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High marks: UC system recognized as ‘Exemplary’

High marks: UC system recognized as ‘Exemplary’
The Union City School System is among school districts recognized Monday by the Tennessee Department of Education for having significantly improved student performance and narrowed achievement gaps under the state’s new accountability system.
The 21 school districts that earned “Exemplary” designations for the 2011-12 school year were announced by Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman at an event in Sevier County.
These 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.
“I was very pleased with being named an Exemplary school district — pleased and proud of our administrators and teachers for the job they’ve done this past year in focusing on student results,” Union City Director of Schools Gary Houston said. “We’ve especially looked at closing the gap between our subgroups and regarding our subgroups. They’ve focused on specific learning targets and the delivery of instruction.
“Our system has outstanding technology tools, but we’re being more focused on teacher-student face time and teaching the standards. We’ve had a sense of purpose in all of this and all of this together have worked to accomplish this goal in striving for students to be more successful.”
Houston said students have been challenged with a rigorous curriculum on all levels and, as a result, he believes it has proven successful.
In addition to Union City Schools, the other 20 honorees were Blount County Schools, Claiborne County Schools, Fayette County Schools, Fayetteville City Schools, Henry County Schools, Hollow Rock-Bruceton School District, Franklin Special School District, Loudon County Schools, Marshall County Schools, McKenzie Special School District, Milan Special School District, Newport City Schools, Rogersville City Schools, Rutherford County Schools, Sequatchie County Schools, Sevier County Schools, Smith County Schools, South Carroll County Special School District, Sweetwater City Schools and Trousdale County Schools.
A district-by-district look at Tennessee’s growth on this year’s TCAP can be found at www.tn.gov/education/tcap.shtml.
“Growing results while closing achievement gaps is incredibly hard work,” Huffman said. “We’re excited with the overall results across the state, and we particularly want to highlight those districts that have excelled in both areas.”
Tennessee’s new accountability system replaces No Child Left Behind’s Annual Yearly Progress measures. Rather than expecting all districts to meet the same benchmarks year after year, the new system acknowledges that districts are starting from different places and rewards those that show the most growth.
The system, adopted after Tennessee secured a waiver from part of NCLB earlier this year, looks to districts to increase achievement levels for all students and reduce achievement gaps that exist between certain groups.
In 2011-12, nearly every district in the state grew student achievement overall, but many did not successfully narrow achievement gaps or saw declines among particular student subgroups.
Districts that did not reach a majority of their achievement goals and did not significantly narrow a majority of achievement gaps are labeled as “In Need of Improvement.” These districts will meet in-person with department officials to set an aggressive, effective plan to meet the goals they missed last year.
Some districts met most of their goals in achievement, gap closure or even both, but saw declines among particular groups of students. These districts are “In Need of Subgroup Improvement.” Because the state strives to raise standards for all students, the districts labeled as In Need of Subgroup Improvement will focus efforts on addressing the declines among particular groups, such as students with disabilities.
Directors and data specialists at the Tennessee’s eight Centers Of Regional Excellence, or COREs, will support all districts in their plans to continue and expand improvement in the coming year, including fostering relationships between districts so they may learn from each other’s strengths.
A complete list of districts designated as Exemplary, In Need of Improvement and In Need of Subgroup Improvement can be found on the department website at www.tn.gov/education/accountability/2012results.shtml.
Published in The Messenger 7.31.12

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