By BRAD GASKINS
DRESDEN — Students and staff at Dresden Elementary School gathered in the gym Tuesday afternoon for a special assembly.
School principal Mike Laughrey was honored in a ceremony recognizing him for his role in making Dresden Elementary one of the most effective schools in the state, as measured by Tennessee’s Value-Added Assessment System.
Dresden Elementary’s TVAAS score ranked first among all elementary schools in West Tennessee and 10th among the state’s 761 elementary schools.
“That means that this school improves from the time we come to school at the beginning of the year until the time we finish,” Weakley County Director of Schools Randy Frazier told the students.
“I’d like to thank Mr. Laughrey for his leadership and vision,” Frazier continued. “He’s always had an extreme amount of focus on value-added.”
The award marks the second time in as many years Dresden Elementary has been honored as a highly effective school.
Last year’s ceremony was held in Nashville. Having this year’s ceremony at the school allowed the students and teachers to be a part of it.
With students and teachers looking on, Laughrey was presented with a certificate, a banner to hang in the gym and a cash award of $3,000.
“I’d like to have this whole room full of banners saying that we are a highly effective school,” Laughrey told the stduents.
“We work hard. We have a great staff, and we do everything we possibly can to be the best we can.”
Virginia Edwards of the Education Consumers Foundation presented the awards and spoke to the students.
“I’m proud that you guys take your education seriously,” she said, “and that you know that you need to work hard in school, work hard in your classes and work hard to do well on tests and assignments.”
Dr. J.E. Stone, ECF president, also lauded the school’s progress.
“Schools like Dresden Elementary show what a dedicated principal and teaching force can achieve in Tennessee schools,” Stone said in a written statement. “If every school performed at the level of our 18 winners, Tennessee would lead the nation in educational improvement.
“School leaders like Mike Laughrey are the kinds of principals we want to see in every Tennessee school — dedicated leaders willing to do whatever it takes to create the conditions for student success.”
Weakley County Mayor Houston Patrick was among the many local officials in attendance.
“We are all so proud of the fact that this school has achieved the level that is has, and your hard work is evident,” he said.
How the winners were selected:
Each year, the Education Consumers Foundation ranks Tennessee elementary and middle schools according to their value-added performance. Rankings are made using schools’ letter grades for reading/language arts, math, science, and social studies; reading/language arts and math scores are double-weighted to reflect the importance of these areas. A “grade point average” is calculated, with a complementary measure – the raw TVAAS value of schools’ reading/language arts and math scores – used as a secondary factor.
In all, 18 winners were selected from among Tennessee’s nearly 1,300 public elementary and middle schools. First, second and third place awards are given in two categories, Elementary and Middle schools, in each of Tennessee’s three regions: East, Middle, and West.
Because the awards recognize high quality leadership, only schools where the principal has served for at least five years were considered.
Published in The WCP 4.18.13