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Project-based learning takes center stage at Croft Design Center Middle Prep Zoo School Student Showcase

Caption: Juwan Lwangmianga, a seventh grade student at Croft Design Center Middle Prep, speaks to a packed room at the Nashville Zoo about Ethiopian wolves.

Pictured: Juwan Lwangmianga, a seventh grade student at Croft Design Center Middle Prep, speaks to a packed room at the Nashville Zoo about Ethiopian wolves.


Juwan Lwangmianga is writing a children’s book to raise awareness about the Ethiopian Wolf, an animal that is currently on the endangered species list. She thought about writing a newsletter instead, but decided that would be boring for her.

“I like to draw,” said Lwangmianga, who wants to be a pediatrician one day. “It feels good to have an opportunity to speak in front of people and be at the zoo,” she said. “It’s fun to do.”

Hundreds of middle schoolers from Croft Design Center Middle Prep like Lwangmianga filled the Nashville Zoo’s Safari, Jungle and Gallery rooms as part of the Zoo School Student Showcase held Monday, December 7. The Zoo School Student Showcase reflects how Croft Middle Prep, located on the Nashville Zoo campus, frequently collaborates with zookeepers and animal experts to engage students, parents and the community.

Seventh graders at Croft Design Center Middle Prep tackled the topic of endangered species of Africa as part of project-based learning activities. Students talked about their projects in progress as part of presentations that explored and investigated how animals are in the real world. From GoFundMe fundraising sites, to YouTube videos, children’s books, newsletters, and board games, students are creating many kinds of products to show what they are learning. Students will present the final versions of their projects on Earth Day 2016.

Students take the skills they have learned from different subjects a step further with high-order thinking that ties in each of those subjects in order to complete their projects, according to Croft Middle Prep teachers. Project-based learning means that instead of Lwangmianga just using language art skills to write about wolves, her children’s book project will require social skills to work with her team on the book, art skills to draw the illustrations, science research to explain the Ethiopian Wolf habitat, and even some math, in determining the number of pages needed for the book itself.

Jaila Foster's ocean biome.

Jaila Foster’s ocean biome.

Sixth grader Jaila Foster built an ocean biome filled with sea anemones, coral, sea plants and a fish – items made with household items she found at Walmart.

“It took me a few hours to build,” Foster said.

Another hallmark of project-based learning is the teamwork involved, which encourages students to provide moral support for each other when needed, teachers said. An example of this was found at the student showcase, where you could find students eagerly volunteering to help other students hold up posters in place of missing teammates.

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Teacher Richard Friedman speaking to introducing the student presentations to parents at the Nashville Zoo as part of the Croft Design Center Middle Prep Zoo School Student Showcase.

Croft Middle Prep Science Teacher Richard Friedman said the presentations show how thoughtful students can be.

“They have given me a lot of ideas on what they will do to talk about endangered African animals,” Friedman said to parents. “I enjoy working with the students. They’re inspiring in many ways.”

Trading cards were constructed by the fifth graders showing what they have learned about animals from each continent. For Evelyn Herrera that meant researching how the Adelie Penguin got its name and finding out what it eats.

“I found out everything I could about the penguin’s name,” Herrera said.

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Sixth Grade student Evelyn Herrera poses with her animal trading cards she made as part of project-based learning activities at Croft Design Center Middle Prep.


See the program from the student showcase below:


College Fair 2015: 200+ colleges and universities in one place

Parents and students can visit with more than 200 colleges and universities all in one place during our annual College Fair next Tuesday, September 22nd at Global Mall at the Crossings from 3:30 – 7:00 p.m. There you can learn more about admissions, financial aid, college life and opportunities for scholarships.

College Fair 2015

Parents can get more information and support for the college search at

Glencliff, Hume-Fogg, MLK and NSA all have National Merit Scholar semifinalists!

The school year is barely a month old, but student awards are already rolling in…

19 Metro students have been named National Merit Scholar semifinalists, putting them well on their way to earning one of the top academic honors in the entire country.

They were chosen from among 1.5 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools who took the PSAT last year. The PSAT is a test students have to choose to take, so the scoring is very competitive. Scoring well enough to be a National Merit Scholar semifinalist is a huge accomplishment.

These 19 students will now move on in the competition, where officials from National Merit will look at their applications, academic record, extra curricular activities, leadership roles and more. They will also have to write an essay and get an endorsement from a leader in their school. After all that they will have to take the real deal SAT and score well enough to advance to the finalist round.

