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    Tennessee recognizes 33 'Reward Schools' in Memphis and Shelby County

    Richard Locker, Jane Roberts

    Photo by Brandon Dill

    Aug 19, 2013 — Third grade teacher Deronda Ladd asks students questions about the state tree and flower of Tennessee during class at Tara Oaks Elementary School. Tara Oaks students excelled in both performance and growth in their schoolwide TCAP results. (Brandon Dill/Special to The Commercial Appeal)

    Memphis and Shelby County placed 33 schools on the state’s second annual list of “Reward Schools” — public schools that are in the top 5 percent statewide in academic performance or progress, or both — for the 2012-13 school year. That’s more than any other county in the state.

    “The principals and teachers in these schools, and especially the students and families, deserve a tremendous amount of credit for the achievement and growth,” interim Supt. Dorsey Hopson said Monday.

    Six city schools — American Way Middle, Caldwell-Guthrie Elementary, Chickasaw Middle, Ford Road Elementary, Hickory Ridge Middle and Lucy E. Campbell — went in one year from being in the bottom 5 percent and in line for state takeover to scoring in the top 5 percent in terms of gains students made on state tests.

    One county school — Tara Oaks Elementary — was one of 16 schools in the state to make both lists for performance and progress.

    “We know our students by name and need,” said principal Tricia Marshall. “We continuously look at data at various points in the time line. We knew where our students were doing great. But we also knew where we needed to go in and offer direct intervention.”

    The Reward Schools were announced Monday as the state released its annual “report card” for every public school (find your school at tn.gov/education/tcap/index.shtml#School_Data).

    Reward status for performance is based on the percentage of proficient/advanced students, and Progress is based value-added growth scores for one year. The ranking of schools with grades 3-8 is based on Math, Reading/Language Arts and Science scores. In grades 9-12, the measures include Algebra I & II, English I, II & III, Biology and graduation rate.

    “You can’t ask much more from a school than to improve faster than 95 percent of the schools in the state,” said state education commissioner Kevin Huffman. “Any time you have a school that has struggled with low TCAP performance and suddenly starts to grow and improve really fast, those are the important schools to look at. Identify the things they did, and figure out how do those things in other schools.”

    Statewide, only 10 percent of schools — 169 schools — earned the Reward Schools distinction. Seventy were cited for overall academic achievement, 83 for growth in the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System.

    The former Memphis City Schools has 22 Reward Schools, including Booker T. Washington, where students made five- and sixfold gains in tested subjects. Legacy Shelby County Schools has 11 reward schools.

    In general, schools need to show 3 to 5 percent gains a year in the number of students proficient in core subjects. They also must show that various groups — students who are learning to speak English and low-income students, for example — are making similar progress.

    A district making progress on fewer than half its goals is cited as needing help. The former MCS is in this category.

    “It had growth, but not enough, given the gap it needs to close with rest of state,” Huffman said.

    Since MCS no longer exists, its data will be merged with Shelby County’s to develop new targets for next year.

    In general, students in both systems — and statewide — did better in math than in reading. In SCS, 12 elementary and middle schools made 3 percent gains or more in reading compared to 34 schools making similar gains in math.

    In former MCS, 32 elementary and middle schools made 3 percent gains or more in reading compared to 99 schools making similar progress in math.

    In reading, 15 out of 43 former SCS schools posted losses, compared to 73 out of 152 schools in the former MCS.

    The state is focused on growth and performance as a way to challenge students in high and low socioeconomic pockets to keep growing.

    Data reporter Grant Smith contributed to this report.

    2013 Reward Schools

    Memphis City Schools:

    Overall performance - Campus School and John P. Freeman Optional School

    Academic progress - American Way Middle, Booker T. Washington High, Caldwell-Guthrie Elementary, Chickasaw Middle, Craigmont Middle, Crump Elementary, Delano Elementary, Ford Road Elementary, Freedom Preparatory Academy, Germanshire Elementary, Hickory Ridge Middle, Kingsbury Elementary, Levi Elementary, Lucie E. Campbell Elementary, Memphis Academy of Health Sciences, Newberry Elementary, Power Center Academy High, Power Center Academy Middle, Sharpe Elementary and Vollentine Elementary.

    Shelby County Schools:

    Overall performance - Arlington Elementary, Barrets Elementary, Crosswind Elementary, Dogwood Elementary, E.E. Jeter Elementary, Farmington -Elementary, Lakeland Elementary and Tara Oaks Elementary (for both achievement and progress)

    Academic progress - Elmore Park Middle, Lowrance Elementary and Southwind High.

    Problems with class schedules? We want to know

    Some students in Memphis don’t receive class schedules for days after the start of the school year. We’re trying to find root causes and identify solutions.

    If you’re aware of serious scheduling problems at schools, please write to us through our online questionnaire.

    Or contact reporter Daniel Connolly directly at 901-529-5296 or via e-mail. We will ask your permission before publishing your name. We’re interested in all local school systems and all grade levels.
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