This story was updated at 5:13 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018, with more information.
Tennessee’s new State Report Card intended to help families better understand school performance and support student success, state officials say.
Schools are rated on a 0 to 4 scale on up to six categories: academic achievement, student growth, chronically out of school,english language proficiency, ready graduate and graduation rate.
To view the new report card, visit: https://reportcard.tnk12.gov.
About 6,399 Hamilton County students — nearly 15 percent — missed at least 18 days of school in 2018, according to the new State Report Card released Tuesday.
At Sale Creek Middle/High School, 28 percent of students were considered chronically absent in 2018. At Signal Mountain Middle/High School, only 6.8 percent of students were chronically absent, but both schools saw an increase from 2017 to 2018.
Chronic absenteeism is among six indicators for which schools are rated on the new report card. The revamped version is intended to make it easier for parents and families to find key information about how well their child's school is doing, state officials say. The tool also provides information at the overall district level including rate of suspensions, average ACT scores, post-secondary enrollment and indicates whether the measure has increased or decreased since previous years.
Families or community members interested in the progress of specific groups of students — students of color, students who live in poverty and English language learners and others — will find key data highlighted, department officials say.
"We want families to have easy access to information about their school's performance and how it is meeting the needs of all students, and we want them to have that context on a variety of metrics that encompass success," said Education Commissioner Candice McQueen in a statement. "The report card provides parents and community members with an additional snapshot of information to understand how their school is performing, see successes, and know where to ask questions and get engaged."
The new report card rates every school in up to six categories:
* Academic achievement: whether students are performing on or above grade level
* Student growth: whether students are making progress from year to year, whether they are performing on grade level
* Chronically out of school: the number of students who miss at least 10 percent, or 18 days or more, of school if enrolled the full year
* English language proficiency: whether English language learner students are making progress
* Ready graduate: the percentage of students who earn at least a 21 on the ACT, demonstrating college and career readiness
* Graduation rate: percentage of students graduating from high school
Schools receive a 0 to 4 in each category, with 4 being the highest.
The scores are intended to mimic a GPA and replace an A-F grading system, which was originally established under Tennessee Succeeds — the state's plan for following the federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act.
"The state has invested significant energy into the redesigned state report card to allow the community to more easily view information about districts and schools across multiple indicators within our educational system," reads a statement by Shannon Moody, director of accountability and research for Hamilton County Schools. "The new format provides the added ability to drill into details that can make finding information quicker and easier."
For the chronically out of school category, Sale Creek Middle/High School received a 0.6 rating. Signal Mountain Middle/High received a 3.7. Overall, 42.8 percent of Hamilton County schools scored below a 2 for student attendance.
Performance in each category varies widely across the state and from school to school within the district.
But in terms of academic achievement, 36 Hamilton County Schools — or 46.7 percent — scored a 2 or higher. Across the state, 43 percent of schools earned higher than a 2.0 on academic achievement.
Hamilton County Schools outranked the state in growth — 55.8 percent of local schools earned a 2.0 or higher in student growth, whereas about 50 percent of schools statewide scored the same. In August, Hamilton County received a TVAAS (Tennessee Value-Added Assessment) score of a Level 3 for student growth, the highest score the district had received in years.
Hamilton County high schools also outranked the state based on graduation rates, with all 20 public and charter schools that graduate seniors receiving a 2 or higher for graduation rate and 68.4 percent ranking at a 2 or more for producing 'ready graduates,' or students scoring a 21 or above on the ACT.
English language learners' growth in Hamilton County lagged bend the state's though — with only 53.1 percent of schools receiving a 2.0 or higher compared to 59 percent across the state. Only 32 schools in Hamilton County received a rating for English language proficiency though because of the number of students learning English at individual schools.
"Results over the past year provide positive indicators that our students are experiencing academic growth, literacy progress is strong, and graduation rates are improving in Hamilton County Schools," reads a statement from schools Superintendent Bryan Johnson. "Future report cards will no doubt reflect the opportunities we are providing for our children today with the introduction of Future Ready Institutes, additional technology available to students, and a new focus on the continued improvement with our Future Ready 2023 five-year action plan."
This is the first year much of the new rating system has been rolled out with the state report card. The annual report also includes new information on specific student groups, and on information like discipline and attendance. This year a Spanish language version is also available.
In future years, the amount of funding spent per student at every school also will be included in the annual report. The state also plans to roll out the original A-F grading system proposed for the report card.
"When we began the vision for the overall report card, we had an overall summative grade," McQueen said. "In the spring, we were ultimately asked to pull back on a summative grading and not to do what we had envisioned as an A-F grading system."
But with continued TNReady testing problems and pushback from school districts, including the Hamilton County school board, the department ultimately reverted to a numerical grading system.
McQueen said the department does intend to carry out the vision of an A-F grading system in the future, which was originally signed into law by Gov. Bill Haslam in 2016.
Contact staff writer Meghan Mangrum at email@example.com or 423-757-6592. Follow her on Twitter @memangrum.