It takes a lot of work, but the payoff is worth it. In the spring and summer, 7,400 students will win National Merit Scholarships worth a combined $32 million. Last year 20 Metro students won National Merit Scholarships, National Achievement Scholarships and College-sponsored National Merit Scholarships.

Congratulations to these students, and good luck in the spring!

Glencliff High School

  • Davis Truong

Hume-Fogg Magnet High School

  • Arthur Eff
  • David Feng
  • Varun Gudibanda
  • Adella Kuster
  • Caleb Obregon
  • Saba Rehman
  • Jacob Vest
  • Jonathan Warkentin

Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet School

  • Matthew Bray
  • Elom Dumenyo
  • Lillian Ekem
  • Dylan Folsom
  • Matthew Jones
  • Alexander Staggs
  • Tahj Starr
  • April Townson
  • Xiuya Yao

Nashville School of the Arts

  • Blake Skelton

Academic achievement results show Metro Schools outpacing the state

District continues steady improvement in
9 out of 10 subject areas

Key takeaways:

  • Metro Schools showed achievement gains in 9 out of 10 tested subjects. In seven of those subjects, gains were larger than the state average and as much as double statewide gains in several high school subjects.
  • The district scored a 5 out of 5 on the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System, which measures achievement growth.
  • The district met 10 out of 11 academic targets set by the state accountability system – the highest number the district has ever met.
  • Metro Schools is in good standing with the state once again at Intermediate status under the Tennessee Department of Education accountability system. Four years ago, the district was in Restructuring status, the lowest possible rating under No Child Left Behind.
  • TCAP tests, which measure student performance in grades 3-8, saw moderate single-year gains in the number of students scoring proficient or advanced in math and science and a small decline in reading. Five-year gains, however, show growth in every subject, including significant growth in math and science.
  • End-of-Course (EOC) exams, which measure student performance in grades 9-12, saw single-year gains in the number of students scoring proficient or advanced in every subject. Five-year gains are very strong, reaching double digits in most subjects.
  • The percentage point increases over five years equates to 13,808 more students scoring proficient or advanced on TCAP tests and 5,129 more students scoring proficient or advanced on EOC exams for a total of 18,937 more students when not accounting for student population growth.
  • In total, 51% of all Metro schools (75 schools) are growing and/or achieving at levels higher than the state average: 39% in elementary, 65% in middle and 58% in high.

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Academic achievement data for the 2014-15 school year shows Metro Nashville Public Schools overall proficiency increasing at a faster rate than the state. As a result of last year’s gains, Metro Schools met 10 out of 11 achievement measures on the state’s accountability system – the most ever for the district.

District data also shows student growth outpacing the state, which reflects year-over-year academic progress for students regardless of proficiency. Metro Schools received a growth rating of five – the highest possible score – in the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS).

Last year’s scores mark a five-year trend of steady increases in student proficiency in 9 of 10 tested subject areas. In 7 of those 10 subjects, Metro Schools’ increases were significant enough to outpace improvement statewide, which similarly saw increases in every subject area except Reading / Language Arts for grades 3-8.

“Teachers and principals need to be proud of the progress their students are showing. We are certainly proud of them,” said Interim Director of Schools Chris Henson. “They have all worked very hard to improve academic opportunities and outcomes for Nashville’s children, and the progress they have made is significant in many areas. Though some years’ gains may seem modest, added up over time they are often quite large. That means more than just a score on a report – it means thousands more students performing at grade level and preparing for higher education.”

The Tennessee Department of Education implemented new standards and assessments in 2010. Since then, the number of students scoring proficient or advanced (P/A) grew significantly in every subject tested, particularly at the high school level, with most climbing by double-digit increases over five years.

If current proficiency levels were applied to the same student population size that the district had in 2010, nearly 19,000 more students are scoring proficient or advanced on the state’s standardized tests than were back then. Although the actual increase in the number of students meeting proficiency is even higher since the district’s student population has grown significantly during that time.

Grades 3-8 TCAP Single-year Gains
(in percentage points)
Five-year Gains
(in percentage points)
Increase in Students Scoring P/A compared to 2010
Math 2.8 20.4
Reading / Language Arts -1.4 4.5 13,808
Science 1.0 12.9


Grades 9-12 End-of-Course (EOC) Exams Single-year Gains
(in percentage points)
Five-year Gains
(in percentage points)
Increase in Students Scoring P/A compared to 2010
English I 1.3 15.1
English II 1.2 8.9
English III 6.9 8.1*
Algebra I 8.6 27.7 5,129
Algebra II 11.8 23.3*
Biology I 2.3 10.8
Chemistry 11.4 N/A**

*Since 2012, first year of English III and Algebra II EOC exams.
**The Chemistry EOC exam began in 2014.

