Reward Schools list includes 6 charters, 5 magnets, 2 zoned schools and 1 non-traditional school
Fourteen Metro schools placed in the top five percent of public schools statewide for academic achievement, growth or both, according to the Tennessee Reward Schools list released by the Tennessee Department of Education today. The list of Metro Schools represents a mix of charter schools, magnet schools and zoned schools.
Reward schools earn recognition for performance, meaning very high raw achievement scores, or progress, meaning a large increase in scores from year to year. Two of the schools made the Reward list for both performance and progress, placing them in the upper echelons of schools statewide – Liberty Collegiate Academy, a charter school in East Nashville, and MNPS Middle College High School, a non-traditional school located on the campus of Nashville State Community College.
“This is a great way to start the school year. It validates the work our teachers are doing and gives us great momentum going into the first day of school,” said Interim Director of Schools Chris Henson. “We have been visiting with teachers over the last several days, encouraging them to continue this steady progress. Having such high recognition for so many of our schools is evidence that they are helping improve educational opportunities for students of all backgrounds and from all areas of Nashville.”
The district’s 2014-15 Reward Schools are:
- Glendale Elementary Spanish Immersion Elementary School – Performance
- Lockeland Elementary Design Center – Performance
- Percy Priest Elementary School – Performance
- Meigs Magnet Middle Prep – Performance
- Hume-Fogg Magnet High School – Performance
- Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet School – Performance
- Liberty Collegiate Academy – Performance & Progress
- MNPS Middle College High School – Performance & Progress
- Apollo Middle Prep – Progress
- Intrepid College Preparatory School – Progress
- KIPP Academy Nashville – Progress
- Lead Academy – Progress
- LEAD Prep Southeast – Progress
- New Vision Academy – Progress
Five of these schools are on the Reward list for the first time:
- Apollo Middle Prep has been on the road of steady improvement for five years and has made incredible gains in all three tested subjects – 30 percentage points in math, 25 percentage points in science and nine percentage points in reading – with more than 86 percent of its student population coming from economically disadvantaged homes.
- MNPS Middle College High School, located on the Nashville State Community College campus, has been quietly building its reputation as a top-tier Nashville high school where students can earn high school diplomas and dozens of college credits simultaneously. Last year alone, 68 students earned 883 college credits, 2 associates degrees and 2 general education certifications before actually graduating from high school.
- Three Metro charter schools are also first timers on the Reward list. LEAD Academy, LEAD Prep Southeast and Intrepid College Prep are all being recognized for growth in student achievement. All three also serve student populations with more than 75 percent coming from economically disadvantaged homes.
The other eight schools returned to the list for at least a second year in a row, including five magnet schools and two charter schools.
“We are proud of all of these schools,” said Henson. “They represent the story that is being told in more than 160 schools district-wide. We are a district on the rise, and we will not stop until every child in Nashville has the chance for a world-class education.”
District continues steady improvement in
9 out of 10 subject areas
- Metro Schools showed achievement gains in 9 out of 10 tested subjects. In seven of those subjects, gains were larger than the state average and as much as double statewide gains in several high school subjects.
- The district scored a 5 out of 5 on the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System, which measures achievement growth.
- The district met 10 out of 11 academic targets set by the state accountability system – the highest number the district has ever met.
- Metro Schools is in good standing with the state once again at Intermediate status under the Tennessee Department of Education accountability system. Four years ago, the district was in Restructuring status, the lowest possible rating under No Child Left Behind.
- TCAP tests, which measure student performance in grades 3-8, saw moderate single-year gains in the number of students scoring proficient or advanced in math and science and a small decline in reading. Five-year gains, however, show growth in every subject, including significant growth in math and science.
- End-of-Course (EOC) exams, which measure student performance in grades 9-12, saw single-year gains in the number of students scoring proficient or advanced in every subject. Five-year gains are very strong, reaching double digits in most subjects.
- The percentage point increases over five years equates to 13,808 more students scoring proficient or advanced on TCAP tests and 5,129 more students scoring proficient or advanced on EOC exams for a total of 18,937 more students when not accounting for student population growth.
