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Education

City’s schools No. 1 in math

July 8th, 2011 11:04 pm by Gary B. Gray

Johnson City’s school system made its academic mark Friday when the 2010-11 Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program Achievement Test results were announced, revealing the school system’s math scores ranked No. 1 statewide.
“That’s quite an achievement considering there are 138 school systems,” said Robbie Anderson, the school system’s improvement and accountability director. “We’re very pleased with our results, and we know it’s because of our unbelievable teachers, staff and community support.”
Johnson City’s schools garnered a math score of 66.7 percent, which not only bested all other school systems but also scorched the state benchmark of 40 percent.
The system also ranked No. 4 in reading/language arts at 65.2 percent. That mark also far exceeds the state benchmark of 49 percent.
“Johnson City schools did very well, but our work is not done,” Anderson said. “This is only the second year we were tested after the new state standards went into place. There’s a number of strategies we put in place that helped students achieve these scores. But the end goal is to score 100 percent.”
TCAP scores measure the progress of students in grades 3-8. The state’s scoring system is based on a 1 through 4 system where 3 is proficient and 4 is advanced. But the measuring stick — so to speak — begins at the proficient level, and students’ scores must fall into that level or the advanced level for them to be considered making Adequate Yearly Progress. Only these scores are reported.
A total of 3,423 Johnson City students made the mark, and improvements were seen across the board for all grades, with fifth-graders improving scores by 8.2 percent over the prior year followed closely by fourth-graders with a 7.2 percent increase.
The state has not released school-specific scores.
Tennessee students scored higher in all subject areas and grade levels in grades three through eight on this year compared to 2009-10 results. Student math scores grew by 7 percent and reading scores grew by 3.7 percent.
“Tennessee educators deserve immense credit for their hard work this year in helping our students achieve marked improvements and success,” Gov. Bill Haslam said Friday in a news release. “I’m very encouraged by these latest results, and we’re all committed to continuing to work together to improve the classroom experience for every student across the state.”
Washington County’s students tested above the state average in each of the four academic categories.
Director of Schools Ron Dykes said he was extremely pleased with the scores, especially considering the rigor of the new curriculum.
“The entire credit must go to the excellent instruction of the classroom teachers and the effort that the children put forth,” Dykes said.
The system’s most improved subject was math, in which 51.8 percent of the students scored at proficient or advanced, 10 percent more than last year. The state’s average was 51.7 percent.
In reading and language arts, 59.4 percent of Washington County students tested at proficient or advanced, about 11 percent above the state average.
The students’ science scores show 63 percent of students at proficient or advanced levels, a 3.8 percent growth from last year.
In social studies, 87 percent of students tested at proficient or advanced, a 4.7 percent increase over last year. Those scores are slightly above the state average of 86.9 percent.
The directors of the two school systems in Carter County had not yet had time by the close of business on Friday to review the data released by the Department of Education.
Both Carter County Director of Schools Shirley Ellis and Elizabethton City Schools Superintendent Ed Alexander were in the final stages of budget decisions and other administrative matters during the day.
“I have not had a chance to sit down and look at the data,” Alexander said. “That is not to say it is not high priority.”
Between all of the other matters she dealt with Friday, Ellis had time to review some of the data on one of the four subject areas, reading.
One area Ellis said was good news was that Carter County schools did show growth in all four subjects tested. The growth was 7.142 percent for math, 7.088 percent for reading, 2.08 percent for science and .025 percent for social science.
Elizabethton’s also showed no negative growth on a system level. Growth results were: 6.371 percent in math, 0.02 percent in reading, 0.646 in science and 3.093 percent in social studies.
In an email to Unicoi County Director of Schools Denise Brown, state Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman congratulated he on the school district’s “exceptional progress” and for being among the 18 districts in the state that had the highest combined reading and math gains.
“That right there just made us all ecstatic here,” Brown said.
Unicoi County saw the 16th-highest gain in math results out of the state’s 136 districts, with a gain of more than 14 percent in 2010-11. According the TCAP results, a little more than 44 percent of students scored proficient or advanced in math scores.
The county also realized the 25th-highest gain in reading scores, with a gain a 6.672 percent. More than 52 percent of the school system’s students in grades 3-8 scored proficient or advanced in reading.
Brown said the gains “speak volumes” about the hard work put in by teachers, students and administrators, as math and reading scores were not only a focus of state officials but also of Unicoi County educators. She also said it was rewarding to see steps and strategies implemented to produce gains in these areas pay off.
Unicoi County’s schools also saw about a 9 percent gain in science scores, with more than 63 percent of students scoring proficient or advanced. In the area of social studies, the county saw scoring gains of a little more than 7.6 percent with a little more than 90 percent of students scoring proficient or advanced.

Press Staff Writer Heather Richardson, Elizabethton Bureau Chief John Thompson and Erwin Bureau Chief Brad Hicks contributed to this report.

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