All Grades TCAP and EOC Exams Increase in Students Scoring P/A compared to 2010
TOTAL 18,937

High school subjects are the most consistently improving areas of academic performance. In fact, Nashville’s high school students grew at a faster rate than the state average in six out of seven EOC subjects. Though they have seen large jumps in long-term growth, elementary and middle school achievement levels are still a concern. Literacy, in particular, remains a needed area of focus after a slight decline in overall scores last year and flat scores over the last four years.

“Growth across the board is very promising, but the fact is that fewer than half of our elementary and middle school students are performing at grade level,” said Henson. “It is extremely important that we continue and accelerate this growth. We are ready to keep pushing forward this year with expanded programs to address our weak spots, particularly literacy, and added resources to help special groups of students like those living in poverty or learning to speak English.”

Read about efforts to improve literacy in Metro Schools.

When considering those special groups of students, called subgroups, and the achievement gaps that exist between them and the student body as a whole, the results are mixed. Overall, achievement gaps in Metro Schools are still smaller than achievement gaps statewide in 15 of 16 measures (see chart below). High schools fared better than other grades, meeting targets for minority and economically disadvantaged students, the two largest subgroups in grades 9-12. While all subgroups improved in at least half of the subjects tested, elementary and middle schools only met one target for achievement gap closure.

Read about efforts to improve English learner services.

About half of all Metro schools are achieving or growing at higher levels than the state average. In total, 75 district schools, or 51 percent, exceeded the state average in academic growth and/or achievement. Nineteen of those schools, or 13 percent, surpassed the state for both growth and achievement. These schools exist in every cluster and at every grade level, representing magnet, charter and zoned neighborhood schools.

“Schools all over Nashville are improving, which is good news for students and families,” said Chief Academic Officer Dr. Jay Steele. “This shows that our teachers and school leaders are developing solutions to meet the unique needs and challenges of their students. There is no secret trick to a successful, growing school. It takes empowered principals who can set goals and make instructional decisions at the school level, along with a great faculty to carry it out.”

That kind of flexibility is gaining even more ground in the 2015-16 school year as student-based budgeting has rolled out district-wide. Principals will have access to more funding for subgroups of students so they can better address their particular needs.

In addition, there are district-wide supports available to principals in areas that need improvement. The district’s literacy program is expanding this year thanks to a $1.3 million investment aimed at meeting aggressive three-year goals. The Office of English Learners is also prepared to enhance support for teachers, students and their families through a new department strategic plan and $1.1 million in additional resources.

Long term, the expansion of prekindergarten to every child who wants or needs it is expected to make a major impact in the years ahead as students enter kindergarten with better literacy skills and a much better grasp on the English language. The district received a major federal grant for the expansion and development of high-quality pre-K programming with $8.3 million being invested this year and the possibility for a total of $33 million over four years.

“There is an enormous amount of hard work happening in our schools, but to really accelerate the pace of learning, we will need the full backing of our community,” said Dr. Steele. “Particularly when it comes to literacy, there is a lot parents and community members can do. All of our schools have volunteer opportunities for tutoring, literacy clinics, after school programs and more. Anyone who wants to pitch in to help a child should contact a school or visit”

“We are fortunate to have an excellent strategic plan guiding our way forward,” said Henson. “It calls for greater supports for our schools, personalized learning for every student and empowering principals to make decisions. That is the philosophy driving our actions now and into the future. Regardless of my status as Interim Director of Schools or the on-going search for a permanent leader, this plan and the leadership team that has been carrying it out are still pushing us forward. There is a lot of work still to do and we are unwavering in our commitment to our students.”

Back to School: Three Metro schools will have longer school days this year

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What Time

When will that school bell ring on August 5? While the vast majority of Metro schools will start at their regular times, some have changed schedules for the new year.

Here are the altered school schedules for 2015-16:

  • Jere Baxter Middle Prep – 8:25 a.m. – 3:55 p.m. (30 minutes longer)
  • Madison Middle Prep – 8:15 a.m. – 3:55 p.m. (40 minutes longer)
  • Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School – 7:00 a.m. – 2:45 p.m. (45 minutes longer)
  • Napier Elementary School – 8:00 a.m. – 3:45 p.m. (five minutes shorter)

These four schools changed their schedules last year and will keep these altered schedules for 2015-16:

  • Goodlettsville Middle Prep – 9:15 a.m. – 4:15 p.m.
  • McKissack Middle Prep – 9:15 a.m. – 4:15 p.m.
  • John Early Museum Magnet Middle Prep – 9:15 a.m. – 4:15 p.m.
  • Creswell Middle Prep School of the Arts – 7:55 a.m. – 3:05 p.m.

