Tennessee has a rich history and a unique blend of cultures, from the blues scene in Memphis to the “country music capital of the world” in Nashville. It is home to nearly 6,910,840 residents, per the 2020 decennial census. The state also has a pull from its well-developed public education system that serves almost one million K-12 students.
The Tennessee Department of Education oversees the system with over 184 operating school districts in charge of 1,906 schools serving roughly 996,709 kids in K-12. The state is also home to some of the largest schools in the nation, serving multiple thousands of kids at a time.
This blog post will explore the 13 largest schools in Tennessee and their unique educational offerings. We’ll look into the students’ experiences, class sizes, academic performance, graduation rates, faculty experience, and much more.
Here are the 13 biggest schools in Tennessee by student enrollment, from elementary level through college.
Karns Elementary School
8108 Beaver Ridge Rd, Knoxville, TN 37931
Karns Elementary is an average-performing public school under the Knox County School District. It is one of the state’s largest elementary schools, hosting over 1,260 preK through fifth-grade students and over 160 staff.
The preschool classes are in the Karns Annex, across the street from the main school. The main school’s west wing hosts the kindergarten through second grades, while the east wing hosts the third through fifth grades. The student’s performance on state assessments is below the state average, with 31% gaining proficiency in English and 21% in math.
Students in kindergarten through fifth grade enjoy rotational enrichment programs in P.E., art, and music for four days a week and library and computer every eight days. The school has 77 full-time teachers, with a student-teacher ratio of 17:1.
91% of the teachers have over three years of experience, and all full-time are state-certified. The faculty team is more than qualified to educate your child. The school also has a nurse, psychologist, social worker, security guard, and law enforcement officer on its staff.
1870 North Pkwy, Memphis, TN 38112
Snowden Elementary/Middle is a public school in a large city setting in Memphis. The school is under the Shelby County School District. The school is one of the largest in the state, serving roughly 1,288 kindergarten through eighth-grade kids. The majority of the students are in the elementary section.
The school offers numerous educational offerings, including college prep courses for high school credit, such as Spanish Ⅰ, Algebra Ⅰ, and Physical Science. The student’s performance in state assessment tests is below the state average. Only 27% of students gained proficiency in English and 17% in math.
Snowden Elementary/Middle offers numerous elective programs to enrich its curriculum, including choir, piano, orchestra, visual art, CLUE, STEM, and band. It also has a robust extracurricular program with 14 clubs and organizations and seven athletic teams.
The school has over 110 faculty and staff, with a student-teacher ratio of roughly 16:1. The teachers are highly qualified, with 84% having over three years of experience and 99% holding state-approved certifications.
Tennessee Connections Academy K-8
117 Edenway Dr, White House, TN 37188
Founded in 2019, the Tennessee Connections Academy K-8 is a tuition-free online school that is an excellent choice for students wishing to have greater control over their learning experience. The school is home to roughly 1,487 kids in kindergarten through eighth grade.
The Northwest Accreditation Commission and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement, accrediting divisions of Cognia, accredit the school. Students set their schedules, tailoring their courses and learning outcomes alongside teachers and their parents.
Parents act as “learning coaches,” closely monitoring the kids’ educational milestones and providing the necessary support to succeed. Students have access to teachers through the LiveLesson® sessions and receive personalized feedback depending on their Personalized Performance Learning® (PPL) goals.
The school also has a gifted and accelerated learning program that suits academically-gifted kids. Your gifted child can choose to accelerate their learning by picking and adjusting to courses that challenge them, and the teachers and parents provide the necessary support.
Tennessee Virtual Academy
1924 Dutch Valley Dr., Suite 1, Knoxville, TN 37918
The Tennessee Virtual Academy is a public online school sponsored by Union County Public Schools. The school is the largest elementary school in the state, with 3,036 kids in kindergarten through eighth grade. The school offers a unique curriculum through the K-12 Stride curricula offerings, where students set their academic goals and targets.
Parents act as “learning coaches,” closely following up on their child’s educational progress. The typical learning coach commitment time for K-6 students is four to six hours. After sixth grade, the students are more independent, with parents requiring less input.
The students demonstrate their grasp of knowledge and skills through standardized tests. According to state assessments, 22% of students at the school perform at or above grade level in reading and 14% in math. The school also has a talented and accelerated program for students interested in accelerating their learning and receiving an adequate level of challenge to match their abilities.
