• Shelby County Schools one of 7 districts 'in need of improvement,' TNReady report cards suggest

    By: Kody Leibowitz

    Updated:

    TENNESSEE - The Tennessee Department of Education released students' performances for TNReady in 2019.

    Overall, students across the state are performing better in almost all math subjects, according to the TDOE report.

    >>FOX13 Investigates: 'Gifted gap' between ethnicities at Mid-South elementary schools

    SCS is one of only seven districts with that designation, performing in the bottom five percent of district in Tennessee. 

    There’s a wide success gap for Shelby County kids versus the rest of the state, according to an analysis of the state’s report card data. 

    In 2017, about 90 percent of students graduated on time in Tennessee. That same year, SCS graduated about 80 percent of its kids on time. 

    The state’s Department of Education classifies graduating on time as “graduating within four years and a summer.”

    Just under 40 percent of Tennessee students are considered to be on grade level compared to less than a quarter of kids at SCS.

    The state considers a student to be on grade level if that student “scores on track or mastered on state exams.”

    According to the state, more than a third of Tennessee students are ready to graduate, meaning those students spent four years in high school and got a score of 21 or higher on the ACT exam.

    SCS students? Cut that number in half to 17 percent. 

    But not all news was bad news for the school district. 

    The state gave praise to SCS in its news release on Thursday, highlighting that it improved its math scores for grades 3 to 8. 

    SCS, in a press release, noted its English Learner Proficiency is now considered “advancing”, which is considered the second highest category in the state. 

    The Mid-South school district also decreased its number of schools on the state’s priority list: it’s down to 14 total schools now. 

    FOX13 Investigates asked to interview superintendent Dr. Joris Ray on camera on Thursday. 

    SCS declined an interview; however, in an email, the district’s media relations team pointed to some initiatives from the superintendent, including his Seven Next Steps Toward Destination 2025, 3rd Grade Commitment and African-American Male Empowerment.

    Achievement gap

    Inside the belly of SCS’ report card is the academic achievement: specific subjects the state tests on. 

    How students performed on these tests varies. 

    In math, English Language Arts and science, no more than 40 percent of SCS students are on grade level in any one of those subjects. 

    But there’s a noticeable achievement gap between how African American students and white students are performing on tests. 

    In math, less than 50 percent of white students are on grade level; 15 percent of African American students are on grade level, according to the state’s report card data.

    In English Language Arts, 52 percent of white students scored on grade level; it was less than a fifth for African American students. 

    In science testing, two-thirds of white students are considered on grade level, while one-third of African American students are on grade level.

    Students from 5th grade saw the largest grade-level improvement within the math departments from 2018 with 5.6%. 

    The study also shows schools are better preparing their students for college-level math courses. Algebra l scores showed a three percent increase since last year, TDOE said.

    English Language Arts (ELA) studies had a large jump in improvement from 9th and 10th graders with an average increase of about 7.5 percent.

    Here’s how each region improved, according to the Tennessee Department of Education:

    Northwest

    • Five school districts improved 3rd grade ELA scores by ten percent statewide, including Milan, Paris, Weakley, Henry and Dyersburg City Schools, while Bradford Special School District improved 3rd grade ELA scores by 25.4 percent
    • Three districts showed improved math scores for students in grades 3-8, including Crockett Co., Henry Co., and Paris SSD
    • Two districts, Dyer Co. and Gibson Co., improved end of course exam scores in Math and ELA by at least 5-percentage points

     

    Southwest

    • Five districts are among the top ten in performance statewide in 3rd grade ELA, including Arlington, Germantown, Collierville, Lakeland and Bartlett
    • Seven districts improved math scores for students in grades 3-8, including Chester Co., Fayette Co., Hardin Co., Madison Co., Shelby Co., Bartlett and Tipton Co.
    • Decatur Co. is the most improved district in the state on Geometry- a 23.3 percent increase over 2018  

     

    Mid Cumberland

    • Five districts improved math scores for students in grades 3-8, including Metro Nashville, Montgomery Co., Robertson Co., Williamson Co. and Franklin SSD

    • Murfreesboro City Schools all students in grades 3-6 improved their math score
    • Wilson Co. improved ELA, English l and English II for all students in grades 5-8

     

    South Central

    • Four counties had the most improvement in ELA in specific grades: Perry Co. had a 20 percent increase in 4th grade ELA; Wayne Co. had a 14 percent increase in 6th grade ELA; and Moore Co. is the most improved district in the state in 8th grade ELA- 12.9 percent increase over 2018
    • Lewis Co. is the most improved district in the state in 7th grade math- 28 percent increase over 2018
    • Fayetteville City is the most improved district in the state in 8th grade math- 34.3 percent increase over 2018

     

    Upper Cumberland

    • Four schools saw students in grades 3-8 improve math scores, including Bledsoe Co., Putnam Co., Trousdale Co. and Van Buren Co.
    • Macon Co. is the most improved district in the state in Algebra II- 15.4 percent increase over 2018
    • Clay Co. is the most improved district in the state in English II- 25 percent increase over 2018

     

    Southeast

    • Four districts saw students in grades 3-8 improve math scores, including Grundy Co., Hamilton Co., McMinnCo., and Polk Co.
    • Hamilton Co. improved in math, ELA, and end of course exams by at least 5 percent
    • Etowah City is the most improved district in the state in 3rd grade math, 5th grade ELA, and 6th grade math.  That’s a 34.8 percent, 23.4 percent and 28 percent gain respectively in each subject 

     

    East 

    • Oneida City improved 3rd grade ELA scores by more than 21 percent

    • Maryville City was the only district in the state to increase ELA scores for all students in grades 3-8
    • Six districts saw math scores increase for students in grades 3-8, including Anderson Co., Oak Ridge, Campbell Co., Roane Co., Scott Co. and Sevier Co.

     

    First

    • Rogersville City improved 3rd grade ELA by 17 percent over 2018

    • Three districts saw math scores increase for students in grades 3-8, including Carter Co., Hamblen Co., and Johnson Co.
    • Johnson City was among the top 10 performing districts in all end of course exams for Math and English

     

    Report cards across the Mid-South

    Other Mid-South school districts made their marks on their report cards. 

    Alamo, Bells, Lakeland and Tipton County school districts are all considered exemplary, which is the top rating in Tennessee. 

    Arlington, Barlett, Collierville, Germantown, Millington, Crockett County, Dyer County, Dyersburg, Fayette County Public Schools, Lauderdale County and McNairy County school districts were all placed in the next category, advancing school district. 

    Hardeman County and Haywood County school districts were considered satisfactory by the state.

    Only Shelby County Schools was considered in needs of improvement, the lowest level for the state’s report card.

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