BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
The Greeneville City Schools are celebrating what may be the best report card the system has ever received from the Tennessee Department of Education.
The state department released 2013 report cards earlier this week, including school-level data and detailed specifics on the district's performance on the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP), ACT, end-of-course testing (EOCs), and more.
"Greeneville City Schools is extremely proud of the accomplishments of our teachers and students," said Suzanne Bryant, assistant director of instruction.
"The Tennessee state report card is a reflection of their hard work and dedication. In light of increased rigor and expectations, our school system experienced the highest growth scores in the history of the school system."
As previously reported, these scores have qualified the system as a High Performing School District and a 2013 SCORE Prize District Finalist.
"We are extremely pleased to be celebrating the highest achievement and growth scores in the history of Greeneville City Schools, based on the 2012-13 data," Director of Schools Dr. Linda Stroud said.
"Academic achievement" signifies overall student performance -- how many students are scoring "Proficient" or "Advanced" within that district's expected performance.
If the number of students scoring Proficient or Advanced is at a level of expected progress, the score is a "C."
This year, Greeneville's schools maintained straight A's for all subjects (math, reading, science and social studies for 3rd-8th grades) for the third straight year.
"Our students scored above the state average in all subjects and at all grade levels (3-12) and were among the top scores in the state in all disciplines," Bryant said.
She noted that EastView and Tusculum View elementary schools and Greeneville Middle School all scored straight A's in achievement.
"Highland Elementary experienced the highest achievement scores in recent history with B's in achievement in all areas," she said.
Stroud particularly praised this accomplishment.
"Highland Elementary students and teachers scored higher than ever before in their 80-year history, and we are very proud of their 'no excuses' attitude," she said.
"Academic growth," also known as "value-added," addresses student progress over three years. An expected year's growth earns the grade C.
A lower grade indicates that less than a year's expected progress has been achieved, while a higher grade indicates more academic growth than the expectation for a year's progress.
The system earned A's in math, science and social studies, and a B in reading.
"The school system received an overall growth score of 5 (on a 1-5 scale, with 5 being the highest)," Bryant said.
Hal Henard Elementary, in addition to straight A's in achievement, earned straight A's in growth, making this the second consecutive year the school has done so, Bryant said.
According to Stroud, this accomplishment places the school among the highest-performing schools in the state.
Highland also received A's in all subects for growth.
"Both Tusculum View and EastView elementary schools continue their long history of educational excellence with straight A's in achievement and significant growth for all students," Stroud said.
"Greeneville Middle School also repeated high performance with straight A's in achievement and continued value-added growth, particularly in math."
MATH AND READING
Bryant said that reading continues to be a challenging subject to improve across the state as a result of the implementation of Common Core State Standards that do not match the testing points on the TCAP.
Next year's scores will improve as new testing better aligns with the standards, she said.
"We are working toward full implementation of Common Core standards, but we are still testing on Tennessee standards," she explained. "We're not teaching exactly what we're tested on."
She praised the new standards as a "whole picture" approach that will better improve students' skills and apply them within the context of the text.
Bryant said this kind of misalignment between TCAP standards and Common Core standards did not carry over into math, however.
"We have had a professional development focus on math for the past four years," she said.
"Our teachers have just worked really, really hard. We've really used data to help drive our instruction in all areas."
At the high-school level data, the district scored above state-predicted levels in Algebra I, Algebra II and U.S. History.
"Algebra I achievement scores were second highest in the state, and Algebra II scores were the 10th highest in the state," Bryant said.
There was no detectable difference between state-predicted levels and the system's actual scores in other content areas.
"GHS [Greeneville High School] continues to be an elite high school with the highest growth in student proficiency in Algebra I, and one of the highest graduation rates in Tennessee," Stroud said.
"The Greene Technology Center certainly contributes to the success of GHS students."
The graduation rate at GHS was 96.7 percent.
The system also scored above the predicted level in many areas of the ACT, including the composite of the four content areas, which includes English, math, reading and science.
The composite score for the system was 20.6 out of a maximum possible score of 36.
Bryant noted that the system tested 95 percent of high school juniors.
Math and reading were also above the predicted levels.
Greeneville scored an average of 20 in English; 20.6 in math; 20.9 in reading; and 20.4 in science.
New to the report card this year is information from the ACT that determines college readiness.
According to ACT, 21 percent of Greeneville's students are "college ready" in all four content areas of English, math, reading and science.
To be deemed college-ready, students' scores must meet a minimum benchmark that the ACT determines to be the level required for students to have a 50 percent chance of obtaining a B or higher, or a 75 percent chance of obtaining a C or higher in freshman-level college courses.
Bryant said the system has set next year's goal at 30 percent of students scoring at a "college-ready" level.
"Every school in our system has contributed to these unprecedented results," Stroud concluded.
"All educators in Greeneville City are doing an amazing job of cultivating the minds and impacting the hearts of our students."
Other data presented by the report card includes per-pupil expenditures.
In Greeneville, per-pupil expenditures are at $10,469 as compared to the state average of $9,293.
Local funding makes up 45 percent of that expenditure, while state funding is 46 percent and federal funding 9 percent.