- In total, 51% of all Metro schools (75 schools) are growing and/or achieving at levels higher than the state average: 39% in elementary, 65% in middle and 58% in high.
Academic achievement data for the 2014-15 school year shows Metro Nashville Public Schools overall proficiency increasing at a faster rate than the state. As a result of last year’s gains, Metro Schools met 10 out of 11 achievement measures on the state’s accountability system – the most ever for the district.
District data also shows student growth outpacing the state, which reflects year-over-year academic progress for students regardless of proficiency. Metro Schools received a growth rating of five – the highest possible score – in the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS).
Last year’s scores mark a five-year trend of steady increases in student proficiency in 9 of 10 tested subject areas. In 7 of those 10 subjects, Metro Schools’ increases were significant enough to outpace improvement statewide, which similarly saw increases in every subject area except Reading / Language Arts for grades 3-8.
“Teachers and principals need to be proud of the progress their students are showing. We are certainly proud of them,” said Interim Director of Schools Chris Henson. “They have all worked very hard to improve academic opportunities and outcomes for Nashville’s children, and the progress they have made is significant in many areas. Though some years’ gains may seem modest, added up over time they are often quite large. That means more than just a score on a report – it means thousands more students performing at grade level and preparing for higher education.”
The Tennessee Department of Education implemented new standards and assessments in 2010. Since then, the number of students scoring proficient or advanced (P/A) grew significantly in every subject tested, particularly at the high school level, with most climbing by double-digit increases over five years.
If current proficiency levels were applied to the same student population size that the district had in 2010, nearly 19,000 more students are scoring proficient or advanced on the state’s standardized tests than were back then. Although the actual increase in the number of students meeting proficiency is even higher since the district’s student population has grown significantly during that time.
|Grades 3-8 TCAP||Single-year Gains
(in percentage points)
(in percentage points)
|Increase in Students Scoring P/A compared to 2010|
|Reading / Language Arts||-1.4||4.5||13,808|
|Grades 9-12 End-of-Course (EOC) Exams||Single-year Gains
(in percentage points)
(in percentage points)
|Increase in Students Scoring P/A compared to 2010|
*Since 2012, first year of English III and Algebra II EOC exams.
**The Chemistry EOC exam began in 2014.
|All Grades TCAP and EOC Exams||Increase in Students Scoring P/A compared to 2010|
High school subjects are the most consistently improving areas of academic performance. In fact, Nashville’s high school students grew at a faster rate than the state average in six out of seven EOC subjects. Though they have seen large jumps in long-term growth, elementary and middle school achievement levels are still a concern. Literacy, in particular, remains a needed area of focus after a slight decline in overall scores last year and flat scores over the last four years.
“Growth across the board is very promising, but the fact is that fewer than half of our elementary and middle school students are performing at grade level,” said Henson. “It is extremely important that we continue and accelerate this growth. We are ready to keep pushing forward this year with expanded programs to address our weak spots, particularly literacy, and added resources to help special groups of students like those living in poverty or learning to speak English.”
When considering those special groups of students, called subgroups, and the achievement gaps that exist between them and the student body as a whole, the results are mixed. Overall, achievement gaps in Metro Schools are still smaller than achievement gaps statewide in 15 of 16 measures (see chart below). High schools fared better than other grades, meeting targets for minority and economically disadvantaged students, the two largest subgroups in grades 9-12. While all subgroups improved in at least half of the subjects tested, elementary and middle schools only met one target for achievement gap closure.
About half of all Metro schools are achieving or growing at higher levels than the state average. In total, 75 district schools, or 51 percent, exceeded the state average in academic growth and/or achievement. Nineteen of those schools, or 13 percent, surpassed the state for both growth and achievement. These schools exist in every cluster and at every grade level, representing magnet, charter and zoned neighborhood schools.
