Rise & Shine: Why one Memphis teacher calls grade floors a key motivator

Good morning! (and for many of you, happy snow day!)

Today's featured story is an essay from a teacher who uses "grade floors," which has been a debated practice in Shelby County Schools lately. Read why she says setting a lowest possible grade a teacher can assign a student can motivate a student.

— Laura Faith Kebede, reporter

P.S. As a reminder, our first-ever Great American Teach-Off at SXSW EDU is all about math. We’re accepting entries until Jan. 19. Click here to apply today!

FIRST PERSON As years go by and a student’s proficiency gap increases, confidence decreases, too. With a lowered confidence comes a lower level of self-efficacy — the belief that they can do what they need to do to succeed. This, to one teacher, is the argument for a grading floor. Chalkbeat

HOW I TEACH A Millington teacher, one of 45 honored nationally in 2017 by the Milken Family Foundation, shares how she relates with students. Chalkbeat

GRADING Shelby County Schools board members discuss the merits of using “grade floors” and what a districtwide policy recommendation could look like. The Commercial Appeal, WHBQ

HISTORY EDUCATION Memphis high school students reenact historic “I Am A Man” march. Tri-State Defender

SORTING THE STUDENTS Knox County approves a rezoning plan that would send students to schools closer to their homes but hurt racial and economic diversity. Knoxville News Sentinel

GLOBAL FRIENDS A student delegation from Tono, Japan visits Chattanooga, continuing a 28-year tradition as “sister cities” that began at a school. Times Free Press

BUS TOUR A Chattanooga education nonprofit takes to the road to get community input on schools. Times Free Press

COLLEGE PREP A peek inside Knowledge Academy, a charter school in Antioch. News Channel 5

PHONE FRENZY Teachers are fighting cellphones for attention. Here’s how some are winning. WKNO

CLASSROOMS SANS TEACHERS A small but significant number of classrooms in America’s largest school districts started the school year without a teacher. Chalkbeat


At Grahamwood Elementary School in Memphis, two teachers meet twice a week with a group of English learners to provide extra academic support. The students who participated the most were rewarded with a trip to Bass Pro and a guest speaker who had lived in Antarctica.