Cooper: Former iZone schools improve

Cooper: Former iZone schools improve

August 17th, 2018 by Clint Cooper in Opinion Free Press

Just as the Hamilton County Schools as a whole improved substantially in year over year academic growth, according to 2017-2018 TVAAS scores released Thursday by the Tennessee Department of Education, several of the district's original iZone schools also made strides.

The district received an overall composite score of 3, the first time since the 2013-2014 school year it has scored that high on the one-to-five scale. Beyond that, Dalewood Middle School, Orchard Knob Middle School and Woodmore Elementary School — three of the five schools in the bottom 5 percent of schools across the state, according to assessment tests — improved their composite scores over the 2016-2017 year.

Dalewood rocketed from a 1 to a 4, Orchard Knob Middle moved from a 1 to a 3, and Woodmore rose from a 1 to a 2. The other two schools on the list, Brainerd High School and Orchard Knob Elementary, did not share in the gains, scoring the same composite score of 1 they had last year.

Upon taking the superintendency of the Hamilton County Schools just over a year ago, Dr. Bryan Johnson said he wanted the district to be the fastest growing system in the state. The recently released scores are a good start.

The district made significant gains in reading, scoring a 5 in literacy (from a 1 in 2016-2017), perhaps pointing to the focused effort begun under former interim Superintendent Dr. Kirk Kelly and former Chief Schools Officer Jill Levine during the 2016-2017 year. Literacy didn't prove to be the former iZone schools' strong suit, though, as only one school improved its score (Orchard Knob Middle). Orchard Knob Elementary actually fell from a 4 to a 3, but that still shows continued improvement.

Three of the schools also showed increases in science, with Orchard Knob Middle going from a 1 to a 5, Dalewood going from a 2 to a 5, and Woodmore going from a 1 to a 2.

The schools, though, show a true need in numeracy, or math, improvement. Only two schools rose, with Dalewood going from a 1 to a 3 and Woodmore from a 1 to a 2. Brainerd, Orchard Knob Middle and Orchard Knob Elementary retained the same 1s they had in year-over-year growth from 2016-2017.

Overall in the district, 27 schools saw improved composite scores, 27 saw theirs stay the same, and 23 saw their scores fall.

We hope this is not only an upward trend for the state — 40 percent of schools saw improvement across the majority of their grades — but also the start of a climb for the district.

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