The Goodlettsville Middle building is still under construction, so the school will remain at the Dalewood campus in East Nashville (1460 McGavock Pike) for another school year..

School bus transportation will still be available for all schools as normal. Bus routes and times are available on

Back to School Central 2015


The first day of school in Metro Nashville Public Schools is Wednesday, August 5. You read that right. We’re just a few days away from school bells and big yellow buses.

This page is your headquarters for everything you need to go back to school. You can find links to all of the important information you need, including enrollment, immunizations, school bus routes and more. We will also be collecting your questions and posting the answers from now until August 5.

Get started today, because #MNPSDay1 will be here before you know it!

We will update this page regularly with new posts and information, so come back often.

The Metro Schools Customer Service Center is open to answer your questions.
Call (615) 259-INFO (4636)
Visit 2601 Bransford Avenue, 37204

Important Back to School Articles and Posts

Important Back to School Links

Back to School Flyers You Can Download

Important Back to School Events

  • First Day of School (half-day) – August 5
  • No School / Election Day / Teacher Planning Day – August 6
  • Full Day of School for Grades 1-12 – August 7
  • Tennessee Sales Tax Holiday – August 7-9
  • Full Day of School for All Students – August 10

Important Back to School Articles and Posts from 2013 (that are still relevant)

Back to School: 5 things you need to know before the first day of school

#MNPSDay1 Header
1. The first day of school is Wednesday, August 5. It is a half-day. There is no school on August 6, which is Election Day.

Every year hundreds of children who are not enrolled or immunized arrive at school on the first day. There is no school on Thursday, August 6, so school staff can work through new enrollments, place them in classes and get textbooks and materials for them. It is also Election Day, and many of our schools will serve as polling places. School resumes for everyone on Friday, August 7.

It is important for all students to attend the first day of school. Students who are registered before arriving on the first day will meet their teachers, review school and classroom rules and receive some materials so everyone will be ready to work on the next school day.

2. You might need to formally enroll in school. Do it now to avoid the rush.

Here is who needs to enroll:

  • Students coming to Metro Schools for the first time
  • Students entering Metro pre-K or kindergarten for the first time
  • Students who have moved to a different school zone

All families can enroll at one of our 12 Enrollment Centers. Find your nearest Enrollment Center and see what forms to bring with you on Families who speak a language other than English at home must register at our English Learners Office.

Our Enrollment Centers typically serve between 5,000-7,000 families in the final two weeks of summer before school starts. If you want to avoid the rush, head to your nearest Enrollment Center today.

3. You can find your zoned school and bus stop online.

To find your zoned school, use the School Zone Finder or call the Customer Service Center at (615) 259-INFO (4636). Bus Stop information will available on our website very soon through the Find Your Bus Stop tool. Bus stop assignment letters will also be mailed for students who are eligible to ride.

4. Your child might need new immunizations before coming to school.

Students who fit into one or more of these categories need updated Tennessee Immunization Certificates:

  • New to Metro Schools
  • Entering pre-school, prekindergarten or kindergarten
  • Entering seventh grade

You can get immunizations and the Certificate from the Metro Health Department or your family physician. Without proof of updated immunizations or a certified exemption form, your child will not be allowed to attend school. It’s a state law.

The Metro Health Department offers immunizations to Davidson County children under age 18. Immunizations are offered Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. at the Health Department’s three centers:

  • Lentz Health Center, 2500 Charlotte Avenue
  • Woodbine Health Center, 224 Oriel Avenue
  • East Health Center, 1015 East Trinity Lane

5. Your child must be five years old by August 15 to attend kindergarten.

A child entering kindergarten must be five years of age on or before August 15. Kindergarten is mandatory for all students prior to enrolling in first grade. Make sure your kindergartener knows his or her name and address, what to do at the end of the day (for example, attend aftercare or ride the bus) and put your student’s name on her or his backpack and lunch box.

The Metro Schools Customer Service Center is open to answer your questions.
Call (615) 259-INFO (4636)
Visit 2601 Bransford Avenue, 37204

CONTEST ALERT: Win up to $250 from the Nashville Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Does your high schooler need something to keep his or her mind occupied over summer break? How about this?

