The Tennessee Department of Education released the results of the 2012 Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP). The state released that nearly all of the its 136 districts saw proficiency levels increase and two-thirds improved in every subject on the 3-8 TCAP Achievement tests. Students in Bradley County Schools are included in these remarkable results. In fact, Bradley County students outscored the state proficiency average in all but two areas, these being 3-8 math and Algebra II. Bradley County Schools outranks some neighboring school district in every category.
While Bradley County did not exceed the state average in 3-8 math, there were significant gains with a 6 percent increase in proficiency over last year. In Algebra II proficiency, Bradley County reports a rate of 30 percent compared to the state average of 33.3 percent proficient or advanced. In contrast, Algebra I End of Course tests increased 13.9 percent in proficiency, ranking Bradley County 49th out of 122 districts. As announced in late 2010, Bradley County Schools began a math initiative much like its well-established reading initiative. The reading initiative continues to garner phenomenal results while the math initiative is also beginning to bring great results.
“Bradley County had excellent growth in its core subjects this year, with particularly high growth in math and science,” stated Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman. “In fact, proficiency levels in Algebra I grew by nearly 14 percent, and proficiency in Biology climbed by 14.5 percent – phenomenal growth for a single year which will help many more high school students prepare for post-secondary education,” concluded Commissioner Huffman.
Johnny McDaniel, Director of Bradley County Schools, praised the work of teachers, staff and administrators. “Amidst a year of rebuilding and relocating from the destruction left behind from the storms of 2011, teachers and staff in Bradley County Schools have continued to focus on our commitment to excellence,” stated Mr. McDaniel. “Teachers have been supported by a great team of administrators throughout this year of change to a new teacher evaluation system. I am very proud of their dedication and hard work.”
Earlier this year, President Obama approved a waiver to allow Tennessee to adopt a new accountability system to measure Annual Yearly Progress. The new system which replaces No Child Left Behind legislation establishes Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs) and Gap Closures for every subgroup to more accurately measure system growth. These goals differ for each school system based upon individual starting points rather than an across-the-board benchmark.
Bradley County Schools has shown an increase in proficiency levels as reported in 2011-2012 TCAP and End-of-Course tests results. Bradley County Schools met all AMOs as established for the district by the Tennessee Department of Education. Gap Closures for all subgroups showed improvement except for Students with Disabilities. Failure to meet gap closure in this subgroup is a direct result of a federal regulation which caps modified testing for special needs students at two percent of the number of students enrolled in a tested grade. Therefore, across the state, the Tennessee Department of Education reassigned the scores of hundreds of students in special education from proficient or advanced to basic based on modified testing. The appeal to accept these scores was denied, placing Bradley County Schools In Need of Subgroup Improvement along with 53 other districts in the state.
According to Dr. Tena Stone, Director of Special Services, students will receive the scores they earned. “Those are the scores parents will receive by mail,” stated Dr. Stone. “Our system, however, will not receive credit for those scores and this has led in part to our district standing of In Need of Subgroup Improvement.”
Commissioner Huffman has announced that there will be discussions held this year to look at more accurate ways to report on the growth and achievement that occurs in special education and to more carefully apply the cap in a way that does not give misleading information about systems.
The Tennessee Department of Education allows the IEP teams to decide within guidelines whether or not a student with special needs should be allowed access to modified testing. IEP teams are under no mandate to cap the number of students they allow to test with modifications, such as having tests read aloud for the student. “IEP teams make decisions in the best interest of the student,” stated Dr. Stone, Director of Special Services.
“We are proud of the high level of proficient students our district has in special education,” stated Johnny McDaniel, Director of Bradley County Schools. “We are grateful for the hard work of our special education teachers and staff.”