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Tennessee students show improvement in statewide testing for second year

Students test at Hixson High School. (Image: WTVC)

Tennessee Department of Education officials say the scores for this year's TNReady testing are in, and they show improvement among the state's school district for the second year in a row.

Hamilton County Department of Education officials and Bradley County Schools also released numbers showing improvement for students (more on that below).

Education Commissioner Candice McQueen says 102 districts – more than three-fourths of districts with high schools – increased the percent of students now scoring on track or mastered in high school English, and 61 districts showed an increase in students who are meeting course expectations in high school math. Overall, 54 districts increased the percent of on track or mastered students in both high school math and English.

To see your school district's results, go here, and click on "District Level EOC Results" (you'll be asked to download an Excel spreadsheet).

McQueen's office says in addition to this growth in students who achieved proficiency, districts also reduced the percentage of students who scored in the lowest performance level, which is called below. A release from the department says, "This shows that even while students have not yet reached proficiency, they are still advancing to higher performance levels.

McQueen's office says nearly every district reduced the percent of high school students scoring as below in English, and about two-thirds of districts with high schools reduced the percent of students scoring at below in both high school math and English.

“These encouraging results show that our students are rising to meet the more rigorous expectations of our standards,” Commissioner McQueen said. “Seeing substantial improvements at this scale will take time, but we know the strong instruction our educators focus on every single day is most important to students’ long-term success. We are committed to holding all of our students to high expectations while supporting them on the path to get there.”

TNReady is the statewide assessment administered to all students in grades 3-11. The Tennessee Department of Education calls it a more rigorous assessment compared to past state TCAP tests and is fully aligned to Tennessee’s academic standards, which are based on what students need to know and be able to do each year to ultimately be prepared for college and their careers.

TNReady scores fall into one of four achievement levels: mastered, on track, approaching, and below. These categories aim to help teachers and parents easily understand if students are ready for the next step in their academic journey and identify which students may need additional support ­­– which are the goals of state assessments.

Earlier this summer, Commissioner McQueen announced that at the state level, Tennessee high school students improved across all subject areas – English, math, science, and U.S. history – on TNReady end-of-course exams. She says this improvement means that thousands of additional students are meeting course expectations.

McQueen's office says this year’s results build on the first year of TNReady end-of-course assessments from 2015-16, where high school students set a new baseline for achievement based on educator-developed expectations that better ensure all students are on track for success in postsecondary and the workforce. In addition to overall growth, 2017 end-of-course results show some encouraging performance from Tennessee’s historically underserved student groups. In particular, all student groups – students with disabilities, English learners, economically disadvantaged students, and Black, Hispanic, and Native American students – improved on TNReady end-of-course exams in English. In the district-level end-of-course results released today, the public can also view information on how individual student groups performed in each district and on each subject test.

For example, in high school English:

  • 64 districts improved the percent of Black, Hispanic, and Native American students who scored on track or mastered,
  • 79 districts saw the same improvement for economically disadvantaged students,
  • 57 districts had more students with disabilities scoring on track or mastered, and
  • 11 districts improved the percent of English learner students scoring on track or mastered

McQueen's office says in the coming weeks, districts will receive family and educator reports on the TNReady end-of-course exams to distribute to their families and teachers. Teacher evaluation data will also be available for educators over the next few weeks. This fall, the department will finalize scores and release the TNReady results for grades 3-8 at both the state and district level. For all grades, including high school, school-level TNReady data will be available when the state report card is released in late fall. Districts may choose to release their school-level end-of-course data earlier at their discretion.

Meanwhile, Hamilton County Department of Education spokeswoman Amy Katcher says these new scores show that "Hamilton County Schools are making strides across the board."

She says, "As student achievement increased across the state, the same happened here in Hamilton County. The district posted increased achievement rankings in the released preliminary results. This is particularly significant given the new TNReady test, now in its second year, is far more rigorous than the test given in years’ past. The new test more closely aligns to national tests to ensure more students graduate ready for college and career."

HCDE Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson says while he is pleased with the initial signs of improvement, he says he knows the district must work to discover new ways to address the areas of concern. “We are excited that our grades 9-12 data indicates we are moving in an upward direction and beginning to outpace districts that outperformed us in previous years. We also recognize that we still trail state averages in most subject areas and have work to do, but are encouraged that the performance gap between the district and state is beginning to close.”

EOC English and math scores increased for 2017, when compared with 2016. “There was a strong focus on literacy and teacher support, which proved beneficial,” said Chief of Opportunity Schools Jill Levine.

HCDE Numbers at a glance:

  • HCDE students with “college ready” ACT composite scores of 21 or higher increased to 40.1%, compared with 36.6% in 2016.
  • Fourteen of HCDE’s 19 high schools saw greater gains in ACT composite scores this year, when compared with the school year ending in 2016.
  • HCDE student gains outpaced the state in mathematics. HCDE’s ranking in the state compared to other districts increased by 14.3 percentage points.
  • Nearly one-third of all HCDE students in grades 9-12 are considered to be ‘on-track’ or ‘mastered’ in English. This is an improvement of approximately 2.7 percentage points.

See the full Hamilton County release including the numbers below:

Bradley County Schools also released its findings. Read more below:



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