“Schools all over Nashville are improving, which is good news for students and families,” said Chief Academic Officer Dr. Jay Steele. “This shows that our teachers and school leaders are developing solutions to meet the unique needs and challenges of their students. There is no secret trick to a successful, growing school. It takes empowered principals who can set goals and make instructional decisions at the school level, along with a great faculty to carry it out.”
That kind of flexibility is gaining even more ground in the 2015-16 school year as student-based budgeting has rolled out district-wide. Principals will have access to more funding for subgroups of students so they can better address their particular needs.
In addition, there are district-wide supports available to principals in areas that need improvement. The district’s literacy program is expanding this year thanks to a $1.3 million investment aimed at meeting aggressive three-year goals. The Office of English Learners is also prepared to enhance support for teachers, students and their families through a new department strategic plan and $1.1 million in additional resources.
Long term, the expansion of prekindergarten to every child who wants or needs it is expected to make a major impact in the years ahead as students enter kindergarten with better literacy skills and a much better grasp on the English language. The district received a major federal grant for the expansion and development of high-quality pre-K programming with $8.3 million being invested this year and the possibility for a total of $33 million over four years.
“There is an enormous amount of hard work happening in our schools, but to really accelerate the pace of learning, we will need the full backing of our community,” said Dr. Steele. “Particularly when it comes to literacy, there is a lot parents and community members can do. All of our schools have volunteer opportunities for tutoring, literacy clinics, after school programs and more. Anyone who wants to pitch in to help a child should contact a school or visit SchoolVolunteers.org.”
“We are fortunate to have an excellent strategic plan guiding our way forward,” said Henson. “It calls for greater supports for our schools, personalized learning for every student and empowering principals to make decisions. That is the philosophy driving our actions now and into the future. Regardless of my status as Interim Director of Schools or the on-going search for a permanent leader, this plan and the leadership team that has been carrying it out are still pushing us forward. There is a lot of work still to do and we are unwavering in our commitment to our students.”
Survey to add parent voice to school accountability, planning
Today Metro Schools opens its first ever district-wide parent survey to gather parent opinions on instruction, school climate, communications and the overall school experience. With the information gathered in this survey, a teacher survey and the student survey completed earlier this year, district leaders will have a complete picture of the on-the-ground experience in Metro schools.
“Parent voice is so important to the work we do in schools and here in central office,” said Director of Schools Dr. Jesse Register. “Their perspective can help us see what’s working and what’s not working inside our schools. It will help shape our plans as a district, including school improvement efforts.”
Survey results will be shared with school leaders to impact the ongoing developing of individual School Improvement Plans. District leaders will include them in the Academic Performance Framework (APF), the accountability measure that rates schools according to academic performance, growth, college readiness and school climate. The APF already includes survey results from teachers and students to judge school climate. Adding the parent voice ensures all stakeholders are included when evaluating schools.
The survey is offered online at www.mystudentsurvey.com/parents. It is available in four languages: English, Spanish, Kurdish and Arabic. Parents should complete one survey for each child they have in the district because questions are about an individual child’s experiences in a specific school. Responses will be completely anonymous.
Each school is aiming for a goal of at least 50 percent participation. Principals and parent group leaders will be given toolkits to help them reach out to their families. Links to the survey will be placed on every school website and shared on social media. Postcards will go home with every student, and multiple callouts will occur between now and the survey deadline.
For families without Internet access at home, there will be computers available in their school’s library. There will also be an open computer designated for the parent survey in the Metro Schools Customer Service Center at 2601 Bransford Avenue. Public library computers are also available.
Number of Metro Nashville Reward Schools jumps from 12 to 18 in just one year
Breaking a new record for the district, 18 Metro schools have been named 2014 Reward Schools by the state Department of Education. That’s an enormous jump from last year’s list of 12 schools, and it’s representative of the increased student achievement district wide. As a district, Metro Schools posted some of the highest scores statewide for growth in several subjects.
Schools with Reward status are among the highest performing in the state. They are given the designation for landing in the top five percent of all schools statewide for growth, performance or both. Of the 18 Metro schools on the list, five are there for performance, nine for growth and four in both categories.
