“Excellence in Teaching and Learning for All”
Mission and Goals
The mission of the Franklin Special School District is to foster academic, social, emotional, physical, and creative development in each student; to instill a desire to continue learning; to nurture respect for all people; and to promote responsible citizenship.
- City of Franklin
- District Improvement Planning
- History of FSSD
- State Report Card
- What Makes FSSD "Special"?
National Accreditation Report
After months of preparation and self-evaluation, as well as three days of an extensive review by outside evaluators, the Franklin Special School District received a glowing review and continued accreditation from AdvancED (now Co, one of the most esteemed education accrediting agencies in the nation. The AdvancED Review Team observed classrooms in all FSSD schools, met with hundreds of stakeholders, and reviewed many artifacts and other documentation forms during its visit in April 2018.
During the Engagement Review Team’s visit to FSSD, examiners reviewed fifty-three classrooms using the Effective Learning Environments Observation Tool (ELEOT). Observers focus on the students and remain in the school for a minimum of 20 minutes to ensure enough evidence is gathered to accurately rate the seven environments scored, which are listed below. Information from these observations helps identify strengths and potential areas to improve. Environments use a 4-point scale from Not Observed (1) to Very Evident (4).
- Equitable Learning: 3.25
- High Expectations: 3.26
- Supportive Learning: 3.69
- Active Learning: 3.25
- Progress Monitoring and Feedback: 3.09
- Well Managed: 3.61
- Digital Learning: 1.84
- Powerful Practices
Additionally, the Review Team shared what it found to be “Powerful Practices.” According to the report, “Powerful Practices reflect noteworthy observations and actions that have yielded clear results in student achievement or organizational effectiveness and are actions that exceed what is typically observed or expected in an institution.”
In short, a Powerful Practice is “something” the system is doing very well and at a high level.
There were 5 Powerful Practices identified in the FSSD:
- The Board of Education (BOE) of the Franklin Special School District has established. It ensures adherence to a code of ethics and board policies, which protect, support, and respect the system’s autonomy and school leadership to accomplish the course’s goals.
- The leadership of the Franklin Special School District has effectively implemented outstanding practices in support of excellence in teaching and learning.
- The Franklin Special School District has systematically and systemically developed and implemented an exemplary curriculum aligned to the Tennessee Academic Standards and best practices.
- The Franklin Special School District has developed an exemplary process to attract, recruit, and retain qualified personnel supported through its induction, mentoring, and coaching programs.
- Franklin Special School District allocates and proactively manages human, material, and fiscal resources to support system needs and priorities both in the present and long-term to ensure high student performance levels.
While the exit report was highly complementary, the whole process provides school districts with additional ways to improve. The Review Team and district leaders identified two opportunities for improvement and one improvement priority:
- Establish and nurture a learning culture for students that engages and promotes project-based learning, collaborative problem-solving, and inquiry learning to develop students’ critical thinking and self-reflection. (Opportunity)
- Develop and implement differentiated instruction opportunities on a regular and frequent basis within classrooms to address the needs and interests of individual learners. (Opportunity)
- Design, implement, and monitor a comprehensive student advocacy program that provides consistent advisory, mentorship, support, and career planning for every student across the school system. (Priority)
According to the report, these items are significant strengths:
- The Response to Intervention (RtI) strategies provided targeted support for the critical development of identified students.
- Parents and students praised the quality of communication efforts of leadership and staff.
- Collaborative efforts between parents, schools, and community-supported the “Nook” and other initiatives provided for students and families’ needs.
- The use of technology increased learning opportunities and helped prepare the students for the real world.
- Leadership opportunities were afforded to the staff through an innovative initiative, the Leadership Internship Program. This job-embedded professional learning opportunity provided evidence of the system’s intent to build and retain leaders from within.
- The system had established partnerships with the city, county, Chamber of Commerce, and other community entities. They helped leverage resources to the more significant achievement of students and the effectiveness of the organization.
- School Walk Arounds began in 2014 and provided principals with opportunities to get “real-time” feedback from the Director and Associate Director of Schools.
The AdvancED Accreditation Process is a clear and comprehensive evaluation and external review program supported by research-based standards and dedicated to helping schools, districts, and education providers continuously improve. The FSSD chose to undergo system accreditation rather than school-by-school accreditation. According to AdvancED’s web site, “System accreditation has the power to nurture and support individual school improvement, and at the same time unify school improvement and align it with overall system improvement goals so that the system’s schools are moving in one direction together, on the same page.”
The City of Franklin, founded in 1799, was named after Benjamin Franklin, a close friend of Dr. Hugh Williamson, a member of the Continental Congress for whom Williamson County was named. For most of its first 180 years, Franklin was a tranquil, small county seat. In the years prior to the Civil War, Williamson County was one of the wealthiest counties in Tennessee and Franklin was the center of plantation economy. However, the Civil War devastated the economy. Union troops occupied the area for nearly three years. The Battle of Franklin was fought on November 30, 1864, and was one of the war’s bloodiest battles, costing more than 8,000 casualties and turning every home and building in town into a hospital. It took 120 years for the county’s economy to reach pre-war levels.
