high schools.  PERSIST was an after-school program which allowed small groups of students to receive in-person support to recover credits.  The in-person environment was more beneficial for some students, particularly English learner students, for whom the online Edgenuity credit recovery program was challenging.  

Dropout Rates and Disengagement: Summarize challenges related to expected drop-out rates credit recovery needs or engagement concerns with high school students in the 2020-21 school year compared to previous years.

Cohort Withdrawal Codes

Dropout rates for 2020-21 are not final and are under embargo. The numbers listed in Table 5 are similar to those included on the TN Report Card website but also include categories not captured by the Report Card methodology.  Regardless of whether all non-graduating cohort members are included or just the ones included in the Report Card calculations, the cohort rate is projected to be lower than it was in the last year before the pandemic, despite a small, anticipated graduation rate decline. As noted earlier in this assessment, high school chronic absenteeism rates were the highest across tier and were much higher than in previous years.

According to the school climate survey conducted in fall 2020, a perception survey for high-school students, there were decreases in the response rates from 2019 to fall 2020 in the following areas: 
-decrease in favorable responses in a focus on activities in classes by 14%
-decrease in favorable responses in how excited students are to participate in classes by 16%
-decrease in favorable responses in how interested students are in classes by 8%
As noted in the graduation section, reconnecting students with school was a major focus for both MNPS and its community partners. For the first time ever, MNPS worked with external groups to contact disengaged high-school students. High-school staff, as well as partners, called and visited families to provide wraparound supports. Through regular Navigator check-ins, students were able to share academic and non-academic needs and challenges with an adult at their school. Navigators were responsible for connecting students to needed supports and resources. In addition, the PERSIST program provided the opportunity for students to recover credits in an after-school, in-person setting during the spring of 2021. Expanded credit recovery opportunities were also provided in summer of 2021, as well as engaged through our Promising Scholars program for high-school students that provided literacy and math support, as well as enrichment opportunities.

CTE: Provide any decrease in the number of CTE courses, concentrators, completers, and/or inabilities to participate in coursework needed to fulfill concentrator/completer status due to pandemic restrictions.

The pandemic impacted student access to rigorous CTE course work within our high-quality pathways; however, there is no evidence that this impacted concentrator/completer status. 

Specifically, the pandemic impacted course enrollment in:

  • Dual Enrollment (DE) Anatomy and Physiology
  • DE Medical Terminology
  • DE Welding
  • DE Auto Diesel I
  • DE Auto Diesel II
  • DE Auto Diesel III
  • Dual Credit (DC) Maintenance Light Repair (MLR) I
  • DC Fundamentals of Construction
  • DC Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing
  • DC Cosmetology I
  • DC Cosmetology II
  • DC Cosmetology III
  • DC Residential and Commercial Construction I
  • DC Residential and Commercial Construction II

Additionally, due to pandemic restrictions, we were unable to offer some dual credit opportunities as listed below:

  • DC Intro to Aerospace
  • DC Aviation I
  • DC Aviation II
  • DC Architecture and Engineering Design I
  • DC Architecture and Engineering Design II
  • DC Architecture and Engineering Design III
  • DC Audio Production I
  • DC Audio Production II
  • DC Audio Production III
  • DC Intro to Music Industry
  • DC Culinary II
  • DC Culinary III

With the shift to virtual, MNPS’s partner in the aerospace pathway, MTSU, did not provide an option for aerospace in 2020-21. They also did not offer remote testing. The other courses could not be offered as dual credit because of the need to shift how architecture and audio were taught.  Students did not have access to the necessary programs while learning virtually to be able to prepare for the dual credit exams. As a result, NSCC did not offer these courses in 2020-21. Culinary courses require hands-on demonstrations as part of the assessment, so these exams were not able to be administered for students to earn dual credit.

Course Availability: Provide an overview of courses that were not able to be offered during the 2020-21 school year as a result of pandemic related challenge (not including CTE, which is referenced above).

MNPS was able to offer all courses; however, courses and experiences were impacted by absence of field trips. There were no classes that were “not offered” due to COVID-19.

Special Populations and Mental Health

Special Populations: Summarize challenges related to supporting students with disabilities, English learners, students experiencing homelessness, students in foster care, migrant students, and economically disadvantaged students during the 2020-21 school year.

