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City schools score well on state report card

December 2nd, 2011 10:19 pm by Gary B. Gray

City schools score well on state report card

The Tennessee Department of Education released complete results from the 2011 State Report Card on Friday, and once again Johnson City Schools showed its progressive side by shining in virtually every category despite higher state standards.
“Our academic progress on the TCAP achievement test for grades 3-8 exceeded the state performance in every area,” said Robbie Anderson, Johnson City Schools’ School Improvement and Accountability director. “Math, reading/language arts, science, and social studies scores received ‘A’s’ for exemplary performance. Student growth (value added scores) for grades 4-8 was positive in all subjects. Even with the increased rigor in the state curriculum and assessments, the gain in math was exemplary and received an ‘A.’”
Social studies and science also exceeded the state’s growth standard and earned a status of “B.” Although reading/language arts showed exemplary growth on 2011 state test scores, a status of “C,” or expected growth, was reported due to the state’s averaging of data from the past three years, Anderson said.
The school system’s teachers really paced the field with 100 percent falling into the category of “core courses taught by highly qualified instructors,” with no teacher waivers/permits issued.
“Johnson City Schools continues to work toward narrowing the achievement gap among several different student populations,” Anderson said. “TCAP writing scores were higher than the state scores in grades five, eight and eleven. All three grade levels were awarded a status of ‘A’ or exceptional. And based on rigorous standards focused on student performance, the report card indicates 100 percent accreditation of schools, K-12.”
All elementary and middle schools met Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) as required by the No Child Left Behind Act and are in “good standing.” Science Hill’s ACT composite score of 22.3 was significantly higher than the state average of 19.8.
Johnson City Schools also surpassed state goals at all grade levels on all non-academic indicators of success including attendance, promotion and graduation rate. In addition, the system’s graduation rate was 93.5 percent — well above the state goal of 90 percent.
Anderson said a summary of Johnson City Schools’ successes in the 2011 State Report Card will be sent home with students Monday for parents to review.
“We are continuing to make progress even with the increased rigor and standards,” she said. “We want to inform our stakeholders about the result, but there is a lot of ‘educationeze.’ That why they’ll get the results in summary form.”
Results released Friday include district- and school-level data on a variety of indicators, from a culmination of student achievement and growth on standardized tests, to attendance and behavior. This is the department’s fourth major data release this year, following the summer release of statewide Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program and Adequate Yearly Progress results, as well as the recent list of Reward, Priority and Focus schools slated for state support under the state’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act Flexibility request.
Meanwhile, Carter County and the Elizabethton school system administrators were pleased that they remain in good standing on the No Child Left Behind evaluation.
“We are still making improvements, not large improvements, but we are showing improvements,” said Dr. Jerri Beth, Carter County School System federal projects and testing.
Beth said Cloudland High School did very well but the overall system still needs to work on improving math scores.
Elizabethton City Schools Superintendent Ed Alexander questioned the way high performing schools are evaluated on the improvement shown. Elizabethton High School’s ACT scores were the ninth highest in the state, yet the school was graded as below standard for 9th grade, value-added math.
“Our attendance rate is at 94.3 percent, and our graduation rate is at 96.4 percent,” Alexander said.
The high school is going to a full block schedule next year and will be hiring two additional math teachers to work on making more improvements.
One bit of good news for both systems in Carter County is that two schools that were already on target lists met their requirements. Elizabethton High School comes off the target list after two years and is now in good standing, while Hampton Elementary School showed significant improvement after being targeted for the first year last year. Hampton is now categorized as improving in the School Improvement 1 category.
The bad news is that both systems had schools added to the target list this year. Schools that have missed one or more benchmarks for one year are considered target schools.
The Carter County elementary schools added to the target list include Central, Hunter, Little Milligan, Range and Unaka. High schools in the county on the target list are Hampton, Happy Valley and Unaka.
In the Elizabethton system, the targeted schools are East Side and Harold McCormick elementary schools and T.A. Dugger Jr. High School.
Unicoi County Director of Schools Denise Brown said Unicoi County school officials were “very pleased” with the system’s results on the Department of Education’s 2011 Report Card.
“We’ve had growth in every single area in every single school,” she said.
Brown said the system as a whole made gains in all areas under Adequate Yearly Progress. The only area that the system did not meet proficient/advanced classification was with students with disabilities at the middle school level. However, Brown said “tremendous” gains were still made in this area.
However, if the state’s request for a waiver from the No Child Left Behind regulations is passed, the system would meet requirements in all areas under state accountability regulations, Brown said.
Brown said the school system showed growth and gains in value-added scores in all subgroups reported on the Report Card.
Brown said if the state’s NCLB waiver request is passed, the state’s school will be grouped into categories called Reward schools, Focus schools and Priority schools. Reward schools would identify schools in the state in the top 10 percent in academic gains. Under this system, Brown said Rock Creek Elementary School would be in the top 5 percent of state schools for making gains each year. Unicoi County Middle School and Unicoi County High School would fall in the top 10 percent for gains, she said.
“That’s huge for our students, educators and administrators who are working to ensure our kids are making gains,” she said.
A complete copy of the state report card is available by clicking on the “jcs reports” tab at

Elizabethton Bureau Chief John Thompson and Erwin Bureau Chief Brad Hicks contributed to this report.

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