Elizabethton schools honored by state for improved performance

John Thompson • Aug 7, 2013 at 11:51 AM

ELIZABETHTON — The Elizabethton City School System was one of only five systems in the state to be recognized by the Tennessee Department of Education for “significantly improved student performance and narrowed achievement gaps under Tennessee’s accountability system.”

“We are thrilled to receive this recognition,” Superintendent Ed Alexander said after the state made the announcement on Tuesday afternoon. “We wished we had been able to share that good news when we had all the teachers together,” Alexander said of the initial teachers meeting to kick off the new school year. He said the news is a nice way to get started.

“This shows our teachers and our supervisors are doing their jobs,” Alexander said. “Our students are getting it done.”

Elizabethton was joined by four other school districts as having achieved exemplary status. The others were: Bells City Schools, Bradford Special School District, Perry County and Stewart County.

The Department of Education said the five districts “raised proficiency levels on the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program tests; made substantial progress in closing gaps between groups of students; and ensured improvement for racial minorities, as well as students with disabilities, limited English proficiency and those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.”

The results for Elizabethton were especially remarkable because five years ago Elizabethton High School was placed on the targeted list under the No Child Left Behind Program. Alexander said then-Principal Eddie Pless led the effort to get the school off that list. He was provided with financial assistance in improving the school’s technology program from a grant from the Niswonger Foundation.

Alexander said a lot of hard work has gone into getting the school system where it is now, but he said “this is a classroom achievement and our children have historically done well in the classroom.

He said the students have also made outstanding achievements in many extracurricular activities this past year, including state championships in band and choir and numerous high finishes in state athletic competitions, including individual achievements.

“They are all to be commended,” Alexander said.

Tennessee Educational Commissioner Kevin Huffman also recognized how difficult was the achievement by the five school systems: “Growing results while closing achievement gaps is incredibly hard work,” Huffman said. “The goal of Tennessee’s accountability model is that all students grow. Accountability data help us sharpen our focus on the students who need added support.”

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