State releases report cards

State releases report cards
Christmas is coming early this year for local schools as the state report cards were made public Friday, but some schools will be reaping the rewards of the gift while others may feel a bit like they’ve received a lump of coal.
The report cards for the first year of the new standards were released on Jan. 7, 2011, and reflected a raising of the bar and more rigorous demands to eventually catapult Tennessee upwards from being a low ranking state in education. Standards in the form of benchmarks were set based on new grading criteria issued by the Tennessee Department of Education in its aggressive program, Race to the Top.
New terminology was slipped into place and those schools not meeting benchmarks or not reaching Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), were labeled “targeted,” while those who reached the standards were rewarded as being in “good standing.”
In the report card from January, four Weakley County schools made the targeted list. Three of the four schools were high schools who did not meet the graduation rate benchmark and one school – Martin Middle – had two sub groups of students who failed to meet benchmarks in language arts and math.
In the December Weakley County School Board meeting Thursday night, director of schools Randy Frazier reported “improvement across the board” in this second year of more rigorous testing.
“Some schools did very well and others did okay,” he added.
The new grading system put into place, however, is designed to raise the bar every year so that eventually and hopefully, a 100 percent proficiency rate can be achieved by the 2013-2014 school year.
Last year’s elementary and middle school target benchmarks called for 32 percent proficiency in reading and language arts, 20 percent in math and 93 percent in attendance. This year’s report card calls for 49 percent in reading and language arts, 40 percent in math and a maintained 93 percent attendance rate.
With that in mind, three schools that were in good standing last year have made the targeted list this year – Dresden Elementary, Dresden Middle and Gleason School.
Dresden Elementary failed to meet benchmarks in reading, language arts and writing. The overall state trend reflected no change from last year to this year, but Dresden Elementary students dropped one point and earned a C in reading and language in academic achievement (value added) when, last year, they made a B.
Dresden Middle Schools’ report card revealed benchmarks not being met in the sub group of students with disabilities in both math and reading, language arts and writing.
Gleason School, likewise, revealed benchmarks not being met with students with disabilities in the same subjects.
Martin Middle, however, rose to the challenge that last year’s report card presented and erased itself from the targeted list.
The school met benchmarks in math and reading, language arts and science and in academic growth, raised two Fs to two Ds in math and reading and language arts.
Last year’s report card reflected a “dropped bottom” in value added, according to Martin Middle School principal Nate Holmes. He admitted that work needed to be accomplished in the groups of students with disabilities and African-American students to bring up the AYP. The report card for this year reflects improvement in those areas.
Other elementary and middle schools making the good standing list include Martin Primary, Martin Elementary, Greenfield and Sharon.
Three out of four high schools made the targeted list last year due to not meeting the benchmark graduation rate of 90 percent. This year, three out of the four schools did not meet the rate, but Gleason joined the list while Greenfield improved enough to reach good standing.
Greenfield saw its percentage rate jump to 95 percent. Gleason, a school in good standing last year, fell into the targeted category this year.
Westview and Dresden High, schools that received the label “School Improvement 1” due to their low graduation rates, improved slightly, but still failed to meet the benchmark.
“Anyone not getting a high school diploma, whether they choose to go on a special education route or a GED route, it counts against the graduation rate,” Westview principal David Byars said.
The next step is evaluation followed by implementation and persistence. In the constant battle of letters and numbers and ever-changing formulas, the one factor of the equation that has never changed is encouragement and support in reaching the ultimate goal of success.
To see complete report card information, go to http://www.tn.gov/education/reportcard/, click on the blue TDOE report card link and search for specific schools through the scrolling menus.

WCP 12.06.11

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