County schools’ proficiency grows
by JOYANNA LOVE, Banner Staff Writer
Aug 01, 2013 | 1029 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Johnny McDaniel
Johnny McDaniel
Bradley County Schools has shown growth in student proficiency in key areas, according to data released by the Tennessee Department of Education.

“The system reached or exceeded Achievement Goals in grades 3-9 math, third-grade reading, third-grade math, seventh-grade reading, English III, Algebra I, Algebra II, seventh-grade math and graduation rate,” according to a Bradley County School press release.

Growth in student achievement in math is a highlight for the school system this year.

“We have a large increase in overall math (scores) and we had made that a focus,” data analyst and testing coordinator Angie Gill said. “We saw a tremendous gain in math all across, from elementary all the way to high school.”

Bradley County Schools Director Johnny McDaniel attributed some of this success to the adoption of the “math facts in a flash” program. The program encourages memorization of math facts with the promise of a T-shirt when a certain number of tables are memorized.

Gill said a shift in instruction as preparation for moving to the constructed response questions, which will be a part of the assessment with the switch to Common Core, also contributed.

Bradley County’s math score for grades 3-8 rose 3.6 percentage points to 50.4 percent of students being proficient or advanced. This is compared to a state score of 50.7.

“Also third-grade math scores have risen to 63.9 percent of students being proficient or advanced in Bradley County compared to the state average if 59 percent,” according to Bradley County Schools press release.

The state ranks students on a four level scale based on Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Programs and End of Course test scores: below basic, basic, proficient and advanced. The proficient and advanced categories are combined to show a school system’s overall score.

Another area of improvement for the school system was in the subgroup of economically disadvantaged students for algebra. Gill said the economically disadvantaged subgroup had been a focus after last year’s scores, and this was a subgroup that needed improvement.

“That’s a hard area to track because you can’t really identify those kids, so it was good to see that we just basically targeted strategies in general that are at-risk and just applied it across the board and we were able to close the gaps,” Gill said.

According to state scores, 59.4 of students in the Algebra I subgroup were proficient or advanced.

This is an increase of 8.8 percentage points, according to a Bradley County Schools press release.

“One of our brightest spots in achievement was in Algebra II, where economically disadvantaged students increased 17.7 percentage points, McDaniel said.

Overall, Bradley County proficiency in Algebra I increased 7.3 percentage points to 68.5 percent. The state average was 60.3 percent. Algebra II scores increased 17.5 percentage points to 47.5 percent of students being proficient or advanced. This is above the state average of 42 percent proficient or advanced

The elementary economically disadvantaged subgroup is anticipated to be an area where further improvement is needed.

Gill said English Language learners would also be a subgroup needing focus.

As math scores improved, reading scores showed 53.9 percent of students in grades 3-8 were proficient or advanced. This is a 1.4 percentage points increase over last year.

Reading scores for just third-grade reading “increased 4.5 percentage points to 56.2 percent proficient or advanced, which is above the state average of 48.8 percent.”

School systems have also received value added scores for the school system as a whole.

McDaniel said principals have already been reviewing the data. Teacher groups use the data for strategy and planning for the year.

The SAT 10 scores, taken by levels kindergarten through second grade, were included in determining these scores.

“I think it really gave us a boost, but it also put a little teeth behind the emphasis that if you don’t get that foundation down early, then you are playing catch-up by the time you get to third grade,” Gill said.

McDaniel said including the SAT 10 scores provides extra accountability to the school systems.

The school system was scored as a level 5 in each of the categories including: literacy, numeracy and overall. This is the highest level that can be given.

The graduation rate for the Class of 2012 Bradley County was reported as 93.9 percent.

In the 2013-14 school year, McDaniel said the school system is working hard to provide a number of options for students to finish school and encourage them to graduate. Emphasis has also been placed on math at the high school level, as students are now required to take four years of math. McDaniel said this could be intimidating to students who feels they are not good at math, so the school system is trying to change that mindset.

Data on reward schools and focus schools will not be released by the state until later. These distinctions compare schools to state expectations and other schools.