The Nashville Coalition Against Domestic Violence is inviting all Davidson County high school students to write a short essay on the topic “Domestic Abuse: See Something; Say Something.” Prizes include cash ranging from $100-250 and recognition at the Coalition’s big event later this year.

Entries are due September 15, 2015. For full details and an entry form, click on the flyer below.

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Saluting Excellence: Four MORE National Merit Scholars in Metro Schools

The Metro Schools Class of 2015 continues to impress with four more National Merit Scholars added to the ranks! These awards are sponsored by the colleges these students plan to attend and are just as tough to win as the other National Merit Scholarships. They are given only to students who meet the highest academic standards and are selected by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors.

The latest National Merit Scholars are:

  • Jonathan Ladd, Hume-Fogg Magnet High School
    Sponsoring College: Oberlin College
    Probable Career Field: Political Science
  • Jessica Orkin, Hume-Fogg Magnet High School
    Sponsoring College: Vanderbilt University
    Probable Career Field: Mathematics
  • Kelsey Veca, Hume-Fogg Magnet High School
    Sponsoring College: University of Tennessee
    Probable Career Field: Engineering
  • Srinivasa Dheeraj Namburu, Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet School
    Sponsoring College: Vanderbilt University
    Probable Career Field: Computer Science

Let’s go through the full list of 2015 National Merit and Achievement honorees:

This year, more Metro students made it to the semifinals of the National Merit Scholarship program than ever before. Another group of scholars will be announced in July, so stay tuned for even more good news!

Saluting Excellence: The School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt Class of 2015

The 2015 class of SSMV, with Virginia Shepherd, director of the Center for Science Outreach and professor of pathology, microbiology and immunology at Vanderbilt, at center. (Vanderbilt)

The 2015 class of SSMV, with Virginia Shepherd, director of the Center for Science Outreach and professor of pathology, microbiology and immunology at Vanderbilt, at center. (Photo courtesy of Vanderbilt)

Graduation season is almost done, and there’s one ceremony that happened two weeks ago you might not know about. But you definitely should.

On May 9, the School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt (SSMV) held its fifth commencement exercises. Together with their families, friends and community members, 23 graduates from four Metro Schools celebrated completion of the four-year honors program – one of the top high school science and math programs in the country.

Dr. Sharon Gentry, chair of the Metro Nashville Board of Education, was a distinguished guest and speaker. Dr. Jesse Register, director of Metro Nashville Public Schools, gave the commencement address.

These students are all headed to college this fall. Just take a look at this impressive list of graduates and their intended colleges: 

  • Fenan D. Debesai, Hume-Fogg Magnet, Davidson College
  • Kelsey G. Driscoll, Hume-Fogg Magnet, Claremont McKenna College
  • Catherine Elizabeth English, Overton High School, Vanderbilt University
  • Valeria A. Garcia Lopez, Hume-Fogg Magnet, Centre College
  • Evan B. Gordon, Hume-Fogg Magnet, Reed College
  • Varik Sevion Harris, Hume-Fogg Magnet, Reed College
  • Mayra Garitzia Hernandez, Hume-Fogg Magnet, Brigham Young University-Provo
  • Nhung Tuyet Thi Hoang, Overton High School, Swarthmore College
  • Isaac Ige, Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • Andriana D’an Johnson, Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet, Vanderbilt University
  • Alex Steven Jolly, Hillsboro High School, Vanderbilt University
  • Elizabeth MacPherson, Hillsboro High School, Loyola University, New Orleans
  • Arturas Malinauskas, Hume-Fogg Magnet, Northwestern University
  • Xena E. McDonald, Overton High School, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • Maylan Daniel Mehus, Overton High School, Haverford College
  • Dheeraj S. Namburu, Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet, Brown University
  • Susannah E. Price, Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet, Washington University in St. Louis
  • Samuel A. Rafter, Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet, Northeastern University
  • Efrain I. Salazar, Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet, Brigham Young University-Idaho
  • Able Shi, Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet, Vanderbilt University
  • Camron M. Shirkhodaie, Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet, Vanderbilt University
  • Cochran Gray Tettleton, Hume-Fogg Magnet, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • Yae Eun Yang, Hume-Fogg Magnet, Johns Hopkins University

The School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt is a joint venture between Vanderbilt University and Metro Schools. The SSMV offers high school students a four-year, interdisciplinary, research-centered learning experience at one of the nation’s most prestigious universities, where internationally recognized faculty are leading the way in diverse fields of scientific study.

The School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt is supported in part by a National Institutes of Health NCRR Science Education Partnership Award, by Vanderbilt University and by Metro Schools.

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