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Memphis' Turnaround Chief Tapped to Lead Statewide Improvement Effort

Tennessee's department of education this week picked Sharon Griffin to lead the state's school turnaround efforts, turning to a rising Memphis-based star whose own districtwide turnaround efforts have outpaced the state's. 

Griffin received a Leaders to Learn From Education Week in 2016.  

Her hiring by the state, which came in a surprise announcement Tuesday after several behind-closed-doors meetings, served as a salve for the state's beleaguered Achievement School District which oversees more than 30 schools. The district's test scores have backslid in recent years, several of its staff members were laid off amid budget cuts, and several charter operators have pulled out of the ambitious experiment to improve the state's worst-performing schools in under five years. 

But it's also a big loss for the Shelby County School District, which oversees the bulk of Tennessee's worst-performing schools. Griffin, who previously oversaw the district's Innovation Zone, was promoted last year to serve as the district's chief of schools.  

Griffin, a Memphis native, became widely known for her hard-charging, no-nonsense leadership style that included direct, specific, and practical feedback that teachers and principals came to love. Her new title will be  assistant commissioner of school turnaround and chief of the Achievement School District. 

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