Music (and Arts) Education District Support Services™
Tennessee Statewide Study

“Thank you for the hands-on approach from MHOF…through MEDSS you have made our district feel like a partner in a journey of discovery about ourselves.”
District Arts Supervisor

MEDSS – TN State of the Arts Study

The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation (MHOF) conducted a comprehensive statewide assessment of music and arts education programs (dance, media arts, music, theatre and visual arts) throughout Tennessee school districts using MHOF’s Music (and Arts) Education District Support Services (MEDSS™). MEDSS is a revolutionary districtwide assessment that utilizes data and teacher feedback to identify and address the challenges and barriers creating inequities for student access and participation in music and arts programming.

Generously funded by the CMA Foundation, the MEDSS assessment was provided at no cost to districts that opted-in to the voluntary study. Twenty-three (23) districts (16% of Tennessee districts) participated in the assessment representing 589 schools and almost 400,000 students, approximately 41% of the total K-12 student population in Tennessee.

Participating districts include:

  • Arlington Community Schools 
  • Bartlett City Schools
  • Benton County Schools
  • Chester County Schools
  • Clarksville-Montgomery County School System
  • Coffee County School District
  • Germantown Municipal School District
  • Giles County School System
  • Greene County Schools 
  • Hamilton County Schools
  • Jackson-Madison County School System
  • Knox County Schools
  • Lincoln County Schools
  • Marion County Schools
  • Maury County Public Schools
  • Metro Nashville Public Schools
  • Paris Special School District
  • Robertson County Schools
  • Rutherford County Schools
  • Tullahoma City Schools
  • Weakley County Schools
  • Williamson County School
  • Wilson County School

Tennessee Success Stories and Impact

After the presentation of their individualized MEDSS findings supported by MHOF recommendations, districts were encouraged to adopt effective strategies to tackle the issues identified and to make strategic investments in programs, staff, and resources, thereby enhancing access to music and arts education programs. 

MHOF and the CMA Foundation partnered to support participating school districts across Tennessee that are committed to providing resources and solutions to address MEDSS findings. With generous funding from the CMA Foundation, the MHOF/CMA partnership resulted in $1.1 million worth of musical instrument and equipment grants to over 70 schools to assist districts in this work.

Tennessee Bright Spots

The following success stories represent examples from six Tennessee districts that have embraced MEDSS findings and recommendations and have made a strong commitment to implementing promising practices and strategic investments to strengthen music and arts education programs.

Chester County Schools (Henderson, TN)

The MEDSS assessment revealed a sequential gap in instruction for elementary students who were promoted to a middle school where there had not been a music program for 10 years. In response, the district hired a music teacher, CMA/MHOF donated instruments valued at approximately $50,000 and a middle school music program was implemented. Students throughout Chester County now have access to sequential K–12 music education.

“I cannot express enough how thankful we are for the hard work and care you have brought to little Chester County. Because of you, we have a brand new fine arts teacher and music supplies that will enhance the music education experience for our students.” Chester County Schools Music Teacher 

Coffee County Schools (Manchester, TN)

MEDSS revealed elementary teachers were stretched thin teaching across multiple campuses with restrictive and inequitable scheduling and music class frequency. The district added an elementary teacher to resolve this issue. For the first time in 20 years, the district purchased curriculum and instructional materials for the elementary music teachers as a result of needs identified by teachers through the MEDSS assessment.

Speaking of the district’s recent discussions and prioritization of music and the arts, a Coffee County music teacher remarked, “I’m just glad the questions are finally being asked and I completely believe that has to do with MHOF’s MEDSS assessment of our district because it opened so many eyes.” 

Metro Nashville Public Schools (Nashville, TN)

The State of the Arts Study represents the district’s second MEDSS assessment. The following represent achievements as a result of MNPS’s first MEDSS assessment: After learning that the string inventory was not accounted for in the centralized inventory platform, string instruments were added. 57 schools (35 elementary, 18 middle and 4 high schools) were identified as having instruments that are not related to the type of music programming offered, the arts department prioritized visiting those schools to assess inventory, meet with teachers, and provide support in the repairing, surplusage, or reallocation of instruments. MEDSS results were used by the arts department to advocate for $4 MM of ESSER funds, a portion of which were allocated to implement string programs in schools where MEDSS identified a sequential gap in K–12 programming. Currently, in partnership with MHOF, the district is working to prioritize findings and recommendations from this most recent MEDSS assessment to address existing gaps in K–12 sequential programming for students.

Robertson County Schools (Springfield, TN)

The Robertson County arts department utilized MEDSS findings and recommendations to support a recurring district general fund allocation of $70,000 to fund instruments, equipment, and instructional needs, curriculum, and funding districtwide events, as well as allocating over $18,000 in Federal Title I funds to strengthen the music and arts program at a middle school. Additionally, the arts department used findings to advocate for $115,000 of ESSER relief funding for instruments, instructional materials, interventions for learning loss, and instructional technology. MHOF is currently working with the district to address the greatest areas of need for a grant of musical instruments and equipment as identified by MEDSS.

Rutherford County Schools (Murfreesboro, TN)

MEDSS revealed that English Language Learner (ELL) students were not enrolled in music across several middle schools throughout the district. The district identified it was due to intervention classes taking place at the same time as music. MHOF worked with the teachers and principal at one of the district’s middle schools, who prioritized adding an extra class period so ELL students can participate in music, serving as a model for other schools. Additionally, MHOF granted musical instruments and equipment valued at $187,000 to support the district’s music programs across six high schools.

“The MEDSS assessment gave us rich, quantifiable data to illustrate the current state of our arts programs and point us toward priorities for the coming years. The results were incredibly valuable when updating our strategic plan for arts education,” said the Fine Arts Coordinator for Rutherford County Schools. “The MEDSS/CMAF grants will allow us to be strategic with our resources and ensure maximum impact…[and] have provided much-needed relief in the purchasing of large, expensive instruments that are needed for quality programs. This will allow us to invest more resources over the next few years toward priorities we have identified through our MEDSS results, such as intentionally providing support to ensure economically disadvantaged students have equitable access to music and arts education.”

Tullahoma City Schools (Tullahoma, TN)

To address school needs for equipment and materials as identified by MEDSS, the district committed $50,000 towards the purchase of instruments and art materials. Additionally, the district supplied resources identified to support English Language Learners and Special Education students in the classroom (i.e. access to individualized student education plans, relevant professional development, assistive technology, culturally-diverse lesson planning, etc.). Lastly, the district has committed to implementing a centralized inventory system for music and arts equipment. Through the generosity of the CMA Foundation, MHOF granted musical instruments and equipment valued at almost $98,000 to support the district’s music programs across seven schools and to support implementation of the new inventory system. 



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