“These 18 schools reach across geography and across type. They are schools making a difference for our students, helping them grow and achieve,” said Director of Schools Dr. Jesse Register. “We are very proud of the work they do, and we need to see more of this kind of progress elsewhere in the district. These schools have found a path to success, and they are the ones to follow.
Reward schools for progress are determined according to the Tennessee Value-added Assessment System (TVAAS) growth index, which is the state’s system for measuring growth. Metro elementary and middle schools have the second highest TVAAS growth index in the state for math and are in the top five percent statewide for reading / language arts. Metro high schools, meanwhile, have the best TVAAS growth index in the state for English II and are in the top five percent for English I.
One of the schools making the most growth in Tennessee is Antioch High School. From 2007 to 2010, Antioch was in one of the lowest categories for achievement under No Child Left Behind. This year they are the very first zoned high school in Nashville to earn Reward Status.
“Antioch has been on a journey for several years,” said Dr. Adrienne Battle-Koger, Antioch’s executive principal. “With our Reward School status, International Baccalaureate and wall-to-wall model Academies, it’s great to be able to offer South Nashville one of the best high school choices in the state.”
Metro Reward Schools:
Performance & Progress
- Glendale Spanish Immersion Elementary School
- Liberty Collegiate Academy
- Lockeland Elementary Design Center
- Nashville Prep
- Harpeth Valley Elementary School
- Hume-Fogg Magnet High School
- Meigs Magnet Middle Prep
- MLK Magnet School
- Percy Priest Elementary School
- Andrew Jackson Elementary School
- Antioch High School
- Cameron College Prep
- Cameron Middle Prep
- KIPP Academy Nashville
- Knowledge Academy
- New Vision Academy
- Stanford Elementary Montessori Design Center
- STEM Prep Academy
District has more reward schools and fewer focus schools according to state data
The Tennessee Department of Education has released its annual list of priority and focus schools based on 2013-14 achievement data and the results for Metro Nashville’s public schools is mixed. The number of Focus schools has decreased; however, the number of priority schools has increased. Later this week, the state will release its annual list of reward schools and that list will include a significant increase in the number of district schools over last year.
In 2012, Metro Schools had six schools listed as priority. That number increased to 15 in 2014, with eight schools making the list for the first time. The data show most of the schools in priority status did make achievement gains this past year. Those gains, however, are not being made fast enough.
“We are going to take decisive action to address these schools’ needs,” Register said. “We intend to move quickly, to identify areas where progress is not being made fast enough, and to make whatever changes are necessary to help students excel.”
Register said leaders from the Priority schools and several different departments will work together to develop comprehensive plans based on every aspect of each school’s operation – including curriculum, instruction, leadership, student assignment and central office support – and has already mobilized and challenged administrators to begin this work.
Two schools, John Early Museum Magnet Middle and Gra-Mar Middle, have made excellent progress and both came off the Priority list. Those schools’ strategies will be studied for use across the district and Gra-Mar’s former principal, Dr. Antoinette Williams, is now the executive director for middle schools working with schools districtwide. Another positive for the district is the reduction in its number of Focus schools – down from 13 to 9 from last year. Schools are included on the Focus list due to achievement gap issues. Overall, the district’s achievement gap is narrower than the state in all areas measured.
|Bailey Middle||Brick Church Middle||Buena Vista Elementary|
|Inglewood Elementary||Jere Baxter Middle||Joelton Middle|
|Whitsitt Elementary||Kirkpatrick Elementary||Napier Elementary|
|Neely’s Bend Middle||Pearl-Cohn High||Ross Elementary*|
|Churchwell Elementary||Madison Middle||The Cohn School|
*Ross Elementary was closed at the end of 2014. The building was converted into an Early Learning Center for prekindergarten.
Achievement gaps, overall growth all better than state averages
Building on strong momentum, Metro students continued to grow academically in 2013-14, placing the district in the “Achieve” category for overall growth in student achievement.
Elementary school test scores were up in every subject, with students growing at an even faster rate than the state average. In the four years since Tennessee adopted higher academic standards, elementary students have made big gains in all three subjects.
