Michigan Avenue a ‘Reward School’: State list IDs achievement
by CHRISTY ARMSTRONG Banner Staff Writer
Aug 25, 2014 | 1907 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Johnny McDaniel
Johnny McDaniel
One local school has been designated by the Tennessee Department of Education as being among the top 10 percent best-achieving schools in the state.

Michigan Avenue Elementary School has made the department’s preliminary list of Reward Schools designed to recognize those that have done well in year-to-year progress and/or academic performance.

Schools are on the list because they have either been in the top 5 percent of schools for student achievement or in the top 5 percent for academic growth, as measured by their Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System scores year by year.

The Bradley County school was recognized for its performance during the 2013-14 school year.

“I’m very proud of the work they’ve done at Michigan Avenue,” Director of Schools Johnny McDaniel said.

He also pointed out that this was not the first time the school had made the state list. It last received the Reward designation in 2012, after the end of the 2011-12 school year.

McDaniel attributed the school’s success to factors such as parental involvement, managing time well so there is extra instructional time and holding regular teacher meetings to discuss data and other relevant issues.

“They’re very committed to a strong core academic structure,” McDaniel said.

Angie Gill, Bradley County’s data analysis and testing coordinator, said one element she has noticed about the school is that the teachers are “very persistent” about making sure students get the material. During regular meetings, the teachers work to identify which concepts might need more attention in the classroom, and which students might need extra help.

She explained the school’s emphasis on teachers keeping an eye on students’ grades and tweaking their lesson plans if necessary has led to more students doing well in school.

Gill said she expects the county school system will be looking for ways to share with its other schools what has made Michigan Avenue and other Reward schools so successful.

“It sets them up almost as a model school for the other schools to emulate,” Gill said.

The Cleveland City Schools system did not have any Reward schools this year.

The county school system had two schools on the state’s list of Focus schools, which represents the 10 percent of schools that had the largest achievement gaps between the majority and minority populations of students, and the city school system had one.

Gill said having schools placed on the Focus list requires the local school systems to “focus” on how to lessen those achievement gaps, and what is working at schools like Michigan Avenue could serve as inspiration for other schools looking for new ideas of ways to make sure more students succeed.

She also stressed that a school simply not being a Reward school or ending up on the Focus list does not mean educators at that school have not been working on helping students succeed.

“They all ... work hard. They really want what’s best for kids,” Gill said. “They all want the same result.” 

While both school systems did have schools on the state education department’s list of Focus Schools for having achievement gaps, neither had schools that were named to the Priority Schools list, which lists the top 5 percent lowest-performing schools for academic achievement in Tennessee. The nearest Priority schools are located in Hamilton County.

All the lists are preliminary, pending approval by the Tennessee Board of Education during a meeting scheduled for Tuesday.