By David Carroll

dcarroll@wrcbtv.com

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)- Sixteen Hamilton County schools are classified as "High Priority" by the Tennessee Department of Education on the newly released Adequate Yearly Progress and State Report Card.

One school, Ooltewah High is listed on the state's "Celebration" list, for having met federal standards in the areas needing improvement for two consecutive years.  Ooltewah High had been on the High Priority list, but has now been removed.

 A high priority school is one that has missed the same federal benchmark for more than one consecutive year. The different levels of high priority schools/systems are:  School Improvement 1, School Improvement 2, Corrective Action, Restructuring 1, Restructuring 2 and State Education Agency/Local Education Agency Reconstitution Plan.

The schools on the High Priority list include (in School Improvement 1): Donaldson Elementary (improving), Dalewood Middle, East Lake Academy, Hillcrest Elementary, Orchard Knob Elementary, Rivermont Elementary and Tyner Middle Academy.

Schools listed as School Improvement 2 (failing to meet standards for three consecutive years) are: Central High, Clifton Hills Elementary, East Ridge Middle, Orchard Knob Middle, Red Bank High and Sequoyah High.

Lookout Valley Middle/High and Soddy-Daisy High are listed at the next level of priority, "Corrective Action."  Howard High School, which has been on the list for several years, is now classified as "improving" under its state and local Reconstitution Plan.  All other Hamilton County schools are in Good Standing.

Other area schools on the High Priority list include Cleveland High (School Improvement 1, improving), Polk County High (School Improvement 1, improving), Sequatchie County High (School Improvement 2) and Sequatchie Count Middle (School Improvement 1, improving).

Here is the statement from the Hamilton County Department of Education:

With the first year implementation of higher standards in Tennessee, academic
achievement dipped as expected in Hamilton County with scores dropping. However, the district's 4-year ontime graduation rate jumped 13 percent.


The Tennessee Department of Education released the 2010 Report Card for the Hamilton County Department of Education today. The Report Card details Adequate Yearly Progress under the federal No Child Left Behind Act and academic achievement. Hamilton County received Cs in Academic Achievement and three Ds and one B in student academic progress.

The graduation rate increased to 80.2%, and Ooltewah High School made AYP, so it comes off the High Priority List. The way the state calibrated test scores changed dramatically in 2009 as the Tennessee implemented higher standards this year. Academic Achievement grades are based on a bell curve for the last three years.

"As this is the first year where the higher standards are being measured, we were expecting this drop in the percentage of students who scored proficient and advanced," said Superintendent Dr. Jim Scales. "However, we made amazing strides in increasing our graduation rate, decreasing suspensions and maintaining positive attendance, all major hurdles for the district in the past."

Key results in the 2010 Report Card include:
• The District's graduation rate jumped 13% to 80.2%.
• Students continued to demonstrate strong writing skills scoring 4.1 to 4.2 out of 6
• Dropout rate declined 30% from 19.1% to 13.5%.
• Academic Achievement scores for Grades 3-8 were all Cs (same as the state).
• ACT composite scores dipped to 18.6.
• The District K-8 attendance held steady at 94.9% with the high schools climbing to 92.2%.
• The percentage of 3-8 students scoring proficient and advanced in reading was 48%.
• The percentage of 3-8 students scoring proficient and advanced in math was 38%.

• The percentage of high school students scoring proficient and advanced on the Algebra I
Gateway/EOC was 67%

• The percentage of high school students scoring proficient and advanced on the English II
Gateway/EOC was 68%.

"There is no doubt the higher standards are tougher for our students. While these scores are lower than we would like to see, we must continue to challenge our students and be competitive nationally," said Board of Education Chairman Everett Fairchild. "We are very proud of the work our students and teachers are doing in every classroom in Hamilton County."

The 2010 Report Card is based on student performance in the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program administered in Spring 2010. Students in grades 3-8 are measured based on reading and math scores from the state standardized test. High school achievement is based on scores in math (a blend of End of Course, Gateway and portfolio exams) and English (a blend of End of Course and Gateway exams). 2010 marked the first year the state's more rigorous standards were implemented and tested.

Student scores are reported in one of four areas:

• Advanced = Student demonstrates superior mastery in academic performance

• Proficient = Student demonstrates mastery in academic performance

• Basic = Student demonstrates partial mastery in academic performance

• Below Basic = Student does not demonstrate mastery in academic performance

Hamilton County students scored moderately well on standardized tests with more rigorous content this year.