  • Additional supports needed to access the technology and learning platforms and to receive services as outlined in students’ IEPs and ILPs
  • Obtaining consent for virtual therapies
  • Ensuring translation and interpretation services were available and readily accessed
  • Ensuring that English learners had opportunity in the virtual classroom to practice all four language domains
  • Challenges measuring students’ progress 
  • Ensuring IDEA timelines were met 
  • Difficulty identifying and providing traditional services to all students experiencing homelessness, as well as migrant students
  • Ensuring students in foster care had educational stability and did not experience an interruption in instruction and service provision, as he/she transitioned from one home or one school setting to another
  • Students identified in the Economically Disadvantaged category experienced ongoing challenges with sustenance needs such as food, clothing, and shelter. Additionally, nutrition services, technology and internet access, and necessary instructional supplies were also needs.

Mental Health, Behavioral and Other Supports, Interventions and Staffing: Summarize challenges related to mental and behavioral health. As applicable, include limitations related to observation and interaction with student in the virtual learning environment.

The 2020-2021 school year provided an opportunity for innovation and increased wraparound supports for students. The year also presented needs related to mental and behavioral health because of limitations related to observation and interaction with students in the virtual learning environment. Some of those challenges included access and engagement. 

  • For most of the year, students were not physically in the presence of teachers and counselors who would be able to observe and assess students' physical well-being and safety.  Staff could not engage with students as they normally would causing barriers to observing physical signs (bruises, body language, etc.) and determining student needs/feelings/emotions virtually. 
  • For students having suicidal ideations, school staff did not have immediate access to students to ensure immediate safety.  In response, schools had to contact parents, or the Metro Nashville Police Department to conduct welfare checks at their homes.
  • Students who needed mental health services may not have had a confidential space in their home to participate in regularly scheduled counseling sessions. Additionally, due to a consistent daily schedule or barriers to their daily schedules, students would miss more sessions than they would in the in-person setting.
  • Due to immediate staffing needs, staff supporting mental health and behavioral needs were also supporting instructional needs. Additionally, there were barriers to implementing behavior interventions for students. 
  • For educators, mental health and wellness also was a challenge in some instances, requiring additional on-demand mental health support to avoid an impact on delivering quality instruction. 

School Nurses: Summarize challenges related to shortages or limitations in school nurses (or similar).

The role of the school nurses in MNPS is to provide skilled nursing services, case management, education and assess and care for students and their families.   These duties have expanded as MNPS deals with COVID-19 matters such as screening staff and students for symptoms of COVID-19, testing and contact tracing, and determining if anyone needs to be removed from the school and quarantined.  While we are eager in any type of environment, COVID-19 or not, to provide student access to a school nurse all day, every day, this year has presented some challenges.  There is difficulty recruiting nurses and finding qualified applicants due to the existing nursing shortage.  We are competing with other organizations that can hire at a higher salary.  A shortage of school nurses has meant that schools may have to ask staff without medical training to manage students’ health concerns and handle medical emergencies.  Although some school staff are trained in first aid and CPR, there is no substitute for trained medical professionals who can individually address each student’s needs. Higher turnover rates in school nurses were also a challenge.  Additionally, due to the shortage, the school nurses cover more than one school.  


Staff Retirements: Summarize differences in the number of staff retirements during the 2020-21 school year as compared to previous years. Please differentiate between instructional staff and other staff.

The median retirement total for certificated/teaching staff over the past 5 years has been approximately 150 retirements annually.  School year 20/21 saw a much lower retirement total of 113 retirements.  
Alternatively, the median retirement total for support/non-teaching staff over the past 5 years has been 53 retirements.  School year 20/21 saw a much higher retirement total (about 2.5 times higher than the median) at 121 retirements.  

Staff Retirements

Staff Resignations: Summarize differences in the number of staff resignations which occurred during the 2020-21 school year as compared to previous years. Please differentiate between instructional staff and other staff.

Between 2014 and 2018, MNPS experienced staff turnover between 13-17%. In the 2019-20 school year, staff turnover was 10%, and in the 2020-21 school year, rates remained steady at around 11%. In the 2020-21 school year, MNPS experienced lower rates of turnover for all staff than in previous years. In 2020-21, non-instructional staff experienced turnover rates of 11% and instructional staff experienced turnover of 10%. Turnover rates have declined during the public health crisis for both instructional and other staff.

Extended Quarantines: Provide the number and percent of instructional staff and non-instructional staff who faced more than two quarantine periods (10 days or longer).

Number of Instructional staff who experienced more than two quarantine periods = 12
Number of Non-Instructional staff who experienced more than two quarantine periods = 0
This represents less than 1% of staff.

Classroom Vacancies: Provide the total vacancies for the teacher of record in the district during the 2020-21 school year.

As shown in the following table, teacher of record vacancies remained low throughout the school year with the lowest number of vacancies in February 2021 (10) and the highest in December 2020 (27). As the 2020-21 school year ended, there was increase in vacancies with 201 by the end of May 2021.

Classroom Vacancies

Other Vacancies: Summarize any other critical vacancies that impacted the district during the 2020-21 school year.

