6 Hamilton County schools honored for performance, growth

6 Hamilton County schools honored for performance, growth

August 28th, 2012 by Kevin Hardy in News

Chattanooga High School Center for Creative Arts students respond to the announcement that they have been recognized as a "reward school," Monday during a student body assembly. Gov. Bill Haslam spoke by livestream to all the Tennessee schools involved.

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.


Among state's top 5 percent in achievement

  • Big Ridge Elementary
  • Lookout Mountain Elementary

Among state's top 5 percent in growth

  • East Side Elementary
  • Harrison Elementary

Recognized in both categories

  • Chattanooga High School Center for Creative Arts
  • Thrasher Elementary School

Source: Tennessee Department of Education


Ten schools in Southeast Tennessee joined the list of 169 schools across the state recognized for academic performance and/or progress:

Bradley County

• Michigan Avenue Elementary (performance)

• North Lee Elementary (performance)

Franklin County

• Broadview Elementary (performance)

• North Lake Elementary (performance

• Moore Elementary (performance and progress)

McMinn County

• Niota Elementary (progress)

Meigs County

• Meigs Middle School (progress)

Polk County

• Copper Basin Elementary School (progress)

Rhea County

• Frazier Elementary (performance)

• Spring City Middle School (progress)

Source: Tennessee Department of Education


Here are the number of reward schools in other large school districts:

• Knox County: 10

• Memphis: 20

• Metro Nashville: 14

• Shelby County: 4

Source: Tennessee Department of Education

Six Hamilton County schools are among the best in the state for academic performance and growth on state exams, officials announced Monday.

And two schools -- Thrasher Elementary and Chattanooga High School Center for the Creative Arts -- are among a handful in the state to be recognized for overall performance and growth.

National, state and local officials honored 169 "reward schools", which include the top 5 percent in overall annual growth in test scores and the highest achieving 5 percent in Tennessee. The results are based on exams students took in the spring at the state's 1,736 public schools.

In Hamilton County, Big Ridge Elementary and Lookout Mountain Elementary were honored for their overall achievement, while East Side Elementary and Harrison Elementary were honored for growth.

Thrasher Principal Aimee Randolph said the designation is a nod to the everyday hard work done by teachers, who also are focused on learning and bettering their own skills.

"We are honored, and it validates the direction in which we're headed, which is to prepare students to be our future leaders," she said. "We focus on learning from 8:10 until the end of the day. We have the arms of our parents and communities around us, and we just focus on learning."

The reward schools are a new classification under Tennessee's accountability system, which this year replaces No Child Left Behind. Under Tennessee's waiver from NCLB, a $2 million pot of money will be made available to reward schools each year.

The state previously announced six priority schools -- the state's lowest performing 5 percent -- and four focus schools -- the 10 percent with the largest achievement gaps between groups of students.

On Monday, Gov. Bill Haslam and state Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman's announcement of the reward schools was streamed live from Brentwood, Tenn., to schools across the state, including a packed auditorium at CCA in Chattanooga.

"We spend a lot of time sometimes talking about things that aren't going right. But we want to make certain when things are going well and schools are doing a great job, and teachers are doing a great job and students are working hard, that we do a great job to celebrate that," Haslam said.

The education commissioner said his department wants to hold up the reward schools as models for other schools across the state.

"You all are leading the way," he told the reward schools. "Our job as a state is to watch what you all are doing, figure out why you're doing it so well, and figure out how to help other people do it."

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan appeared over the web from another location, saying the designation as a reward school is a testament to the hard work of students, teachers and administrators.

"To be the highest-performing schools in the state, to be the fastest-improving schools in the state, I know how tough that work is. It's a tremendous labor of love," he said.

Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Rick Smith recognized school leaders for facilitating achievement in their buildings.

"You do not achieve excellence without great leadership. And I do believe good leadership attracts the best to the classroom," he said.

Emily Baker, who retired this summer after 15 years as principal at East Side Elementary, said her school's teachers made the difference in student outcomes.

"All the credit, the commitment and this recognition is for the teachers and these kids," she said. "The celebration is about teacher work."

She said teachers constantly monitored student's progress and individualized instruction for each child.

"We know where they begin and we know where we want them to be," she said.

The superintendent said CCA's high achievement also put it among the state's top 10 schools.

CCA Principal Debbie Smith said her magnet school's honor was validation of the strong role the arts play in academics.

"The arts do support it. The passion for the arts does carry over into academics," she said.