The 2009-2010 school year introduced a world of change in how Tennessee gauges the performance of our school systems, educators, and students. As a result of these changes, there will be numerous headlines in newspapers over the next several days that will indicate that our schools are failing our students. However, a quick glance at the facts paints a much different, more optimistic picture.
Prior to the changes, Tennessee faced two problems: the content of our statewide tests and the expectations of our students. Tennessee students were graduating from high school and entering college, career training, or the workforce. However, many of our graduates were not prepared for any of these difficult endeavors. After consultation with professors, industry leaders, and technical professionals, Tennessee realized that regardless of a student's post-graduation plans, the same skills were needed in order to be competitive in today's world. As a result, this year Tennessee increased the rigor of its curricula and assessments. All of the students in Tennessee will now earn a high school diploma that reflects both their hard work as well as their readiness to enter the world.
In addition to the content, Tennessee had to address expectations. In 2009, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce issued a report which examined the assessments and performance of each state's public educational system. This report was very revealing as to Tennessee's inadequacies. Our great state was annually reporting a proficiency rate of 80% - 90% for 3rd - 8th graders in reading/language arts and math. When this report looked at the performance of our students on a national standard, though, only 20% - 30% of students were "proficient." This discrepancy had to be addressed.
Prior to this year, Tennessee defined a proficient student as one who was minimally prepared for the next level of study. With the changes, a proficient student is now one who demonstrates mastery in academic performance, thinking abilities, and application of understandings that reflect the knowledge and skills specified by the grade/course level content standards. This new definition is a drastic change in the expectations of students and recognition that students were receiving false senses of accomplishment with the tag "proficient."
With the new, more rigorous assessments and with the mark of proficiency moving from minimal to mastery, we are going to initially see lower results than in years past. However, our students are improving and performing, and as parents, educators, and communities, we must be steadfast and supportive. We must insist that the new standards remain while ensuring the resources needed are available. No one is denying that we are expecting much more from everyone involved. These increased expectations, though, will lead to economic development and jobs for our communities and an overall better quality of life for our students.
Imagine there was an archer who routinely hit the bull's eye, and everyone around him was proud. One day, the archer was told to take 10 steps back and aim at a much smaller target. Everyone questioned the changes and the archer had difficulty with the transition. Ultimately, though, with the diligent efforts of the archer and those around him, he greatly improved his skill and once again hit that bull's eye.
Our target in Tennessee has definitely moved, but our archers will once again hit that bull's eye.
A 24 year old man, who allegedly used somebody else's 2006 Mastercraft X45 ski boat several times over the summer without the owner's permission to entertain friends on the lake, was sentenced Monday in DeKalb County Criminal Court.
Judge Leon Burns, Jr. presided.
Zachary Ross Hendrixson received a ten year suspended sentence after entering a guilty plea under a negotiated settlement to charges of vandalism over $10,000 and burglary of a boat. Under terms of the sentence, Hendrixson received six years for the vandalism and four years on the burglary charge, all suspended. The sentences are to run consecutively for a total of ten years. Hendrixson was given jail credit of 150 days. He must also make restitution of $1,000 to a victim in the case.
Hendrixson was indicted by the DeKalb County Grand Jury on Monday, November 29th for vandalism over $10,000 and joyriding. He was also indicted in a separate case, charging him with burglary and theft over $1,000.
Sheriff Patrick Ray said Hendrixson was arrested on Monday, July 19th after the owner of the boat took warrants against him. The boat, which was docked at the time at Hurricane Marina, apparently received some damage to the interior and exterior while Hendrixson was using it. The boat is valued at approximately $100,000.
According to Sheriff Ray, Hendrixson took the boat out on the lake several times. " He has been going down there since Memorial Day, taking people out on that boat, falsely claiming it belonged to his family. He even published pictures of the outings on his Face Book account."
When the owner discovered that Hendrixson had been using the boat, he had him charged in the case.
After a further investigation, Sheriff Ray said Hendrixson was also charged with theft of property over $1,000 for allegedly taking items off another boat."We started an investigation and found that he had stolen a surf board, a wake board, and life jackets from a boat at Cove Hollow Marina, valued at $1,180."
Meanwhile in other cases, 32 year old James Summers pleaded guilty to promotion of the manufacture of methamphetamine and sale of a schedule III controlled substance. He received a two year sentence to serve in each case and was fined $2,000. The sentences are to run consecutively with each other for a total of four years and concurrently with a violation of probation he is now serving. Summers was given jail credit from April 7th to December 20th.
42 year old William A. Cantrell pleaded guilty to a third offense of driving on a revoked license. He received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days to serve. He was also fined $50. The sentence is to run concurrently with two other cases against him.
25 year old Michael Snyders pleaded guilty to sale of a schedule II controlled substance and received a three year sentence, all suspended to supervised probation. He was given credit for sixty days of time served. Snyders was fined $2,000.
27 year old Christopher Pinegar pleaded guilty to theft over $10,000, burglary, and vandalism over $1,000. He received a total sentence of four years including three years in the theft case and two years for burglary and two years for vandalism, all suspended to supervised probation, except for 193 days to serve. He was given jail credit for 193 days. The burglary and vandalism cases are to run consecutively for a total of four years and concurrently with the theft sentence. Pinegar must make restitution of $8,000 in the vandalism case.
26 year old Sabrina Leighann Branham pleaded guilty to a first offense of driving under the influence and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days on probation, except for 48 hours to serve. She was fined $360 and her license will be revoked for one year.
21 year old Cody Murphy pleaded guilty to theft under $500 and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days on probation. He must make a $75 contribution to the economic crime fund.
30 year old Felicia Murphy pleaded guilty to a first offense of driving under the influence and possession of drug paraphernalia. She received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days on probation in each case to run concurrently with each other and a violation of probation against her. Murphy was fined $360 and she must undergo an alcohol and drug assessment. She will also lose her license for one year.
22 year old Timothy W. Patrick pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and three counts of sale of a schedule II controlled substance. He received a three year sentence in each of the drug cases to run consecutively with each other for a total of nine years. Patrick also received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days probation in the DUI case to run concurrently with the nine year term. Patrick will be on probation by community corrections. In the DUI sentence, Patrick must attend school, pay a fine of $360 and his license will be revoked for one year. He also pleaded guilty in a worthless check case, which will be dismissed upon his making restitution.