State Releases Report Card on DeKalb County Schools

January 9, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Mark Willoughby

The 2010 Report Card on the DeKalb County School System from the Tennessee Department of Education reveals that three of the five schools are in "Good Standing" for No Child Left Behind AYP (Average Yearly Progress) status but Northside Elementary and Smithville Elementary are listed as " School Improvement 1" schools because the sub-group of Hispanic students failed to meet the necessary AYP benchmark for the year in the subjects of reading and language arts.

Schools and districts must meet performance standards in 37 categories at each grade span to be deemed in "good standing" under federally mandated No Child Left Behind.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby said efforts are being made to address the issue. "Last year Northside Elementary was a "Target" school along with Smithville Elementary, which was only listed as a "Target" school because it's a feeder school to Northside Elementary. We were targeted last year because a sub-group of students with disabilities failed to meet the AYP benchmark in the reading and language arts category. But this past year, those students did make the average yearly progress that they needed to but during testing in the spring, we had another sub-group that did not make the average yearly progress that we would have hoped. But we did not have the data concerning that. With the TCAP tests, if you do not have at least 45 students in a sub-group, the information is not made available (from the state). The sub-group where we need to make improvement this coming year is the sub-group of Hispanic students in reading and language arts. So that's an area where we will be concentrating on at Smithville Elementary and Northside. Our whole goal with No Child Left Behind is to see that all students succeed and are very successful."

While Director Willoughby acknowledges that system-wide there are "opportunities for academic improvement" in some areas, overall he is pleased with the report card and the work teachers and students are accomplishing in the classrooms.

The report reveals that system-wide, DeKalb County schools, for the year, met or exceeded state grade averages in Academic Achievement in the subjects of math, reading/language, social students, and science in grades 3-8 as well as the fifth, eighth, and eleventh grade writing assessments.

Elementary students from grades 3-8 take the TCAP (Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program) exam, and high school students take the End of Course exam. But Director Willoughby pointed out that the state's standards and assessments have become more challenging and that fair comparisons with last year's DeKalb County report card cannot be made because of it. " In the past ten years, you could compare scores/grades from the year before because everything was a three year average, but 2010 scores do not compare at all with 2009 scores and these 2010 scores cannot be compared to the previous years scores. Basically, everything about the test has become more difficult, much more rigorous. For example, what students were taught in the seventh grade two or three years ago, now students are being required to learn that information in the fifth grade. Our teachers are also being trained even more on strategies for teaching these new standards. But I'm pleased with the academic achievement that has been made during this year. As far as Value Added and average yearly progress, we know we've got some areas that we need to improve on, such as math. Those are some of the things that we're looking at right now and we're still working on strategies to meet the needs where we need improvement."

Willoughby adds that "looking at the standards and how they have changed, yes it's tough knowing that we have students that may be having to learn things that were once taught to students two or three grades ahead of them but when we look back on this, we'll be very happy that this has come about because our children will be achieving more. I believe it's good for the state and the nation. We have an outstanding group of educators in DeKalb County as well as an outstanding group of students. No Child Left Behind is good for kids and we're in the business of doing what's good for children."

At the high school, the graduation rate was at 91.2%, above the state goal of 90%, but ACT scores are down. However, Director Willoughby said that's probably because all eleventh graders are now required to take the ACT, instead of just college bound students. "Our ACT scores did go down some but all eleventh graders have to take the ACT tests now, whereas in the past all eleventh grade students did not take the ACT tests. A few years ago, if you were going to college, you would take the ACT tests, so you would think those students would score higher and we were pleased to see our ACT scores go up. Last year's test scores went down, but I attribute some of that to the fact that it was all eleventh graders taking the ACT scores whether they intended to obtain more education after they left high school or not. Many of them are going to college and we want all of our students to be career or college ready. But it's going to look a whole lot different if you have twenty five percent of your students wanting to go to college taking the ACT versus 100% of students having to take the ACT."

The following is a summary of the DeKalb County School System Report Card for 2010 from the Tennessee Department of Education:

K-8 Non-Academic Indicators:
The school system average attendance for K-8 for 2010 was 94.1% and above the state goal

The promotion rate for 2010 was 99.3% and above the state goal

9-12th grade Non-Academic Indicators:
The attendance rate for grades 9-12 was 94.5% in 2010 better than the state's attendance goal.

The graduation rate for DeKalb County High School was 91.2% in 2010 and above the state graduation goal of 90%.

The 2010 event dropout rate is 1.1%.

2010 Academic Achievement Grades for grades 3-8 are as follows:
Math-B (score 50); (state-C score 49)
Reading/Language-B (score 50); (state-C score 49)
Social Studies-B (score 52); (state-B score 51)
Science-B (score 54); (state-C score 49)

Achievement scores show how well students performed on their standardized achievement tests.

2010 Value Added Academic Growth Grades for K-8 are as follows:
Math-D
Reading/Language-C
Social Studies-C
Science-C

Value Added scores in the elementary grades are designed to show whether teachers were effective in helping students learn. Children are tracked from year to year to determine whether they have learned a full year's worth of material since the last test.

For 2010, DeKalb County earned an "A" in 5th and 8th grade writing with scores of 4.3 in 5th grade writing and 4.5 in 8th grade writing. The eleventh grade writing score was "A" in 2010 (4.1 score)..

