Shelby County Schools
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Instructional Services



Early Childhood & Elementary Education

Middle & Secondary Education

Special Education


Instructional Specialists

Curriculum Technology Trainers

SCS Libraries & Media

Curriculum Overview

Advanced Placement

Career - Technical Education

Department of Exceptional Children

Extra-Curricular Activities



The Shelby County School District offers a comprehensive instructional program for approximately 45,000 students enrolled in grades K-12. The district is dedicated to the belief that each student is a unique person. The Shelby County School System tries to maximize the achievement of each and every student by offering extensions of classroom instruction in every school. Success-oriented learning experiences are utilized to encourage each student to reach his or her maximum potential - intellectually, socially, emotionally, physically, aesthetically, and morally.

All elementary schools provide curricula that emphasize the development of basic skills and make provisions for development beyond the basics through appropriate classroom and enrichment activities. All instruction centers around the new state standards. Creative thinking and problem solving strategies are interwoven across the curriculum. Full day kindergarten programs and special programs for students who need reinforcement and students who are academically gifted are available.

Each high school provides students with academic and vocational course offerings designed to prepare them for post-secondary education and/or employment. Although heavy emphasis is placed upon the core curriculum in English, math, science, foreign languages, and fine arts, numerous alternative academic and elective vocational courses are offered. Each high school has a unique program developed to meet the needs of its student body.

The Shelby County School System works diligently to lay a firm foundation at the elementary level. Instruction is offered in research, library, and technology skills. To build on that foundation, a wide range of Advanced Placement courses and career-technical paths are offered. The Shelby County School District strives to meet the academic needs of today's students.

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The Shelby County School System recognizes that telecommunications and other new technologies have transformed the ways that information may be accessed and communicated. Students benefit greatly from the rich informational resources available by access to the Internet. Information research skills have become a necessary part of the educational process so students are able to effectively utilize the 10,000 plus computers in our school system. Personnel who are designated as Technology Teachers must complete a minimum of 15 hours of training. Those designated as 21st Century Teachers must complete an additional 30 hours of technology training. The primary focus of technology in Shelby County Schools is the use of computers and the Internet as integral tools for instruction. The instructional staff blends thoughtful use of the Internet throughout the curriculum and provides guidance and instruction to students in its use. As much as possible, access from school to Internet resources are structured in ways which point students to those sources suited to learning objectives.

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The Advanced Placement Program consists of college-level courses and exams that give high school students the opportunity to receive advanced placement and/or credit in college. AP courses are introductory college courses, so they are more time-consuming and more difficult, but they give a greater opportunity to master a subject and to explore it in greater depth. Students who enroll in an Advanced Placement course are required to take the examination. The College Board does charge for the AP Exam. Course offerings vary from high school to high school. Specific course offerings are listed on the home page of each area high school.

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Basic vocational courses are offered in every Shelby County high school curriculum. Each high school's vocational program is tailored to the needs, talents, and interests of that school's student population. The following programs are available to students 9-12; however, each school's home page will give further information concerning programs operating on its campus.

Air-Cooled Engine Technology
Applied Communication
Automotive Mechanical Technology
Cabinet Making
Careers with Children
Career Management Success
Collision Repair Technology
Computer Repair
Consumer & Homemaking
Diversified Technology
Electricity/Electronic Technology

Food Management Career
Graphic Arts Technology
Health Science
Marketing Education
Math for Technology
Metal Technology
Office Technology
Principles of Technology
Residential Construction Technology
Technology Education (Drafting)
Technology Education (Wood)
Vocational Drafting

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Shelby County Schools is committed to addressing the needs of our students. In order to achieve our mission, our system offers a wide range of special education programs for special needs students, the APEX program for the intellectually gifted, ESL for those students who speak English as a second language, and a multitude of extra curricular activities which allow students to explore, grow, and compete in areas outside the classroom.

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The Shelby County Board of Education provides educational services for eligible students with disabilities ages 3 to 21. Preschool classes for eligible children with disabilities ages 3-5 are also available.

Shelby County Schools offers a wide variety of services for students with special needs. Services in speech, occupational, and physical therapy are also provided in every school. We have preschool classes for students with disabilities in 11 locations. We no longer have a special school for disabled students, as we prefer to locate students in their home schools or as close to home as possible. More information on our various services can be obtained by contacting general information on the SCS Home Page.