Approximately 38% of students in grades 3-8 were proficient or advanced in Math with 48% being proficient or advanced in Reading/Language Arts plus writing. These scores, while low, are in keeping with what the district expected with the implementation of the higher standards.

"What was considered proficient in the past is now closer to Basic. Advanced scores from previous years are closer to the new Proficient," Dr. Scales said. "These scores are a realistic view of how our students compare to their counterparts around the country. And while we did relatively well for the first year of implementation of the rigorous standards, we still have a lot of work to do."

The Report Card also details information about student demographics, attendance, promotion rates, graduation rates, dropout rates, test scores, writing assessments, ACT results and No Child Left Behind (NCLB) school status/standards.

Adequate Yearly Progress

With regard to No Child Left Behind, schools are rated for Adequate Yearly Progress in terms of their achievement on the 2010 tests. As such, 26 Hamilton County schools did not meet federal benchmarks this year. Of these 26 schools, 16 will be on the state's High Priority List (School Improvement I to State Takeover) with another 10 in Target status.

However, three schools on the state's high priority list in 2009 did make AYP this year: Calvin Donaldson, Howard School and Ooltewah High School. Ooltewah High School celebrates several years of hard work and moves into Good Standing this year. Calvin Donaldson and Howard School both made AYP this year and move into improving status. This is the first year in Howard's history that it has made AYP. If both schools continue to make progress next year, they will officially come off the state's high priority list. East Lake Elementary, Battle Academy, Bess T. Shepherd Elementary and Red Bank Middle School also made AYP and move back into Good Standing (from Target status in 2009).

Value Added

Each year, the Report Card includes a grade, from A-F, for both academic achievement and student improvement (Value Added). Academic achievement is based on scores on standardized tests. Value Added scores measure student progress within each grade (3-8) and subject from one year to the next. The state's average for Value Added growth is represented with a "C" grade.


The way Value Added grades were calibrated changed dramatically in 2009. The 2010 Value Added scores are the new baseline for future academic growth.

Hamilton County received three Ds and one B in Value Added in 2010

Graduation Rate


Hamilton County's four-year on-time graduation rate climbed 13% to 80.2%. This amazing increase is due to hard work by teachers and staff at the high schools. In response to the low graduation rate in 2009, Hamilton County organized a community-wide graduation summit to discuss the issue and brainstorm possible solutions to the dropout crisis. Graduation teams were created for each high school, with staff assigned to support fragile students as they continued to work towards graduation. Additionally, credit recovery programs were put into place that helped many students graduate who otherwise would have not made the
four-year timeline.


The district's four-year cohort drop-out rate also declined. Again, the focus on limiting dropouts, maximizing credit recovery and sheltering fragile students through the graduation process factored into this drop.

"Increasing the graduation rate and reducing dropouts was our top challenge. Our principals, staff and students rose to the task and did an amazing job," Dr. Scales said. "We know that without a high school diploma our students cannot be successful. While we have come a long way, we are not done. We must continue to emphasize how important it is for students to graduate high school."


Conclusion


While the results of the 2010 Report Card are what the district had been expecting in light of the more rigorous standards, there remains work to be done. Students continue to achieve and grow in their learning while schools continue to focus on individualized student success.

Hamilton County Schools also continues to implement programs designed to help the
district achieve the goals outlined in the Strategic Plan 2011. Test score data is one tool the district uses to help refine curriculum and instruction at the building level so that all students and schools can continue to achieve.


"We know we have our challenges, and we are putting programs and processes in place to address them. The new standards are harder, but they are good for kids," Dr. Scales said. "We need to get kids from point A to point B on time and with the skill set that enables them to be successful. We need to do a better job educating our economically disadvantaged and minority students in this district. We must also continue to increase the number of students who graduate each year while reducing dropouts. We accept these challenges, and we
will get it done."

Hamilton County schools receving all A's on academic achievement tests were Apison, Big Ridge, CSLA, Lookout Mountain, McConnell, Nolan, Normal Park, Smith, Thrasher and Westview Elementary schools, as well as Loftis and Signal Mountain Middle Schools.

Hamilton County schools receiving all F's on academic achievement tests were Clifton Hills, Donaldson, Hardy, Hillcrest, Orchard Knob, Rivermont and Woodmore Elementary schools, as well as Dalewood, East Lake and Orchard Knob Middle Schools.

For value added (TVAAS) scores, all A's were received by Ganns Middle Valley and Ooltewah Elementary Schools.  Falling Water Elementary and Signal Mountain Middle received all F's in the value added category.

For more information on all Tennessee schools, go to http://edu.reportcard.state.tn.us/pls/apex/f?p=200:1:3666868613041927