State Report Card Shows Pluses, Minuses For Cannon Schools
by KEVIN HALPERN
Tuesday, November 3, 2009 5:32 pm
Cannon County Schools scored all Cs in academic achievement on the Tennessee Department of Education’s annual Report Card released Tuesday.
The report card shows how students in grades performed in the following subjects: math, reading/language, social studies and science.
"We are doing well in some things but we do have some work to do," Director of Schools Barbara Parker said. "We are in good standing as far as No Child Left Behind status. We only have one school, Woodbury Grammer, that is on the target list.
Schools and school systems that do not meet required federal benchmarks for one year are assigned the status of “Target.”
Woodbury Grammer is on the target list for math, Parker said. "They are putting in some things now such as math interventions, so they have already started to work on the problem."
The Tennessee Department of Education released the annual comprehensive report card on pre-K – 12 education, including state, district and school-level information on achievement, demographics, and discipline on Tuesday.
Cannon County's scores were math 46, reading/language 48, social studies 48 and social studies 49 in the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program category.
For value added grades, Cannon County scored a B in math and Cs in reading/language, social studies and science.
"As a system, as far as the system AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) summary, we did not meet AYP again, it was in math, and it was in the sub-group for students with disabilities," Parker said. "The area we need to target with extra effort in AYP summary is students with disabilities."
This year, the state has changed how it calculates grades based on higher standards under the Tennessee Diploma Project. Results were reindexed and cannot be compared to last year's letter grades.
This year’s report card demonstrates fundamental changes to the calculations of Value Added and Achievement scores. The method of calculating scores and the scale used to determine letter grades have been revised to allow for a transition to the new standards and assessments required by the Tennessee Diploma Project.
“Because we have been on an aggressive path of improvement with the Tennessee Diploma Project, it was necessary to utilize this transition year to change our calculation methods and more accurately demonstrate student progress in an effort to pursue higher standards,” Education Commissioner Timothy Webb said.
Two major changes have been implemented for calculation of scores on the Report Card. First, the baseline year for comparing student achievement has been reset using 2009 test scores. Second, a new grade scale will be used. The scale used to determine all grades A through F has been dramatically revised, meaning scores considered to be an “A” proficient in years past may now be a “B” or “C”.
“Part of student success means setting the stage,” said Dr. Connie Smith, Assistant Commissioner of Accountability, Teaching and Learning. “With the Tennessee Diploma Project and recalibrating the Report Card, we’re setting the stage for our students to be more competitive and better prepared for career or college after high school.”
In 2007, the Tennessee Department of Education launched the Tennessee Diploma Project. The more rigorous curriculum and graduation requirements the TDP call for become effective this year.
Among areas of concern highlighted in the report for Cannon County schools are dropout and graduation rates. The dropout rate increased from 8.3 percent in 2008 to 17.7 percent in 2009, and the graduation rate deceased from 83.5 percent to 72.7 percent.
"For K8 the attendance rate was 95.5 and the state goal was 93, so we met the benchmark for that," Parker said. "Promotion rate for us was 98.7 and the state goal was 97, so we meet the goal for attendance and promotion on the elementary level.
"On the high school level we met the goal for attendance, 94.8, and the goal was 93.0. The dropout rate, we are a little bit high there. That's what I am researching, and I am not sure why. The same thing with the graduation rate. We dropped 11 points there."
"This is something that we really need to tackle, and we are," Parker said. "We have some interventions in place but we are still trying to reach that goal.
The report card also shows that Cannon County spends almost $1,000 less per student per year than the state average. Cannon Count's per pupil expenditure is $7,653 per year while the average statewide is $8,518.
"As far as positive, I believe that Cannon County gets a lot for the money that they put into it," Parker said. "We spend almost thousand dollars less than the state average to educate our students, so I think our students are doing well."
Cannon County has 2,286 students enrolled in schools this year and a budget of $13 million.
"I think another positive is that all of our schools are good," Parker said. "They really try hard, the teachers want the students to succeed, the work ethic is there, and I think that shows in that we do have schools that are in good standing.
Parker said students, parents and the community are getting a good return in their investment in schools.
"We use the money that have effectively and we are teaching the students and we are meeting the standards. And when we do have an issue where we have a weakness, and math seems to be a weakness along with graduation rates, everyone gets on the bandwagon to try to solve the problem."