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State grades Wilson County schools
Nov 14, 2006 12:00 am
The Wilson County school system fared well again this year on the 2006 State Report Card with all kindergarten-8 achievement scores at or above state average and improved value added scores, but work still needed on ACT and middle school adequate yearly progress marks.
School officials are carefully studying the system and individual school report cards released Friday by the State Department of Education. The news is good with only a few targeted areas of concern, despite the fact the system ranks far below – $1,345 less – the state average on per pupil expenditure.
Teacher salary and benefits will climb the ranks somewhat from last year's 95th position with their recent raise. According to the report, 94.6 percent of courses are taught by "highly qualified teachers."
"I'm extremely pleased," Director of Schools Dr. Jim Duncan said Friday. "The system has done really well and the scores show all the hard work. We've raised the K-8 language arts grade from a B to an A, and our value added scores which measure student progress over a three year period have improved tremendously in every subject."
Two elementary schools – Lakeview and Stoner Creek – made As in every academic achievement category and results show Wilson County public school students are excellent writers with middle and high schoolers acing these tests.
All Wilson County schools this year met the federal benchmarks for No Child Left Behind and Lebanon High School emerged from Improving Status which was previously based on failing marks in the special education language subgroup.
The Report Card is organized in several categories which include system profile, student achievement, value added (TVASS) and adequate yearly progress. The grades show how the system compares statewide, Tennessee Department of Education Dr. Connie Smith said.
"The report card is issued and organized in accordance with state and federal law standards," she said.
Duncan stated the report is missing this year's graduation rate because he has asked for a revision.
"Some students were not counted in the graduation rate," he said. "We have asked for a clarification to be to sure."
Last year's graduation rate was 90.8 percent, a tad above the state's 90 percent average. It had improved from the previous year's 87.8 percent which was below NCLB mandates.
"We think we'll meet that 90 percent mark with the clarification," Duncan said.
The director said he is still pleased with the system's drop out rate, though it has increased from last year's 3.8 percent to 6 percent. The state average is about 10 percent. The rate is still lower than the system's 13 percent three years ago. This category indicates the percentage of students entering the ninth grade and who drop out by the end of 12 grade. Duncan stated many factors can change the percentage and this increase equates to about eight more students choosing not to graduate.
"We are trying to do a good job of keeping kids in school with programs and curriculum," Duncan said. "I believe intersession helps in this."
Overall academic achievement in grades K-8 is about the same as last year, all above state average, maintaining Bs in social studies and science, an A in math and improving in reading/language from a B to an A.
In math, 93 percent of these students scored proficient and advanced. That figure is the same in reading.
Achievement for secondary students is measured by Gateway, ACTs and exit exams. Secondary students scored much higher than average on the gateway exams. In algebra I, 60 percent of those tested scored advanced, and in biology I, 71.6 percent scored advanced with 78 percent scoring advanced in English II.
ACT scores, while decent, trouble Duncan because the average composite score was 20 and a 21 is required to receive the HOPE scholarship. The report doesn't list the state average but last year's was 20.2.
"We definitely need to work to get this higher," Duncan said. "We need to get students to understand the importance of this score."
Math had the lowest average score of 19.5.
Lebanon High School improved in all of these scores
Value added scores were through the roof, according to Duncan. They measure student progress within a grade and subject, which demonstrates the influence the school has on the students' performance. All scores went up in this category. Reading/language went from a B to an A, in math from a C to a B, in Science from a B to an A and in social studies from a B to an A.
Duncan said his main concern is middle school Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) scores, especially in social studies. This is a measure of a school's or school system's ability to meet required federal benchmarks with specific performance standards from year-to-year. Progress in eighth grade across all subjects was below state average with a minus 1.3 score in social studies.
"More gains have to be made and this will be our focus next year. The middle grades are a real challenge in this area," he said. "Our challenge is that we have to strengthening the curriculum in middle school."
Mt. Juliet Managing Editor Laurie Everett may be reached at 754-6397 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.