Today, Franklin is one of the wealthiest cities in one of the wealthiest counties in the United States. Approximately 78,000 people live in Franklin. In 2017, the U.S. Census ranked Franklin as the 8th fastest growing city in the Nation.
Located just 14 miles south of Nashville, the FSSD is located in the heart of Franklin, a city that has made a place for itself on the map for its blending of the traditional with the modern. Named the “Number One Small Town in Tennessee,” Franklin is an excellent place to work, live, raise children, or simply enjoy the history of a city that appreciates its beginnings.
You can see and experience Franklin's history by exploring the area. However, beginning in 2017, city and community leaders met to ensure a "fuller story" could be told about the proud heritage of the area's African American community. Because of their work, as well as support from the larger community, five educational markers have been placed near the city's Confederate soldier monument and around the square depicting the African American experience before and after the Battle of Franklin.
Franklin is a unique blend of history and progress. You’ll find the best of both worlds here: small-town charm and big-city sophistication. There are fascinating historical sites and museums, magnificent Antebellum and Victorian homes – plus our thriving downtown shopping area and the Cool Springs Galleria, unique dining and entertainment, and wonderful festivals. Franklin has grown from a very small, agricultural community into a strong blend of residential, commercial and corporate citizens. Franklin has spent millions to maintain the town’s Main Street so it reflects its historical surroundings and has garnered the prestigious “Great American Main Street Award” from the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1995. More recently, the City is a 2020 All-America City winner from the National Civic League.
Other awards and designations bestowed upon the City include:
- 30 Most Beautiful Main Streets Across America, Architectural Digest (Aug 2018)
- The South’s Prettiest Towns, Southern Living (March 2018)
- 10 Best Suburbs of 2017, BuzzFeed (Oct 2017)
- Best Places to Raise a Family, Elite Personal Finance (Aug 2017)
- #4 on Money Magazine’s Top 100 Best Places to Live (2017)
- 8th Fastest Growing City in Nation (U.S. Census 2017)
- Best Suburb in Tennessee, Business Insider (July 2016)
- 3rd Safest City in TN (Backgroundchecks.org 2016)
- Best Southern Town by Garden and Gun Magazine (2014)
- Best Place for Job Seekers (Nerd Wallet 2013)
- Top 10 for Historic Preservation (Preservation Network 2012)
- CNN Money’s Top 100 “Most Livable” Cities (2012)
- 2nd Most Business Friendly Cities in TN (Beacon Center 2012)
- Top 10 Places to Retire (Money Magazine)
- Bloomberg/Businessweek’s Top 10 Cities for Startups (2011)
- Most Romantic Main Street (National Trust for Historic Preservation 2010)
- Dozen Distinctive Destinations by the National Trust for Historic Preservation (2009)
- National Register Historic District (2009)
- Named one of the 1,000 Places To See in The USA and Canada Before You Die by New York Times best-selling travel author Patricia Schultz.
In order for Tennessee to reach its goals that all students have the knowledge and skills to successfully embark upon their chosen path in life, it is important that schools, districts, and the state develop strong plans for improvement that aim to incrementally move towards those long term goals. Therefore, all districts and schools in Tennessee are required to create a comprehensive improvement plan that is developed annually by a diverse group of stakeholders to drive prioritization of the work and associated funding decisions to improve educational opportunities for all students.
During the planning process, stakeholders are challenged to review various data points to identify the current needs of the district or school. Once the needs are identified, the planning team creates aligned goals, strategies, and action steps that align with the prioritized needs. All plans should be monitored regularly and revised based on students’ needs throughout the school year with input from the planning team.
For more information about the FSSD District Improvement Plan, please contact Pax Wiemers, Ed.D., Supervisor for Student Performance and Federal Programs.
- FSSD’s state achievement scores consistently rank it among the Top 10 of all 147 public school systems in Tennessee. The last reported scores (2019) indicated that the FSSD was 1 of only 8 in Tennessee to score in the top 10 for all tested subjects!
- FSSD also received an overall Composite Score of 5, on a 1-5 scale, for student growth in ELA/Literacy, Math and Social Studies based on the last reported state assessment data.
- The FSSD places a deliberate focus on personalized instruction tailored to meet each student’s individual needs.
- The district consistently meets and/or exceeds the state’s teacher-pupil ratio requirement of 1 to 20 in K-3rd grade, 1 to 25 in grades 4-6, and 1 to 30 in grades 7-8. In kindergarten through third grade, the ratio meets the state requirement of 1 to 20, while in fourth grade it exceeds the requirement with a 1 to 22 ratio (state requirement: 1 to 25), and in grades 5-8 it is 1 to 25 (state requirement: 1 to 30).
- Middle school students have the opportunity to participate in the Duke University Talent Search and both middle schools consistently have honorees at the state and national level.