High school students improved in four out of six subjects in 2013-14, with particularly strong growth in English I and English II where gains almost doubled the state average. Four-year trends show growth in every subject, with double-digit growth in three subjects.
“Thanks to the hard work of our students and the dedication of our teachers, the district strategies we’ve developed are working,” said Director of Schools Dr. Jesse Register. “Now we must maintain this momentum. Our teachers and our students have worked too hard to slow down now. We have many of the pieces in place and they are paying off for our students.”
Metro Schools also made good progress in closing achievement gaps, but hard work must continue to close them further. Still, district achievement gaps are now smaller than the state average in every category. In such a diverse district, this is of the utmost importance.
All but one of the student subgroups improved in at least half of the achievement measures in 2013-14. The only group to miss this target was the Asian subgroup, which missed it by just eight students. Because of this, Metro Schools is in the “In Need of Improvement for Asian Students” category for achievement gap closure.
“We always love to see growth, particularly the huge gains we’ve made since 2010, but none of us is satisfied yet,” said Dr. Register. “We want our students achieving at the highest possible level and know how important each year is to their success. We have clear district strategies that are making a difference and will propel us to be the highest performing urban district in the country by 2018.”
Two areas that clearly need immediate attention are English III and Algebra I in high schools and reading/language arts in elementary schools. The stage is set for aggressive growth in these and other areas with these strategies and many others:
- Pre-kindergarten for all children who want or need it by 2018
By expanding pre-kindergarten for all families, we can start building a solid foundation for academic success at an earlier age. This will pay off in the future as students are more prepared for the grades ahead.
- Personalized learning for every student every day in elementary and middle schools
In grades K-8, every student will get 30-60 minutes of personalized instruction every day. That includes intervention for students who need it, enrichment for high achievers and reinforcement of learned skills for others. This will particularly help reading scores catch up to the big growth seen in math and science.
- More technology, family involvement and focused teacher support for English learners (EL)
Students with limited English proficiency will have greater support in the classroom, including language support groups during personalized learning time and more technology integration. This year there will be a specific focus on literacy training for teachers of EL students and general EL training for teachers who work in high EL populations. Parent outreach and involvement will also be priorities.
- Greater student engagement in learning through hands-on projects
Metro middle schools are now working harder to engage students in learning through hands-on projects. This practical – and fun – application of skills helps students retain and have a deeper understanding of the skills they learn in class. It is working in our high schools and will work in middle schools, too.
- Wider identification and enrollment in advanced programs to nurture academic talent
Efforts are already underway to expand the reach of our early gifted programs to underrepresented groups of students like English learners and the economically disadvantaged. We have seen huge growth in the number of high school students taking advanced classes like AP, as well as middle school students seeking high school credit.
- Intelligent school budgeting that supports individual student needs
School-based budgeting is now in 55 Metro schools, including all traditional middle and high schools. This gives principals the freedom to spend money where it can improve student achievement the most. Principals and teachers know best what their students need and should have the power of the purse strings to see those needs met.
High school English III and Algebra I are particular challenges because the district’s push for greater advanced academic participation.
The highest achieving students often take Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or other advanced English classes and are therefore not allowed to take the EOC exam. In 2013-14, more than 700 juniors took one of these advanced English classes instead of English III. It is thrilling to see this many high school students reaching higher and stretching themselves academically, but it also makes English III scores that much more difficult to raise.
Similarly, 2012-13 saw a spike in the number of eighth grade students taking Algebra I – 500 more students – which means they did not take it again in the ninth grade in 2013-14. Because the EOC exam only counts grades nine through 12, again many of the district’s brightest students were excluded from this high school measure. Both of these issues could continue to appear as the district further expands advanced academic opportunities, but clearly more emphasis needs to be placed on helping students in regular and honors English III and Algebra I.
Moving Beyond TCAP
One of the most needed changes that has yet to come is the test itself. TCAP is not an accurate measure of the instruction happening in the district every day. Now entering the fourth year of Common Core implementation, Metro students and teachers are operating at a different level than multiple-choice tests like TCAP. They are not aligned with the standards.
