The Tennessee Department of Education on Wednesday released district-level results from the 2014 Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program, which show strong gains in high school, and relatively constant scores in elementary and middle school.
As seen in state results, districts did well in high school in most subject areas. Statewide, growth in 3-8 reading dropped slightly and is an area of continued need for improvement. Results in 3-8 math, science, and social studies were largely flat or showed slight growth.
“Students are learning to do more advanced writing, citing evidence from the text, and showing their work in math, and we know that this work is important to get our students ready for post-secondary opportunities and the workforce. While the TCAP remains a multiple choice test that doesn’t reach all of these skills, we are pleased that there continues to be progress in most subject areas,” said Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman. “As I have conversations with superintendents across the state, I hear the same thing over and over again: teachers are working hard, instruction keeps getting better, and students are learning at a higher level.”
Since the current administration took office in 2011, Tennessee students have made significant and sustained growth in academic achievement. In 2011, only 18 percent of districts had the majority of their students at or above grade level in 3-8 math, and this year that number is 57 percent. Similarly, in 2011, 49 percent of districts had the majority of high school students at or above grade level in Algebra I, as compared to 85 percent of districts that met that mark in 2014.
Bradley County Schools, as nearly every school district in Tennessee, fully implemented the new official state standards in school year 2013-2014. “We provided our teachers with professional development, support, and resources,” stated Johnny McDaniel, director of Schools. “Our teachers rose to the occasion and taught deeper and more rigorous lessons even while realizing that testing would not align with teaching.”
Bradley County Schools did not reach the achievement target for 3-8 reading/language arts established by the TDOE accountability system. “Our scores in that area have remained steady over the past three years and remain above the state average,” shared Director McDaniel. “Our test results do not reflect the hard work and dedication that our teachers put into every lesson and that is sad. Our teachers take the test results personally, and they are disheartened.” Fifth grade scores are predicted to show an increase and would be above the state average as well.
During the 2013-2014 school year, Bradley County Schools placed an emphasis on meeting the needs of economically disadvantaged students. Focus grants provided professional development to faculty and staff, and title funds were utilized to foster a better understanding of the intricacies of working with ED students. As a result, Bradley County Schools closed the achievement gap between ED students and non-ED students in 3-8 reading and math. Bradley County also closed the achievement gap between Black/Hispanic/Native American and non-BHN students in the areas of 3-8 math, 3-8 reading/language arts, English II and English III. This was also a subgroup that was identified in 2012-2013 as a subgroup in need of improvement.
A positive trend is in 7th grade reading/language arts where Bradley County has seen a 10 percent increase in proficiency levels over the past three years. In 2014, 54 percent of Bradley County 7th graders reached proficiency which is above the state average of 50 percent. Bradley County Schools invested in SpringBoard curriculum to assist middle school teachers in teaching the Tennessee state standards. Students in English I scored 72.3 percent proficient/advanced which is above the state average. English II scores also increased 5.4 percent from last year which shows 65.8 percent proficient/advanced and is also above the state average.
Students in Bradley County Schools have made steady gains in STEM subjects, specifically science and math. Algebra I had a slight decrease in proficiency levels but still increased 3.2 percent over the past three years and remains above the state average. Algebra II has also increased 13.3 percent over the course of three years. There were 66.6 percent of students in Bradley County who scored proficient/advanced in Biology which is above the state average by 3.1 percent. Science, grades 3-8, showed a gain of 1.3 percent to 65.9 percent which also is above the state average of 63.6 percent.
The percentage of students scoring proficient/advanced in social studies is above the state average by 3.6 percent. Student scores in U.S. History increased to 98.3 percent proficient/advanced.
District-level TVAAS Composites are scores that assess growth at the district level. These scores are comprised of testing results for SAT 10 (grades K-2), TCAP (grades 3-8), and EOC (grades 9-12). One-year, two-year, and three-year trends are reported for each district-level composite. This year an overall score of 1 was reported for Bradley County. “Our test scores were down, and we did not get the growth we had anticipated,” stated Director McDaniel. “It was unfortunate that during TCAP testing we experienced severe weather to the extent that the Department of Education strongly suggested that we adjusted the testing schedule. This may have put our students at a disadvantage. The weather situation was a reminder of the tornado outbreak of April, 2011, that has had lasting effects on some of our students.”
The three-year trend still shows that Bradley County District-level Composite is a level 5. A score of “5” is the most effective where students are making substantially more progress than the Standard for Academic Growth. “It is reassuring to know that even though we had a downturn this year, our trend is still to get substantially more growth from our students,” Mr. McDaniel continued. “Our teachers are very dedicated to the students of Bradley County and work hard to help each child become College and Career Ready. I am proud of our teachers. For most educators, teaching is not a job, it is a calling. Our teachers are committed to our students and their families."
To see district-level TCAP results, visit: http://tn.gov/education/data/tcap_2014_districts.shtml.
For more information, contact Kelli Gauthier at (615) 532-7817 or Kelli.Gauthier@tn.gov