- Students in grades 7 and 8 may take high school credited courses in Algebra I, Geometry, French I, or Spanish I, enabling them to earn as many as 3 high school credits.
- Each school has a fully staffed clinic to meet the health needs of all children. A District Nursing Coordinator supervises eight full-time licensed nursing positions.
- The FSSD and all schools are Heart Safe accredited by Project ADAM of Monroe Carell Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt with every site trained and prepared to respond to a cardiac emergency. Every school and central office has an AED.
- All schools and the Central Office are accredited by AdvancED (now Cognia), one of the most esteemed education accrediting agencies in the nation. In its last review (2018), the FSSD received a glowing review and was extended accreditation through 2023.
- The School Board is a seven-time Board of Distinction recipient from the Tennessee School Boards Association (TSBA) and the 2015 Tennessee School Board of the Year.
- Four of the six Board of Education members have received Master School Board Member status by achieving Level V accreditation from the TSBA. The Board chairman was appointed to the 2015 TSBA All-Tennessee School Board and was awarded the 2015 Tennessee School Board Member of the Year by TSBA.
- The average salary of instructional personnel in the FSSD is consistently in the top 10 in the state in most salary lanes. In 2019, the FSSD was #4 in the state for average bachelor’s salary and #5 in state for average master’s salary.
- Approximately 69 percent of the district’s faculty holds a master’s degree or higher (2018-2019 State Report Card).
- The FSSD’s expenditures per pupil are $14,869 – among the highest in the state. This figure is a standard of quality that illustrates the district’s commitment to providing high quality instruction and resources to its students (2018-2019 State Report Card).
- The FSSD holds an Aa1 (Exceptional) Financial Strength Rating classification by Moody’s, signifying the district’s commitment to responsible spending.
- FSSD students have unique opportunities to use and develop their talents in the visual and performing arts. The FSSD provides extraordinary funding for programs such as art, theater, vocal and instrumental music as part of the student’s academic day.
- A brand new Performing Arts Center for use by all FSSD schools is slated to be finished in 2022.
- The FSSD physical education program is recognized on both the state and national level as a model. One school is a state demonstration center and a second school is a national award winner for physical education. Students in grades K-4 receive daily physical education instruction.
- Special academic programs include the Honors program for high-ability learners in grades 5-8 as well as a program of services for gifted and talented students. Each school has an accelerated learning teacher who provides direct instruction to eligible students.
- The district is committed to early childhood education and has pre-kindergarten classes and a special education preschool in all of the elementary schools.
- The FSSD is committed to integrating technology at all grade levels and has three Instructional Technology Specialists.
- All students in grades K-8 have a 1:1 device-to-student ratio with access to a district Chromebook or Chrome tablet.
- The FSSD operates a low-cost Morning and Afternoon Care (MAC) program for children five days a week and during most holidays and summer break. MAC is a self-sustaining program that provides enrichment, tutoring, and extra-curricular activities for its students.
- The FSSD operates an employee child care education center for children of working parents. The MAC program oversees the center, called WeeMAC, which serves children ages 6 weeks through preschool and is self-sustaining.
- The FSSD is committed to student safety and all schools have secure access through an office vestibule, monitored at all times by district staff. Cameras monitored by office staff are also present in all buildings.
- The FSSD’s chronically out of school percentage is only 4.7 compared to the state average of 13.3% (2018-2019 State Report Card).
- FSSD students taking Algebra I or Geometry as a high school credit course have achieved at least a 95% success rate on the high school end of course (EOC) exam since its inception.
- The district has made a priority of not charging academic fees for supplies students need for core classes or related arts. No supplemental fees are required of parents.
- The district believes that summer instruction can be beneficial to both high ability and low ability learners. The district offers the Young Scholars Institute for students who choose enrichment activities and Summer Learning Camp for those who benefit from extra support over the summer. In addition, the district helps support Gentry Educational Foundation for youth in the community to receive academic remediation and/or enrichment, as well as instruction in many fun and diverse extra-curricular classes.
The Franklin Special School District holds the following beliefs:
- An excellent teaching and learning environment where success is celebrated is essential.
- Learning thrives in an environment where differing viewpoints are respected.
- Everyone can learn when instruction is differentiated to meet individual needs.
- Every individual is valued and respected.
- Parents must be actively engaged in the education of their children.
- Challenging fine arts curricula and strong physical education programs are necessary to enhance the whole learner.
- Curricula should be rigorous and relevant to real life.
- Life-long learning is inspired by creating an atmosphere of curiosity.
- Parental and community involvement is essential to successful schools.
Great schools are central to strong communities!
The Franklin Special School District will systematically seek to:
- Develop a community of learners that emphasizes academics along with kindness, encouragement, caring, and compassion.
- Provide a comprehensive array of instructional programs and experiences for students that focus on all essential areas of education and child development.
- Encourage collaboration and shared decision making involving teachers, administrators, support staff, parents, and community members.
- Emphasize continuous improvement and a constant search for better ways of educating students and managing the school district in an effective and efficient manner