Lauderdale County Schools showed notable improvement in overall student performance in 2019 and has been recognized for a higher accountability classification by the state. The Tennessee Department of Education’s recent release of school district accountability results noted that Lauderdale County Schools moved to the higher status of “Achieving”. School districts must increase achievement levels for all students and show faster growth in achievement for the students who are furthest behind in order to narrow achievement gaps. Districts receive a rating for all students and for student groups, including students with disabilities, English learners, economically disadvantaged students, and Black, Hispanic, and Native American students.
Based on student performance, each school district in the state receives a final determination status for academic progress. These determinations are calculated as a result of multiple pre-determined indicators. The four accountability classifications are detailed below:
District is showing isolated improvement, if any
District is improving on average but missing growth expectations
District is meeting growth expectation on average
District is exceeding growth expectation on average
The state’s model is built on multiple indicators or metrics that reflect district and school success. These metrics include graduation rates, state achievement test scores, student academic growth data, English learner performance, chronic absenteeism, and how ready students are when they graduate. Ready graduate indicators include early postsecondary opportunities, industry certifications, and ACT/SAT scores which qualify students for the Tennessee HOPE scholarship. Each indicator is weighted individually as described in the table below:
Achievement: TCAP achievement data (grades 3-8) and EOC data (grades 9-12) for Math and English/Language Arts subjects
Growth: Value-added data indicating student-level growth metric measuring whether students make expected annual progress
Graduation Rate: Percent of students in the graduation cohort that graduate on time with a regular diploma
Ready Graduate: Percent of students who graduate and meet post-secondary readiness criteria (21+ composite on ACT)
Chronically Out of School: Percent of students who miss more than 10 percent of instructional days, including for out-of-school suspension
English Language Proficiency: Percent of students making expected growth
Although the state’s accountability system does not directly monitor Kindergarten through 2nd Grade data, student progress is monitored locally for foundational and instructional reading skills. Students in these grades are making larger than average gains due to the hard work of teachers, support staff, and administrators. Pre-K students in the county also showed a mastery of skills on the Phonemic Awareness Literacy Screening benchmark (PALS). An overwhelming majority of Pre-K students met and/or exceeded the developmental standards measured through PALS.
“The school district is pleased with moving to the higher accountability status of “Advancing” and clearly recognizes the need to focus on continuous improvement and growth for all students. Teachers and administrators are aware of the areas of needed improvement and are working hard to deliver quality instruction for all students.” says school superintendent, Shawn Kimble
Schools will continue to focus on the alignment of instruction to the state standards, improving ACT scores, and expanding career-technical opportunities in an effort to increase industry certifications and employability upon graduation. The district has maintained one of the highest graduation rates in the state, but understands that more must be done to increase the readiness of each graduate, whether it is through ACT scores, career-technical certifications, or dual enrollment opportunities.
“We know there are many challenges and areas of needed improvement at the school and district level; however, I am pleased that our district as a whole is showing continued progress. I can’t thank our parents, teachers, support staff, administrators, and community enough for all they do to make our students successful”, says Kimble.
In addition to all of the academic measures, each school is working toward increasing and refining the social skills students need to be successful during and after school hours. As noted in the school district’s mission, the responsibility rests on all schools to provide each child with the education and social skills needed to be productive citizens.