2019-20
2020-21
2021-22
2022-23
2023-24
2024-25
2025-26
2026-27
2017-21 Cycle 3 4
2021-25 Cycle -1 0 1 2 3 4
2025-29 Cycle -1 0 1 2

Spring of Year -1
Preliminary Research/Planning

Prepare classification plans for discussion. The work product at this stage varies between short written descriptions of proposed plans to full computer-generated sample alignments. These items may be submitted by schools or state office staff. Any proposals at this stage are prepared using the most recent enrollment figures gathered (Fall of School Year -2).

June of Year -1
Selection of Classification Plans

The Board of Control, a 12-member body of school administrators elected by the member school principals in their locale, meets to select the classification plan for the next four-year cycle. Additional meetings are sometimes scheduled to review and discuss proposals in anticipation of a final vote by the Board in the Summer of Year -1.

When a classification plan is selected by the Board of Control, the state office distributes details of the chosen plan to all member schools. This communication also includes a timeline for the execution of the classification plan.

September of Year 0
Request for Enrollments

The state office mails a letter to all public school systems requesting a report for each of the district's schools detailing the average daily membership (ADM) by grade as of the 20th day of the school year. This form is one submitted to the State Department of Education and is commonly referred to as the Director's Monthly Membership/Attendance Report. A copy of this letter is also emailed to all member public schools.

The state office also requests similar information from all member independent schools so that enrollment figures from all schools are based on a 20th day membership number.

Board policy is to compare member schools in a consistent manner based on a full four-grade enrollment figure (9-12 grade). For member schools that are not 9-12 grade, the enrollments for grades levels that are present are averaged to estimate what the school would have if all four grades were present. Likewise, all-boys or all-girls schools have their enrollment multiplied by two for classification purposes. The number of non-graded students are also included in the total enrollment for classification.

Districts and schools are given at least two full weeks to submit the requested information. The deadline normally falls on the Friday of the second full week of September.

September (Last Two Weeks) of Year 0
Complete and Publish Enrollment Report

As enrollment information is received from district offices and independent schools, TSSAA publishes on its website a list of schools for which enrollment information has been received. The list is updated daily and includes the date each report was received.

The state office will individually contact any member schools for which enrollment information has not been received. After all enrollment figures have been received, the enrollment of all schools are then published publicly. Member schools have several weeks to review the information, have questions answered and report any mistakes in data entry.

Example: http://tssaa.org/2016-17-high-school-enrollments/

October of Year 0
Schools Make Participation Declarations

In past cycles, member schools were given two weeks to decide whether they would participate in Division I (no financial aid) or Division II (need-based financial aid). Due to recent changes in association bylaws in 2017, member schools will no longer be afforded this choice. Public, magnet and charter schools must participate in Division I and independent schools must participate in Division II.

The state office, however, will continue to notify member schools of the opportunity to participate in a different classification than the one where the school's enrollment naturally places them. Association bylaws allow member schools to choose to participate "up" (in a classification with schools having larger enrollments than their own) but not "down" (in a classification with schools having smaller enrollments than their own).

To assist schools in making this decision, the state office publishes the enrollment ranges of all classifications at this time. This also affords member schools time to review the information, have questions answered and report potential mistakes.

Example: http://tssaa.org/school-classifications-by-sport-2017-2021/

Not every school has every sanctioned sport, therefore there is not a single common classification structure across all sports. Sports with similar school participation rates are, however, grouped together where appropriate. For example, in the 2017-2021 cycle, the Division I classifications groupings are as follows:

  • Football (six classes, split evenly by participating schools)
  • Basketball, Baseball, Softball (three classes, split evenly)
  • Volleyball (three classes, split evenly by participating schools)
  • Soccer (three classes, split evenly by participating schools)
  • Cross Country, Track & Field, Golf, Tennis (two classes, split evenly by participating schools)
  • Wrestling (two classes based on basketball classes with A & AA combined)
  • Bowling (one class)

A school can potentially be in a different class in each of these different classification groupings.

When the current cycle began, the Board expressed interest in adding a class in the sport of soccer. At the time, school participation rates in both volleyball and soccer were lower than those of basketball, baseball and softball, particularly among schools with the smallest enrollments. Volleyball and soccer were classified separately from basketball, increasing the number of schools in Class A when compared with the numbers they would have had if the same classification as basketball, baseball and softball had been used instead.

As participation rates improve, the need for accommodations such as these decline.

The state office updates the classification chart once schools have had at least one week to notify the state office of their intention to move to a different class.

October (Last Week) of Year 0
State Office Studies and Finalizes District/Region Alignments

Once the deadline passes for member schools to express the desire to play in a different classification, the state office begins the process of aligning schools into district and regions (and sections, depending on the sport).

New computer software assists the directors by displaying a "best fit" scenario based on travel time between schools, but there are still several other factors that are considered which fall outside the scope of the software.