Northeast Middle School
3703 Trenton Rd, Clarksville, TN 37040
Northeast Middle is an above-average public school in a mid-size city setting in Clarksville. The school is one of the largest in the state, serving approximately 1,368 kids in sixth, seventh, and eighth grade. The school earns an overall 5/10 rating from GreatSchools.org.
The school offers a rigorous academic program with numerous rotational electives throughout the year. Students at Northeast Middle perform similarly to their peers across the state, with only a fraction performing at or above their grade level in common core units. 24% of the students attained proficiency in math and 23% in English.
The school also has an active after-school program that encourages students to participate in extracurricular activities. Students can join clubs and organizations such as math club, national history day, and yearbook. The school also has a girl’s basketball team and a cross-country team.
Northeast Middle has 77 full-time instructors, with one teacher for every seventeen kids. The faculty is also highly qualified, with all full-time teachers holding certifications and 85% having over three years of teaching experience.
Rossview Middle School
2265 Cardinal Ln, Clarksville, TN 37043
Rossview Middle School is an above-average school in the Montgomery County School District. It serves roughly 1,493 sixth, seventh, and eighth-grade students, making it one of the largest middle schools in the state. The school has a 43% minority enrollment, playing a critical role in filling the equality gap.
Rossview Middle received a 6/10 overall rating from GreatSchools.org, with Niche.com ranking it the sixth best middle school in Montgomery County. Test scores at the school are far above the state average, with 42% of students attaining proficiency in English and math. 63% performed at or above grade level in social studies.
The school has over 79 full-time teachers serving the kids, with the student-teacher ratio averaging 17:1. 95% of the teachers have over three years of teaching experience, and all full-time are certified. Students at Rossview Middle can participate in various extracurricular activities, including boys’ and girls’ basketball teams, girls’ volleyball, and the cross-country team.
Blackman Middle School
3945 Blaze Dr, Murfreesboro, TN 37128
The largest middle school in Tennessee is the Blackman Middle School in the Rutherford County School District. It has a student population of 1,596 sixth and eighth-grade students. The school has 85 full-time teachers to serve the kids, with an average student-teacher ratio of 18:1.
The school consistently ranks among the best in the school district, with Niche.com ranking it the seventh-best public middle school in Rutherford County. Students at the school excel on standardized test scores, with 47% attaining proficiency in math and 41% in English.
The school offers numerous elective programs, allowing students to choose from art, technology, physical education, piano, STEM, and band. Blackman Middle has 19 athletic teams, and 14 clubs and societies students can join.
The faculty team is highly experienced, with 94% having over three years of teaching experience. Additionally, 97% of the full-time instructors are certified. The school also has a nurse, social worker, psychologist, and law enforcement officer on staff.
Barry Tatum Academy
205 Stumpy Ln, Lebanon, TN 37090
Barry Tatum Academy is a public online school serving fifth through twelfth-grade students. The school is sponsored by the Wilson County School District and has a student population of 2,665 kids.
The school offers a unique hybrid approach to education, with a physical campus in a building on Stumpy Lane. Students can also take online courses, with teachers providing virtual lessons.
Students at the school perform relatively poorly on standardized tests. Only 10% of the students attained proficiency in math and 30% in reading. The school has 99 full-time teachers, with an average student-teacher ratio of 27:1.
All the teachers at the school have over three years of teaching experience. They also hold professional certifications approved by the state. The school has a minority enrollment of 39%, helping bridge the equity gap in Tennessee schools.
Bartlett High School
5688 Woodlawn St, Bartlett, TN 38134
Founded in 1917, Bartlett High School is the second-largest high school in the state. It is home to roughly 2,839 students in ninth through twelfth grade. The school has a separate campus for ninth graders at the Bartlett Ninth Grade Academy.
Bartlett High offers a range of college preparatory programs and technical courses. The school boasts a 96% high school graduation rate, with 75% of the graduates proceeding to college. 80% returned for a second year in college, speaking highly of Bartlett High’s commitment to preparing the students for college life and beyond.
The honors program, 18 advanced placement courses, and dual credit classes allow the students to earn college credits while still in high school. 13% of the students participate in the A.P. program, while 3% enroll in dual enrollment classes.
The school has one teacher for every twenty students. 93% of the faculty team have over three years of teaching experience. All full-time teachers are certified. The school also has a full-time nurse and law enforcement officer on staff.
Collierville High School
11605 E Shelby Dr, Collierville, TN 38017
Collierville High, founded in 1905, is the largest high school in Tennessee, with a student population of 2,855 in ninth through twelfth grade. The school is a top-performing school with unique course offerings. GreatSchools.org gave the school an overall 9/10 rating.
