Elementary and middle school students in Hamilton County are underperforming compared to state averages while some gains have been made in high school classrooms, according to newly released TNReady results.
Data from the 2016-2017 school year show that, relative to numbers seen statewide, there are higher percentages of Hamilton County students in grades 3-8 testing below grade level in math, science and English language arts.
This year's results will serve as a new baseline for assessing future academic growth among elementary and middle school students and the numbers indicate local students are lagging behind their peers across the state.
While this is the second year that high schoolers have taken the test, the state canceled TNReady testing last school year for younger students because Measurement Inc., the vendor that developed it, failed to deliver testing materials in time. This year, Hamilton County didn't receive raw scores in time to include them in final report cards.
TNReady replaced the old TCAP test and has a greater focus on problem solving, critical thinking and writing skills. Families also receive redesigned score reports that state officials say will help pinpoint students' strengths and weaknesses.
For grades 3-8, performance on TNReady is categorized into four ranks: mastered grade level, on grade level, approaching grade level and below grade level. Students who score in the top two categories are considered to be meeting or exceeding expectations.
In math, 27.8 percent of Hamilton County elementary and middle school students scored below grade level compared to only 25.9 percent of Tennessee students overall. Another 33.8 percent of the district's students are approaching grade level compared to 36.1 percent for the state.
The story is similar for other subjects. Only 31.8 percent of Hamilton County students scored on track or better in English language arts, compared with 33.8 percent of students statewide. More than half of Hamilton County students are meeting expectations in science, but 20.3 percent of students tested below grade level — 2.5 percent more than the state number.