Factors considered in the alignment process:

  • Geographic proximity -- reduce average travel time among schools in a group without creating unreasonable negative effects for neighboring groups
  • Group size -- prefer a consistent number of schools in each group
  • History/Tradition -- prefer a grouping similar to that of previous cycles for consistency
  • Time zones -- respect the time zone boundary as a hard delineator unless schools agree otherwise
  • Political boundaries -- avoid unnaturally splitting schools that share a common city, county or school district
  • Participation counts -- for multi-sport classifications, prefer groupings so that each district has at least four schools participating in each classified sport

The state office provides a draft version of the final alignments to Board of Control members several days before they are made public to allow for questions to be answered and any corrections to be made.

November (Second Week) of Year 0
Publish Alignments

At least one week prior to the November board meeting, the state office publishes on its website the final alignments for the upcoming classification cycle. Member schools have until the day of the meeting to indicate their desire to appeal the school's placement. The principal or other representative of the school is welcome to appear in person, however many choose to appeal by letter only.

November (Third Week) of Year 0
Appeals to the Board of Control and Finalization of Alignments

In 2016, the Board of Control moved to accept as final the alignments as published by the state office prior to the November board meeting and now focuses more intently on the consideration of school appeals.

The state office makes available all maps and tools to the Board to aid the body in considering the rationale for each appeal.

November (Third Week) of Year 0
Scheduling Begins

After the November board meeting, the state office acts on any granted appeals and updates the alignment lists and maps on the association website.

Member schools are now able to begin setting district and region schedules for the next two years and negotiate contracts with non-district/region opponents. Schools prefer to contract with one another in two-year cycles whereby each team gets a home game.

TSSAA is not involved in setting district/region schedules and the schools are free to schedule as they choose during the regular season. TSSAA does provide a system that enables districts/regions to have group conference calls to aid in setting schedules, but its usage is left up to the meeting organizers.

August of Year 1
Classification Cycle Begins

The work and planning which began more than 14 months ago finally comes to fruition.

August of Year 2
Process Begins for Mid-Cycle Classification Adjustments

The state office sends a letter to all member schools outlining the Board-approved process for making mid-cycle adjustments to classification and a timeline for its execution.

It is the current Board policy that only schools that have experienced a 20% or greater change in enrollment since the start of the classification cycle be considered for a change in classification. This prevents classification and district/region alignments from changing in dramatic ways because of small changes in enrollment while ensuring that the most significant enrollment fluctuations are addressed in an efficient manner.

September of Year 2
Request for Enrollments

As with the initial enrollment report request two years prior, the state office mails a similar letter to all public school systems requesting a report for each of the district's schools detailing the average daily membership (ADM) by grade as of the 20th day of the school year. A copy of this letter is also emailed to all member public schools.

The state office also requests similar information from all member independent schools so that enrollment figures from all schools are based on a 20th day membership number.

As before, school enrollments are normalized to four-grade 9-12 enrollment totals for classification purposes.

Districts and schools are given at least two full weeks to submit the requested information. The deadline normally falls on the Friday of the third full week of September.

September (Last Two Weeks) of Year 2
Complete and Publish Enrollment Report

As enrollment information is received from district offices and independent schools, TSSAA publishes on its website a list of schools for which enrollment information has been received. The list is updated daily and includes the date each report was received and shows whether or not the school meets the criteria for being considered for a change in classification (+/- 20% change).

The state office will individually contact any member schools for which enrollment information has not been received. After all enrollment figures have been received, the enrollments of all schools are then published publicly. Member schools are then able to review the information, have questions answered and report any mistakes in data entry.

Example: http://tssaa.org/2018-mid-cycle-enrollments/

October of Year 2
Notify Affected Schools of Options

State office staff reviews each member school that experienced a change in enrollment of 20% or more and identifies the sports in which the change of enrollment would place the school in a different classification. If a change in classification is warranted, the executive director selects the most appropriate district/region assignment for the school in the new class.

Schools that have a decreased enrollment are given the option of moving to a lower classification in the affected sports to compete against schools that are more comparable to their new enrollment. The school may decline and remain in the current class for the remainder of the cycle.

Schools that have an increased enrollment must move to the higher classification in the affected sports.

The state office notifies each affected member school of the change in classification and region/district. Schools with decreased enrollment are given at least one week to notify the state office if they wish to remain in their current classification. They may elect to move down in one or more sport groupings and stay where they are in others.

November of Year 2
Finalize Classification

The changes in classification are presented for approval at the November board meeting. Once approved, member schools again begin the process of setting district and region schedules for the next two years and negotiate contracts with non-district/region opponents.

At this time, the state office publishes updated lists and maps of the approved changes for the next school year to the website.

August of Year 3 (Year -1 of the next cycle)
Classification Cycle Begins

The third year of the four-year classification cycle begins.