“We need an aligned assessment, and we’re willing to be a test site for the new assessment the state chooses,” said Dr. Register. “TCAP is a snapshot of how a student performs on one day out of the year. We need an assessment that better informs teachers of student learning throughout the year.”
The new class of third graders in Metro Schools has been taught the new standards since starting school in kindergarten. Next May, they will take TCAP tests that are not aligned with the only standards they have ever been taught.
After another year of steady growth, Metro Nashville Public Schools once again earned “Intermediate” status under the State Department of Education’s accountability framework, outperforming districts across Tennessee. This designation comes as a result of strong math gains in all grades tested, with jumps as high as nine percentage points; gains in English III, social studies and science; and continued growth among all student subgroups.
“This status represents the hard work of thousands of district employees and tens of thousands of Metro students,” said Director of Schools Dr. Jesse Register. “It means our students are growing academically every day thanks to continuous improvements in instruction and a targeted use of data at the school and classroom levels.”
The district met 8 of 11 benchmarks designed to measure student achievement within a school district and achievement gaps are narrower than those statewide for 13 of the 16 subgroup accountability measures.
“We have one of the most diverse school systems in the state, with students needing personalized approaches to instruction,” Register said. “The progress we’ve made shows our teachers are up to the challenge of differentiating and personalizing instruction to help our students achieve.”
Students in Metro Nashville Public Schools are achieving at higher levels in nearly all areas tested and the district’s achievement gaps are smaller than those occurring statewide for 13 of the 16 measures calculated, according to testing results released today by the district. The results continue to reflect a pattern of steady progress by Metro Schools, which serves more than 81,000 students.
Overall, students improved in all grades tested in math, with high schools showing the most dramatic increases. Scores also improved in English III, social studies and science.
In this year’s results:
- Math proficiency in grades 3-8 improved by 3.0 percentage points (39.4% to 42.4%), and value added growth in math significantly exceeded the state target.
- High school math scores improved dramatically. Proficiency increased by 9.6 percentage points (41.8% to 51.4%) for Algebra I and 7.1 points (17.1% to 24.2%) for Algebra II.
- English III scores increased by 3.8 percentage points (21.7% to 25.5%).
- The 2012 graduation rate improved from 76.2% to 78.4%, surpassing the Annual Measurable Objective (AMO) set by the state. Metro Schools’ does not yet have the official 2013 grad rate, which will include summer graduates, but preliminary data indicates it will continue to rise.
- Improvement also occurred in subject areas not included in accountability determinations. In grades 3-8, science proficiency increased from 44.5% to 45.2% and social studies scores improved from 75.1% to 75.9%.
Metro Schools’ reading/language arts scores are an area of concern, showing a decline in grades 3-8 and English II, a trend that appears to be reflected across the state. In 2013, Metro Schools’:
- Reading scores across grades 3-8 dropped by seven-tenths of a percentage point (40.6% to 39.9%).
- English II scores declined by 1.2 percentage points (48.7% to 47.5%), although value added growth for this subject significantly exceeded the state average.
“The trends we are seeing with our district data are generally similar to statewide results,” said Director of Schools Dr. Jesse Register. “Math scores are up and TCAP reading and high school English II scores are flat across the state. These results may be affected by the transition to Common Core and a change requiring more exceptional education students to take the TCAP; however, we are not discounting these results and are developing a comprehensive K-12 literacy plan to address our students’ academic needs.”
In addition to a literacy plan, Metro Schools continues to address the achievement gap for subgroups of students. Two areas of notable improvement include:
- The gap between Davidson County students with disabilities and their peers without disabilities is less than half of the statewide gap in grades 3-8 for both reading and math.
- The gap between Black/Hispanic/Native American subgroup and all students is roughly half of the statewide gap in grades 3-8 in both reading and math.
The State Department of Education has not released value added results and district status under its accountability plan. That information is expected in the coming weeks.