DeKalb West Named “Reward School” by State Department of Education

September 19, 2022
By: Dwayne Page

DeKalb West School has earned the distinction of being a “Reward School” for high levels of performance and or improvement under Tennessee’s school accountability system.

The Tennessee Department of Education last week announced the schools and district designations for 2021-22.

“The Reward school status for DeKalb West School is a credit to the students as well as the faculty and staff for the work they have done. They have met and gone above the standards the state has set forth. They have worked hard and done a really good job,” said Director of Schools Patrick Cripps.

Schools are recognized as a Reward school when they demonstrate high levels of performance and/or improvement by meeting their annual measurable objectives across performance indicators and student groups, and the Reward school distinction places significant emphasis on improvement from the prior school year. From the 2020-21 TCAP administration, a significant number of schools saw improvement and increased participation in this year’s assessments to qualify for the distinction.

Northside Elementary School was identified by the state department as a Focus or “Targeted Support and Improvement” School, a designation for schools with overall accountability scores in the bottom five percent statewide for the performance of a given student group.

“To make improvements at Northside Elementary and across the district, basically what we have to do, and we have already started this process, is look at our test data and the areas of concern and then put in place a plan to meet the needs,” said Director Cripps. “We all have to be on a consistent plan district-wide because needs will not just go away when students leave Northside and transfer over to the middle school and later the high school so we must have a universal plan in place,” Cripps continued.

“It is a constant adjustment. We use data from where kids test three times a year to see where they are progressing and where we need to give additional support. We have All Core tutoring that we will start in schools to give math and literacy support. We have a team in place as part of the (textbook selection) committee to choose the right instructional materials and they will be trained to make sure that the materials selected will meet our needs. Other professional development will also be part of the plan for our teachers so that we can better support our students to get them to the level where they need to be,” added Director Cripps.

The DeKalb County School District as a whole earned “Satisfactory” status. Districts designated as Satisfactory received an overall score equal to or greater than 1.1 but less than 2.1.

Each year, schools are eligible for four types of designation by the Tennessee Department of Education based on their overall performance across indicators that are considered essential to student success, including how the school prepared students to be proficient (Achievement), accelerated student learning (Growth), encouraged students to attend school regularly (Chronically out of School), prepared students for postsecondary success (Graduation Rate and Ready Graduate), and supported English learners acquiring language skills.

Based on their performance and or demonstration of improvement on the same set of school benchmarks, Districts can earn Exemplary, Advancing, Marginal, or In Need of Improvement designations by the state.

Director Cripps said he believes the state should take other test data into consideration before making school and district designations for the year and not just base them on one TCAP test taken by students on one day.

“It shouldn’t be on one test done over the course of a school year. If you are going to judge somebody (student) do it more than just one time because everybody has a bad day. We don’t know what goes on the night before (a test) in a kid’s life. If we could get some flexibility that would be great. I think it’s unfair to our teachers and our students to put them in a box based on one day of testing,” said Director Cripps.

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