Did you know that federal funds may be used to support students with disabilities who attend private or home schools?

Shelby County Schools provides limited services to support students with disabilities who do not attend public schools. If you would like to know more about this opportunity, please contact the Special Education Division at 901-321-2710, or send your request along with your name, phone number, and address to:

Ms. Beth Schermerhorn
Shelby County Schools
Special Education Division
5650 Woodlawn St.
Bartlett, TN 38134


Programs & Services

Evaluations and Reevaluations

My child has never received special education services, but I suspect a problem. What do I do?
In this case, simply contact your child’s school and ask that they pursue an assessment. It is necessary to be as specific as possible about the types of problems you see your child experiencing. This is needed so that it can be determined what professionals need to be involved and the extent of the assessment that will be needed. Some problems can be solved simply by bringing them to the attention of everyone involved. Others will require full evaluations. Either way, the school is the best place to start.

If your child is not enrolled in a Shelby County school, or you are not satisfied that the problems have been dealt with at the local school level, contact the Division of Special Education at (901-321-2710).

How often must my child be reevaluated?
Current law requires that a reevaluation occur at least every three years. The extent of this reevaluation is determined by the IEP team. In many cases, additional testing will not be required.

IEP-Teams and IEPs

What is an IEP-Team?
This simply refers to the group of individuals at the school level who will meet to discuss your child’s needs, develop and review plans, and decide what placement will best meet his/her needs. Typically, the IEP-Team will consist of the school principal or his/her designee, your child’s teacher (or teachers), a special education teacher, and the parent/guardian. At times, others may be a part of the team. Other individuals might include: speech pathologists; physical therapists; occupational therapists; specialist teachers like art, music, and physical education teachers; and even the student. The parents/guardians may bring anyone to the IEP-Team that they feel can assist them in the process.

When should the IEP-Team meet?
The IEP-Team will meet when your child is initially placed in a special education program at least annually thereafter. However, any member of the IEP-Team, including parent/guardian, may ask for the team to reconvene at any time.

What is an IEP? Is it the same as an IFSP?
An IEP is an Individualized Education Program. It is developed on an annual basis and provides the guidance for the provision of special education services for your student. Present levels of performance lead to the development of appropriate goals and objectives for the coming year. The IEP also spells out what, if any, related services will be required for your child to benefit from his/her special education program.

An IFSP is an Individualized Family Service Plan, and it is developed for students below the age of 3. Early intervention service providers work closely with families to develop a plan for the types of services that are needed to give the infant/toddler the early intervention he/she requires. IFSPs or parts of them, can sometimes be used in place of an IEP. In Shelby County we have usually preferred to use the IFSP for guidance but to develop a new IEP appropriate for the school setting.

What is a Transition Plan?
Transition plans are required by law to be included as a part of the IEP for students age 16 and older. They may be written for students at an even younger age if the IEP-Team feels it is appropriate. The Transition Plan is intended to provide guidance for the IEP-Team and the family in seeking the appropriate services and preparing for life after the student exits the school system.

Moving to Shelby County with a Special Needs Student?

Memphis and Shelby County are two separate school districts. Geographical location will determine which district will provide services for your child. Your real estate agent can provide that information, or you can call the main offices of either school system with your exact address in the greater Memphis area. This website also has a “School Zone Locator” feature. Providing a full copy of the student’s record of special education services will be required. This can be accomplished either by signing a release of information at your present school and asking that the records be forwarded to the above address or by securing a release form from our offices for that purpose. Either way, your signature will be required before records will be released. School systems across the country handle records differently, so you should allow plenty of time for records to be copied and mailed to Shelby County Schools, Waiting until you actually move to Shelby County before requesting the records may slow down the process of records transfer.

If you have records sent ahead before your family actually moves, please ask the sender to identify the child and the proposed address in Shelby County. We occasionally get records with no identification and have no way of acting upon the records or contacting the parent/guardian. Be sure to have copies of your child’s birth certificate, social security card, immunization record, proof of residence (Policy #6103) and record of custody (if applicable). These will be needed for enrollment into the public school system.

