School districts across Tennessee making gains in student academic achievement

Department of Education officials highlight success in mathematics

Book and colored pencil on school table school tile education tile / Getty Images
Book and colored pencil on school table school tile education tile / Getty Images

Students in more than half of Tennessee's 144 school districts showed growth in academic achievement, according to 2018-19 TNReady test results and Tennessee Value-Added Assessment Scores released by the Tennessee Department of Education on Thursday.

TVAAS measures student growth year over year by looking at student performance in five subject areas: literacy, numeracy, literacy and numeracy, science and social studies.

Student growth in each subject for the 2018-2019 school year was scored from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest. Increased TVAAS scores indicate student growth, but high TVAAS scores don't necessarily correlate to student achievement.

About 56% of the state's school districts, including Hamilton County Schools, saw increased TVAAS scores this year, with 41% of all schools earning a level 4 or 5 rating.

Locally, six school districts earned a score of 4 or 5, indicating significant academic progress for students.

The Athens City, Dayton City, Hamilton County and Polk County school districts are all considered Level 5 this year. Cleveland City and Grundy County schools both earned an overall composite score of 4.


LOCALAthens City Schools: 5Bledsoe County Schools: 2Bradley County Schools: 1Cleveland City Schools: 4Coffee County Schools: 1Dayton City Schools: 5Franklin County Schools: 3Grundy County Schools: 4Hamilton County Schools: 5Marion County Schools: 1McMinn County Schools: 3Meigs County Schools: 1Polk County Schools: 5Rhea County Schools: 2Sequatchie County Schools: 3STATEWIDEKnox County Schools: 5Metro Nashville Public Schools (Davidson County): 3Shelby County Schools: 1

The Tennessee Department of Education on Thursday released TVAAS scores as well as TNReady data that breaks down student achievement across grades and content areas, as well as measures areas like graduation rates, chronic absenteeism and ACT composite scores.

The 2018-19 school year was the first year since 2016 that the state's TNReady testing season was not interrupted by multiple fiascoes, so many officials have eagerly awaited the results.

In a news release, Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said the department was pleased by the students' overall performance in math, despite years of focus on literacy.

"I'm impressed with the improvement we've seen in mathematics," Schwinn said. "The dedication of our educators, commitment to implementing high-quality materials, and unwavering student focus is what sets Tennessee apart and will continue to be the catalyst for moving our state forward."

Only 43.9% of third-grade students were performing on or above grade level in math during the 2018-19 school year. But with 46.3% of fifth-graders performing on or above grade level, department officials said that was the highest increase in mathematics across the board.

Statewide Algebra 1 scores, which are strong indicators of college readiness and have been a historic struggle for both the state and Hamilton County Schools, saw a 3% increase, according to the department. But still only 27.4% of students are testing on or above grade level in the subject.

In Tennessee's southeast region, the state is recognizing some of the accomplishments of Hamilton County Schools - which include improving overall math scores for students in grades 3-8 - alongside Grundy, McMinn and Polk county schools.

On Wednesday, Hamilton County Schools officials announced "historic" and "unprecedented" progress in student performance and growth.

The district scored a Level 5 across all TVAAS subject areas and overall, making it one of two of the largest school districts in the state to score a 5. Knox County Schools also received a composite score of a 5 this year, but Metro Nashville Public Schools scored a 3 and Shelby County Schools came in with the lowest score of 1. Last year, Hamilton County earned a 3.

"In order to move academic growth, you have to move achievement, and the reality is, we have moved achievement," Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Bryan Johnson said at a news conference Wednesday.

The district did not release actual achievement scores ahead of the state's release Thursday morning.

Contact staff writer Meghan Mangrum at or 423-757- 6592. Follow her on Twitter @memangrum.

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