Updated at 5:18 p.m. on Thursday, August 16, 2018.
Student growth in Hamilton County Schools has increased dramatically in the past year, according to TNReady and TVAAS scores released by the Tennessee Department of Education on Thursday.
Hamilton County Schools received an overall composite score of 3 out of 5, putting the district smack in the middle of the pack. That is a drastic improvement over last year's results, which earned Hamilton County Schools the lowest possible composite score on the annual state assessment.
Since the 2013-2014 school year, the district had not earned a score above a 2.
SCHOOL DISTRICT COMPOSITE SCORES
- Bradley County Schools: 4
- Bledsoe County Schools: 3
- Cleveland City Schools: 5
- Coffee County Schools: 5
- Franklin County Schools: 1
- Grundy County Schools: 2
- Hamilton County Schools: 4
- Marion County Schools: 1
- McMinn County Schools: 1
- Meigs County Schools: 2
- Polk County Schools: 2
- Rhea County Schools: 5
- Sequatchie County Schools: 5
- Knox County Schools: 5
- Metro Nashville Public Schools (Davidson County): 1
- Shelby County Schools: 2
"The results from TVAAS this year are very encouraging and indicate our schools are trending in the right direction," said Bryan Johnson, superintendent of Hamilton County Schools, in a statement. "Children exceeding a year's worth of academic growth in classrooms across the district is how Hamilton County Schools will become the fastest improving school district in the state of Tennessee."
The Tennessee Value-Added Assessment Scores measures student growth year over year by looking at student performance in five subject areas: literacy and numeracy (ranked individually and together), science and social studies.
Student growth in each subject for the 2017-2018 school year was scored from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest.
The district, like the state as a whole, made significant gains in reading, earning it a composite score of 5 for literacy. In social studies, the district earned a score of 3 and in science a score of 4.
Not all is well, though. For numeracy, the district earned a 1 — the lowest possible score. High school results also generally did not show students meeting growth expectations.
In July, the state Department of Education released district- and state-level scores.
Overall, elementary school students in Hamilton County's public schools saw slight improvements compared to last year, but like students statewide, Hamilton County's students in middle and high school fell further behind.
The test results show that 34.3 percent of third- through fifth-graders are reading on grade level, compared to 32 percent in 2017. Statewide, 35.7 percent of students were on track or scored at a mastered level in English Language Arts this year.
The test scores are a result of this spring's testing, which included a variety of mishaps, leaving many questioning if they are even accurate or what conclusions can be drawn from the data.
Even if the scores are accurate, they vary across the state.
Students in historically disadvantaged groups saw improvements, and gaps between student groups narrowed in multiple areas, according to state officials, however the data also shows overall decline in middle school performance.
In Hamilton County, TVAAS scores also vary widely. Of the district's 79 schools, only 25 earned a score of a 5. Twenty-six schools received a 1.
Though lawmakers determined in April that scores could not negatively impact students, teachers, schools or even districts, the scores do indicate achievement gaps and areas of concern.
School leaders are not worried though; Johnson said the district is preparing and planning for further growth.
"These results show student academic growth, but there is still work to be done to ensure we have prepared our children for success after graduation," Johnson said in a statement. "The Future Ready 2023 action plan will guide our path as teachers accelerate student growth towards higher levels of academic achievement."
The individual student and school TNReady and TVAAS scores, released Thursday, show that more than 40 percent of schools across the state, or about 700 schools, saw improvement across the majority of their grades and subjects in 2018, and 210 of those schools saw improvement across all grades and subjects, according to a news release.
"While we know we still have room to improve, we also want to celebrate the hundreds of schools in Tennessee that showed progress this past year," Education Commissioner Candice McQueen said in a statement. "Students and teachers are making encouraging strides on both TNReady and in their overall growth, and today's results point to bright spots across the state where students saw across-the-board success this past year on the state assessment. We want to learn from those places as we also continue to improve."
Notably, nearby Sequatchie County Schools was one of 11 school districts to earn a Level 5 in each TVAAS composite subject-area (literacy, numeracy, science, and social studies).
The other 10 school districts to perform similarly include: Bartlett City, Greene County, Greeneville City, Hamblen County, Jefferson County, Johnson City, Loudon County, Maryville City, Oneida Special School District and Roane County.