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TCAP scores revealed

By Jared Felkins jfelkins@lebanondemocrat.com • Updated Jul 30, 2014 at 10:25 PM

The previous school year had some highs and lows in both Lebanon and Wilson County schools, as indicated with the state’s release of Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program test scores Wednesday. 

Lebanon schools achieved the highest level of growth score in each of the state’s value-added categories for the second year in a row. Lebanon students earned five out of five possible in each of the four value-added assessment categories, including system-wide composite, system-wide literacy, system-wide numeracy and system-wide numeracy/literacy. 

On the kindergarten through second-grade achievement, Lebanon schools had a higher percentage of students score proficient or advanced in all measured areas of math. The district achieved nearly a 10-percent increase in proficiency in math on the TCAP in third through fifth grades and a 1.4-percent gain in science scores. 

“We are proud and excited to have a district composite of a five for the second year in a row, as well as the significant increase in the percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced in the elementary schools this past year,” said Lebanon Director of Schools Scott Benson. “I congratulate all our teachers on their effort and commitment in working with our students to achieve this significant academic growth.” 

In Wilson County high schools, 2014 TCAP scores showed a persistent trend. In comparing student achievement from 2012-13 to the past school year, the percentage of students scoring at the proficient or advanced levels in high schools showed improvement in both math and English courses. 

In math, student achievement increased by 2.2 percent in Algebra I and by 4.3 percent in Algebra II. That same trend continued in English Language Arts courses, with an increase in English I by 3.4 percent, English II by 2.8 percent and English III by 1.6 percent. 

The graduation rate also held steady as one of the top-ranking districts in the state at more than 95 percent. In addition to student achievement, student growth measured significantly above expectations in Wilson County high schools.

“Although some may define the 2013-14 school year by numerous changes, the teachers and students of Wilson County Schools worked harder than ever for success,” said Wilson County Director of Schools Donna Wright. 

Although Lebanon schools experienced the highest growth scores possible as a system total, the district met only three of the six annual measureable objectives goals set by the Tennessee Department of Education for the school year, including third-grade math, third-grade reading/language arts and third- through eighth-grade math. 

While Lebanon schools closed the achievement gap for students with disabilities in math and reading, as well as for English language learners in reading, closing achievement gaps between other subgroups and non-subgroups continued to be a concern, Benson said.

“To address these challenges, a strong literacy focus and extensive plan to ensure teachers and administrators have a means to regularly analyze each student’s academic performance and design a personalized intervention and/or enrichment plan to satisfy each learner’s needs have been established for this upcoming school year,” Benson said. “As indicated by our district-wide TVAAS growth, we are making positive gains in moving our students to the next level. During the 2014-2015 school year, we will continue to focus on strategies that will close our subgroup gaps while continuing to challenge all our students to attain higher levels of achievement.”

Lebanon schools overall met three of eight gap closure goals and three of six achievement goals, which placed the district in the “in need of improvement” category. State officials define in need of improvement districts as those, which “fail to reach the majority of their target goals for both achievement and gap closure. These districts will meet in-person with department officials to set an aggressive, effective plan to meet the goals they missed the year prior.”

After showing significant and consistent increases in achievement from the 2011-12 school year to the 2012-13 school year in Wilson County, student outcomes in the areas of math and reading/language arts for grades 3-8 showed mixed results. The percentage of students scoring at proficient or advanced levels in seventh-grade reading/language arts continued to improve in 2014 with an increase of 1.4 percent. The dips in other math and ELA courses in third through eight grade ranged from only 0.9 percent in math to 9.7 percent in third-grade reading/language arts.

Wilson County schools overall were placed in the “in need of subgroup improvement” category, specifically in the areas of economically disadvantaged students, students with disabilities and ELL students. 

These measures do not reflect the strong efforts of our schools’ students, teachers, or administrators. In Wilson County Schools, 2014 student outcomes show an aptitude for progress. As defined by the state, districts in this category may successfully attain their goals in achievement, gap closure or even both, but experience declines among particular groups of students and should focus efforts on ensuring all groups of students show improvement in the following year.

“We have critically evaluated these outcomes and look ahead to the upcoming school year,” said Wright. “We recognize that there are areas of strength within each classroom and school, as well as areas in need of improvement. The goal of all our educators is to assess instructional practices and strategies and to develop effective methods that will aid in improvement.”

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