Will my child be able to start school right away?
You have the right to enroll your child in a public school upon meeting the regular enrollment requirements (proof of in-district residence, current immunizations, birth certificate and social security numbers). However, it is not possible to provide special education services until eligibility is determined. This is done by a review of records and/or additional testing followed by a meeting of the IEP Team members.

We in Shelby County Schools pride ourselves on working very hard to get students enrolled in the appropriate special education programs as quickly as possible. We assure you that we will make every effort to assist you in this process.

What happens after I send the special education records?
An appropriate professional reviews the records and makes a determination as to whether the previously completed testing meets the standards set forth by the State of Tennessee for identification of a disability. A brief report is then compiled and the student’s record is sent to the proposed school. The school then contacts the family to arrange for an IEP Team meeting to discuss the student’s needs, develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP), and determine placement.

If the records review results in a determination that the records are not current or not adequate for state standards, the parent/guardian will be contacted to arrange additional testing.

What is APEX?

APEX (Academic Program for the Exceptional) is a special education service designed for students in the Shelby County School System who meet the criteria for intellectually gifted students in the state of Tennessee.

APEX emphasizes: critical and creative thinking; research and study skills; problem-solving; decision making; communication skills; leadership skills; and development of students as self-motivated, life-long learners. Students apply these processes in the development of quality products within a curriculum rich in academic content.

Terms Used
IEP Team is a multidisciplinary team composed of parents, teachers, administrators, and other professionals who meet together to determine if the student is eligible for special education services. The IEP Team also develops the student's individualized education plan.

IEP is the Individualized Education Plan designed to meet the educational needs of the student. The IEP Team meets to discuss and develop the IEP.

Curriculum Compacting involves modification of the regular curriculum by replacing previously mastered material with opportunities to extend learning through enrichment.

Specific Information
A copy of the procedural rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is sent to parents with notification of the IEP Team meeting and is provided at the IEP Team meeting. Rights include such items as notification of parents concerning IEP Team meetings, role of the IEP Team in development of the IEP, evaluation procedures, and rights concerning the review of information. Parents are encouraged to become familiar with this document and ask questions for clarification.

Placement and Classes
The initial IEP Team meeting is scheduled to discuss the results and recommendations from the psychological evaluation. The student's educational needs are discussed and the IEP is completed to reflect these needs. Minutes of the meeting are read, placement and permission forms explained, and all documents are signed by members of the IEP Team. IEP Team meetings are scheduled annually to review the student's educational program and develop an IEP. An IEP Team meeting may be scheduled prior to the annual review, if necessary, by calling the school.

APEX classes begin in third grade for students who are identified as intellectually gifted according to the criteria for the state of Tennessee. Pull-out classes meet weekly in third through fifth grades with curriculum designed to address educational needs in the student's IEP. Critical and creative thinking skills are emphasized through experiences related to academic content and products reflect learning at the student's intellectual ability level.

APEX students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades may participate in selected Enriched classes daily with "Seminar" classes offered by the APEX teacher each nine weeks. Eighth grade students also may participate in an "Introduction to Foreign Language" class. . Recommendations for enrollment in Enriched Classes are determined on an individual basis.

APEX students in high school are encouraged to enroll in Honors and Advanced Placement courses. An APEX consulting teacher meets with students and parents to assist with course selection and future planning and to guide the development of the IEP.

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Students in the Shelby County Schools are offered a wide variety of extra-curricular activities. Elementary schools offer activities such as Odyssey of the Mind and hands on science. Middle school organizations may include Beta Club, National Junior Honor Society, Student Council, Science of the Mind, Science Olympiad, Math Counts, Geography Bee, spelling bees, and Wordsmith. A wide spectrum of academic, vocational, and service clubs are available for our high school students. These may include National Honor Society, Beta Club, Student Government, Key Club, P.R.I.D.E., Fellowship of Christian Athletes, foreign language clubs, yearbook, and newspaper. Depending on talent, interest, and needs, the clubs offered will vary school to school.

A wide range of sports programs and team competitions are offered. School sponsored teams begin in middle school and continue through the high school level. Middle schools offer basketball and cheerleading. High school sports for boys include football, soccer, basketball, baseball, tennis, golf, cross country, track and wrestling. Girls sports include volleyball, soccer, golf, basketball, softball, cross country, tennis, and track. Cheerleading and pom-pon squads are also a part of the numerous activities offered. Available sports are listed on each individual school's home page.

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