Bradley County Schools students’ TCAP (Tennessee Comprehensive Assessments Program) test scores for 2012 show an increase in the percentage of proficient and advanced students in a number of subject areas.
According to a press release from the school system, the local schools performed better than the state average in almost every category.
“Bradley County had excellent growth in its core subjects this year, with particularly high growth in math and science,” Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman said. “In fact, proficiency levels in Algebra I grew by nearly 14 percent, and proficiency in Biology climbed by 14.5 percent — phenomenal growth for a single year which will help many more high school students prepare for post-secondary education.”
System-specific data was released last week following a lengthy embargo on the information.
In Bradley County, 52.5 percent tested as proficient or advanced in reading from grades three through eight. The state average was 49.9 percent. In science for the same grades, 62.3 percent of students were proficient or advanced. This is compared to the state average of 60.5 percent.
“Amidst a year of rebuilding and relocating from the destruction left behind from the storms of 2011, teachers and staff in Bradley County Schools have continued to focus on our commitment to excellence,” Bradley County Director of Schools Johnny McDaniel said in a press release. “Teachers have been supported by a great team of administrators throughout this year of change to a new teacher evaluation system. I am very proud of their dedication and hard work.”
Third- to eighth-grade math and Algebra II were the only courses in which scores were below the state average.
TCAP scores are evaluated on a four-level system: “below basic,” “basic,” “proficient” and “advanced.”
The TCAP data focuses on combining the percentage of proficient students and advanced students.
According to the Tennessee Department of Education, 46.9 percent of students in Bradley County tested in the proficient or advanced category in math among third- through eighth-graders. This is compared to the state average of 47.3 percent. In social studies, 84.4 percent of students were proficient or advanced compared to the state average of 82.9 percent.
“While Bradley County did not exceed the state average in third to eighth grade math, there were significant gains with a 6 percent increase over last year,” according to a press release.
Thirty percent of Bradley County High School students tested in Algebra II scored in the proficient or advanced range. This is compared to the state average of 33.3 percent.
With last year’s statewide waiver of “No Child Left Behind” being approved, this is the first year that school system results were measured using the new system. The new system looks at how a school system has grown based on last year’s performance, requiring a certain percentage of growth rather than meeting “an across-the-board benchmark.”
According to a press release from Bradley County Schools, schools are required to achieve Annual Measurable Objectives and Gap Closures in each subcategory. Bradley County Schools achieved the required gap closure in every subcategory except for the students with disabilities category.
McDaniel said the state does not recognize scores above the proficient range on modified tests on more than 2 percent of the students from third through eighth grades. These students’ scores are automatically considered to be basic, while because of the modified format a student may have actually scored in the proficient or advanced range on the test.
Bradley County Schools however, does recognize these grades.
“Those are the scores the parents will receive in the mail,” director of special service Dr. Tena Stone said in a press release. “Our system, however, will not receive credit for those scores and this has led in part to our district standing ‘in need of subgroup improvement.’”
The school system did reach the gap closure for students with disabilities in Algebra I.
McDaniel said the school system provided clarification of data in hopes the state would re-evaluate listing these students as basic.
“The appeal to accept these scores was denied, placing Bradley County Schools ‘in need of subgroup improvement’ along with 53 other districts in the state,” according to a release.
While the scores are limited for growth-measuring purposes, there is not a limit to how many special education students can take a modified test. This is at the discretion of the student’s individualized education plan team, according to school system information.