There continue to be several vacancy areas in MNPS that are reflective of the nationwide trends.  We continue to struggle to find an adequate number of support personnel, specifically bus drivers and paraprofessionals.  There also continues to be a struggle to find licensed, qualified teachers in the areas of math, science, special education, and foreign language. As previously mentioned, MNPS also experienced a shortage of school nurses who are contracted through the Metro Nashville Health Department.

Other Considerations

Access to Technology: Provide the percent of time when students learning in a virtual environment did not have consistent access to a device. Provide this information for elementary, middle, and high school grade bands.

MNPS began deploying devices to students in need of a computer in April 2020, prior to the close of the 2019-2020 school year. This allowed students, particularly those in need of graduation requirements, to have the credits needed for graduation and college attendance.  MNPS then embarked on a summer of digital activities for students, continuing to deploy laptops to any student to support engagement in the summer digital learning activities. In June of 2020, laptops were ordered, with support from Metro Nashville’s CARES Act funding, to provide every MNPS student with a laptop.   Devices were distributed throughout late summer and during the school year based on need. Students who experienced issues with their devices (including damage or loss) were provided with a new laptop to ensure continuity of learning. Devices were available at a student’s assigned school or at one of the virtual help centers located strategically around Nashville. These help centers provided technical assistance and support for virtual students. Devices were also delivered to students’ homes when transportation was found to be a barrier. 

Currently, 95% of elementary students have a district-provided device, 83% of middle-school students have been issued a district-provided device, and 62% of high-school students have a district-owned device.  Because of this access and in alignment with our continuous learning plan, no student should have been without access to a device longer than 24 hours unless there was an extenuating circumstance.

MNPS experienced two instances in which students lost access to digital tools that were used for instruction. Microsoft Teams (the synchronous instruction platform) had a national connectivity problem during the spring semester that lasted approximately 3 hours. Additionally, during the spring of 2021, we experienced an outage of Schoology (Learning Management System) that lasted for three days.

Access to High-Speed Internet: Summarize student and staff access to high-speed internet during virtual instruction, how that changed over the year, and how that might have impacted opportunity and access.

From the beginning of virtual instruction, MNPS worked to support consistent internet access for students by providing mobile internet hotspots. Hotspots were deployed, along with laptops, whenever requested by a family or when a need was identified. Currently, we have 7,043 hotspots deployed at the elementary tier, 4,048 deployed at middle-school tier and 4,170 deployed at the high-school tier.  Buildings remained open throughout virtual instruction so that teachers could socially distance and have access to high-speed internet provided by the district. In a few instances, teachers who were quarantined during virtual learning and needed high-speed internet access were provided with hotspots to ensure continuity of learning for students in those affected classes. MNPS also addressed challenges related to low or slow coverage due to either student location or cell-towers overload because of number of users on a single network. In the case of poor coverage, a second vendor of mobile hotspots was engaged to ensure consistent access. Throughout virtual learning, the district had enough devices to meet the needs of any student or family requesting connectivity. 

Facility Constraints: Summarize facility constraints that impacted instruction (ie. space concerns leading to hybrid schedules).

Due to social-distancing needs related to COVID-19 precautions, schools were required to provide 6 feet of distance to the maximum extent possible. With the standard size of classrooms, doing so ultimately limited the ability to implement common instructional practices as in previous years. A few examples include the ability to conduct small-group instruction on a frequent basis. Elementary teachers were limited in the ability to conduct story time and morning meetings on carpets thereby preventing opportunities to build class communities. Also, teachers were limited in the ability to circulate the classroom and engage students in hands-on modeling opportunities. While teachers adjusted to ensure there was no interruption in instruction for our students, there were impacts of facility constraints on instruction, due to the COVID-9 pandemic.  

Summary of Key Priorities

For each of the sections below, list the top 3 investments your district will make to address the data indicated above and accelerate

  1. Accelerating Scholars: High-impact Tutoring
  2. Adaptive intervention platforms in ELA and math for all students in K-12
  3. High-quality instructional materials
Student Readiness
  1. Mental health supports (counselors)
  2. Navigator (SEL and social workers)
  3. Metro Schools Reimagined [Cluster alignment, 5th grade transition, Restorative Practice Assistants (MS/HS)Advocacy Centers (ES)]
  1. Professional development
  2. Summer planning days
  3. Strategic hiring support (Hire Forward) 
Foundational Elements
  1. 1:1 technology infrastructure: student and teacher devices, technology support services, internet hotspots
  2. HVAC projects to improve indoor air quality
  3. Program evaluation  and research-practice partnerships (continuous improvement, return on investment of funded strategies)