DeKalb County High School three year average ACT scores from 2008 to 2010 fell slightly below the state three year averages.

The ACT results in grades 9-12 for 2010 (individual year) show that the composite score was 18.5; 17.8 in English; 17.6 in Math; 19.3 in Reading; and 18.7 in Science/Reasoning. The 2010 state averages (individual year) are 19.6 composite, 19.4 in English, 19.0 in Math, 19.9 in Reading, and 19.6 in Science/Reasoning.

The state set a predicted score of the high school Gateway and End of Course test which compare the school progress with the progress of students across the state.

Math Algebra I: NDD (Not detectably different)
Science Biology: Above Average
English II: NDD
English I: NDD
US History: NDD

60% of all DeKalb County High School students in Math and 71% in Reading/Language Plus Writing scored proficient and advanced. Better than the state established target of 25% in math and 49% in reading/language plus writing. (AYP calculations include only continuously enrolled first time test takers)

The following are the results from each elementary school included in the report card:

DeKalb West:
2010 Grades K-8 Non-Academic Indicators
Attendance Rate- 94% (State Goal 93%)
Promotion Rate- 100%

Academic Achievement Grades:
DeKalb West: Math- A (Score 56), State (Score 49)- C
Reading/Language-A (Score 55), State (Score 49)-C
Social Studies-A (Score 58), State (Score 51)-B
Science-A (Score 56), State (Score 49)-C

Academic Growth (Value Added)
DeKalb West:
Math-D
Reading/Language-A
Social Studies-B
Science-C

Writing 5th Grade-A (score 4.4): (state score 4.1)
Writing 8th Grade-A (score 4.4): (state score 4.2)
47% of all DeKalb West School students in Math and 63% in Reading/Language Plus Writing scored proficient and advanced. Better than the state established target of 20% in math and 32% in reading/language plus writing.(AYP calculations include only continuously enrolled first time test takers)

Northside Elementary:
2010 Grades K-8 Non-Academic Indicators
Attendance Rate- 94.5% (State Goal 93%)
Promotion Rate- 100%

Academic Achievement Grades:
Northside Elementary:
Math- C (Score 48), State (Score 49)- C
Reading/Language-C (Score 48), State (Score 49)-C
Social Studies-B (Score 51), State (Score 51)-B
Science-B (Score 51), State (Score 49)-C

Academic Growth (Value Added)
Northside Elementary:
Math-D
Reading/Language-A
Social Studies-A
Science-B
Writing 5th Grade-A (score 4.3);(state score 4.1)
34% of all Northside Elementary students in Math and 50% in Reading/Language Plus Writing scored proficient and advanced. Better than the state established target of 20% in math and 32% in reading/language plus writing.(AYP calculations include only continuously enrolled first time test takers)

DeKalb Middle:
2010 Grades K-8 Non-Academic Indicators
Attendance Rate- 94% (State Goal 93%)
Promotion Rate- 100%

Academic Achievement Grades:
DeKalb Middle:
Math- C (Score 49), State (Score 49)- C
Reading/Language-C (Score 49), State (Score 49)-C
Social Studies-C (Score 49), State (Score 51)-B
Science-A (Score 55), State (Score 49)-C

Academic Growth (Value Added)
DeKalb Middle:
Math-D
Reading/Language-D
Social Studies-D
Science-D
Writing 8th Grade-A (score 4.5): (state score 4.2)
25% of all DeKalb Middle School students in Math and 51% in Reading/Language Plus Writing scored proficient and advanced. Better than the state established target of 20% in math and 32% in reading/language plus writing.(AYP calculations include only continuously enrolled first time test takers)

Smithville Elementary:
Grades K-8 Non Academic Indicators
Attendance Rate 93%
Promotion Rate 97.1%

The Tennessee Education Improvement Act of 1992 established accountability standards for all public schools in the state and required the Department of Education to produce a Report Card for the public to assess each year.

Tennessee state law has since been amended to match regulations in No Child Left Behind (NCLB) for meeting required federal benchmarks for all schools, school systems, and the state. Additionally, the State Board of Education has revised its performance standards and requirements to meet performance criteria in the new federal law.

The goal of NCLB is to ensure that all students in all schools are academically proficient in math, reading and language arts by 2014. Until that time, schools, school systems and the state will be measured on their ability to move toward that goal. In other words, schools, school systems, and the state must show that a greater percentage of its students are meeting required proficiency standards.

Schools, school systems and the state must meet proficiency benchmarks in nine subgroups, including five race/ethnicity groups; students with disabilities; limited English proficient students; economically disadvantaged students; and the school as a whole.

The Report Card is organized in the following sections: System/School Profile, NCLB (AYP), Achievement, Value Added (TVAAS data), Attendance and Graduation, Discipline, Teacher Quality, Special Education, and Career and Technical Education. Data required by No Child Left Behind are defined in drop-down boxes containing explanations for each criterion. Grades are assigned to appropriate criteria, and a grade scale is available for explanation of specific scaling.

Schools and school systems that do not meet required federal benchmarks for one year are assigned the status of "Target." Schools and school systems that do not meet the federal benchmark for two or more consecutive years in the same category are assigned the status of "High Priority."

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