BY LAUREN HENRY
The Greeneville Board of Education met for their annual retreat Sunday evening and Monday morning.
Highland Elementary School will no longer operate on a year-round calendar, pending a meeting tonight with Highland parents and a vote at the city school board meeting on Thursday evening.
A data achievement report was given by Suzanne Bryant, assistant director for instruction, and Brandy Shelton, system data specialist.
The full report is scheduled to be released Nov. 1 but is embargoed by the state until then.
Director of Schools Dr. Linda Stroud said school officials wished they were able to share the full report with the board but, unfortunately, the state embargo release date is a little over a week away.
The state is setting new achievement levels based on improving upon past numbers from each school rather than just in comparison with state averages.
Greeneville city schools have been consistently higher than state averages, but the challenge will be maintaining the new percentage achievement targets while simultaneously closing the gap between low-performing subgroups and the rest of the student population, said Bryant and Shelton.
This means those students will have to improve at a faster rate than the rest of the students.
Achievement is measured based on the percentage of students that perform at "Proficient" or "Advanced" levels. Since 2010, achievement assessments for all the city schools have increased more often than they have dropped or remained the same.
Achievement assessment was measured in grades 3-8 reading and math, grade 3 reading and math, grade 7 reading and math, and grades 9-12 Algebra I and English II.
Bryant and Shelton attribute the success that has been achieved to teacher dedication and collaboration, new educational materials and intensive training, job-embedded professional development with specialists, prescriptive tutoring, and deepening understanding and use of data by working with a data specialist.
ACT scores for the Greeneville schools were higher than the state average, but have dropped slightly from last year.
However, Dr. Stroud said that a near 100 percent testing percentage in the school system makes the 21.4 average ACT score very commendable.
There were 202 students tested in 2012 while only 157 were tested in 2011. The difference in score averages was a drop of 1.5 points.
Advanced Placement (AP) scores were also presented. They showed an average score of three, which is high enough to possibly get college credit at some universities.
This year, 102 students took AP tests, which is up from 69 in 2010 and 94 in 2011.
There are currently nine AP courses offered. Stroud announced the implementation next year of the first freshman-level AP course, Human Geography.
An enrollment zoning issues study was presented by Ken Fay, federal programs specialist.
Fay said he was not requesting immediate action but wanted to bring it to the board's attention that the board should look into rezoning in the near future.
One area of concern is the size of the Tusculum View district.
It is the largest of the elementary schools and includes the largest percentage of in-zone students.
The construction of a new subdivision in the district means 40 additional homes and the potential of more students zoned for Tusculum View, according to Fay.
Of all of the elementary schools, the board said that Highland Elementary has the most room when compared with state class-size limits.
The most students Highland could accept is 40, if the demographics of students all happened to fill vacancies within correct grade levels -- "Which never works if you're a principal. That's like Murphy's law," Fay said.
If zoning is changed, Fay said the school system would "grandfather in" students who are already attending a school even if they live outside the borders of the new district.
"So it would be a gradual change," Fay said.
He said bus routes would need to be reconsidered as well as policies regarding out-of-district and out-of-zone students.
The board requested that school officials collect data on reasons why parents choose to send students out of district.
Board Chairman Craig Ogle asked when the zones were most recently considered.
The answer was in 1964 when Tusculum View Elementary was built.
"I think it is appropriate that we begin discussions looking at this," Ogle said.
"It will certainly change in 50 years," board member Mark Patterson agreed.
The board also heard slight adjustments to this year's Greeneville City School Action Plan.