Collierville High has a four-year high school graduation rate of 96%. 87% of the graduates proceeded to college, with 84% of those enrolled returning for a second year. The school’s college preparatory education is also visible through its 23 average composite scores for the ACT, with 99% of the students sitting for the exams.
The school offers 24 advanced placement courses, with 66% participating. It also has over 40 dual credit courses in partnership with four post-secondary institutions. 15% of the students participate in the dual enrollment programs, with an opportunity to earn college credits while in high school.
The school has over 151 full-time teachers, with one teacher for every eighteen students. All full-time teachers are certified, and 91% of the instructors have over three years of teaching experience. The school also has a nurse and a full-time law enforcement officer.
Middle Tennessee State University
1301 E Main St, Murfreesboro, TN 37132
Middle Tennessee State University is a public four-year university in Murfreesboro. Founded in 1910, the university has eight undergrad colleges and a graduate school that serve roughly 21,568 students.
The school offers over 300 degree programs through 35 departments. It has a 68.4% admissions rate, generally admitting students that score in the top 58% in standardized tests. The average freshman has a GPA of 3.64.
The tuition cost for Tennessee residents is $7,344, with out-of-state students paying roughly $26,376. 98% of students benefit from financial aid, with an average aid package of $9,178 per student.
Notable Middle Tennessee State University Alumni
Notable Middle Tennessee State University alumni include:
- Jayhawk Owens, former catcher for the Colorado Rockies
- Richie James, wide receiver for the Kansas City Chiefs
- Dewon Brazelton, former pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays and San Diego Padres
- Brice Long, country music artist
- Sean McConnell, singer and songwriter
- Hillary Scott, lead singer for the band Lady A
- Chris Young, country music artist
- Lane Davies, actor
- Sondra Locke, actor and director
- Robert Rochelle, Tennessee State Senator for over 30 years
- Brett Eldredge, country music artist
University of Memphis
3720 Alumni Ave, Memphis, TN 38152
The University of Memphis is Tennessee’s second-largest institution of learning, with 21,622 students. The school was founded in 1912 and is classified as a research institution under the Carnegie classification.
The school has a 95% acceptance rate, with most students having a high chance of getting admitted if they score within the top 59% on standardized tests. The average student admitted has a 3.46 GPA.
The University of Memphis charges $8,352 in annual tuition fees to Tennessee residents and $12,384 to out-of-state students. 98% of full-time students receive financial aid, with the aid package averaging $10,776 per student.
Notable University of Memphis Alumni
Notable University of Memphis alumni include:
- Steve Cohen, U.S. Representative
- Spurgeon Neel, former Major General in the U.S. Army who pioneered aeromedical evacuation
- Mulgrew Miller, jazz pianist
- Fred Thompson, former U.S. Senator
- Dan Uggla, former second baseman who played for a number of MLB teams
- Jason Isbell, singer and songwriter
- Stephen Gostkowski, former placekicker for the New England Patriots
- Dixie Carter, actress
- Edmund Warren Perry, author and museum expert
The University of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN 37996
The University of Tennessee in Knoxville is the largest college by student enrollment in the state. It is home to over 31,701 students. The school is a public, land-grant research university founded in 1794, two years before Tennessee became a state.
The university has a 74.9% acceptance rate, with admissions to the school being moderately competitive. The school typically admits students with a “B+” grade with an average GPA of 3.66.
The annual tuition fee for a Tennessee resident is $11,332, and $29,522 for out-of-state students. 89% of students receive financial aid, with an average of $10,565 per student.
Notable University of Tennessee Alumni
Notable University of Tennessee alumni include:
- Jim Justice, 36th governor of West Virginia
- Arian Foster, former running back for the Houston Texans
- Bob Corker, former U.S. Senator
- Scott Kelly, astronaut
- Jason Witten, former tight end for the Dallas Cowboys
- Kurt Vonnegut, author
- Alvin Kamara, running back for the New Orleans Saints
- Allen West, former chair of the Texas Republican Party
- Todd Helton, former first baseman with the Colorado Rockies
Finding the Right School for Your Child
Tennessee is a state with a robust education system with numerous prestigious schools. It is also home to some of the largest schools in the nation. The schools have unique course offerings, with some operating fully online while others have a traditional curriculum.
Some of the schools mentioned in this list, such as Collierville and Bartlett, are high-performing schools that would be an excellent fit for your child. Keep in mind that the right school for your kids should match their unique learning needs and interests.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©iStock.com/Wavebreakmedia.