Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced today the 2018 Reward and Priority schools, which are two key designations under Tennessee’s school accountability system. This was the first year Tennessee implemented its new school accountability model, which was developed with educators and stakeholders across the state and which looks at multiple measures of success.
Reward status is the top distinction a school can earn in Tennessee. Reward schools are those that are improving overall student academic achievement and student growth for all students and for student groups, and they are identified annually. In 2018, 318 schools in 85 school districts – about 20 percent of schools in the state – earned Reward status.
Priority schools are identified at least every three years, and they are the schools most in need of support and improvement. Priority schools fall into the bottom 5 percent of schools in the state test scores over the past three years and have low graduation rates. Following legislation passed this spring, 2017-18 TNReady data was not used to identify Priority schools. The 2018 Priority list includes 82 schools across eight districts, and these schools are now eligible for additional funding and will be supported by the department, in coordination with their districts, in developing a plan to improve.
“In this first year with our new system, it is incredibly encouraging to see more than 300 of our schools are earning Reward status for how they are supporting our students’ academic achievement and growth,” Commissioner McQueen said. “At the same time, we see a number of places where we need to improve. Our new school improvement model takes a student-focused, evidence-based approach to tailor interventions for our Priority schools, and we will be working closely with these schools and their districts over the coming year to improve academic outcomes and strengthen whole-child services that support student success.”
Tennessee’s new school accountability system was developed through a 16-month process of gathering feedback and hearing input from students, parents, teachers, administrators, and community members. Tennessee has designated Reward and Priority schools since 2012, but this was the first year with an updated methodology as required by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. As part of federal requirements, the plan was submitted to and approved by the U.S. Department of Education.
The new accountability framework is based on principles that all schools can be successful and all Tennessee students must be served well. It includes a variety of measures, including chronic absenteeism and discipline, ACT performance, and TNReady scores, to make a determination. All schools are rated both on how they serve the full student population and how they are specifically serving student groups that have historically been underserved: students with disabilities, English learners, economically disadvantaged students, and black, Hispanic, and Native American students. This fall, the department will publish more information about how all schools perform on these measures as part of a new school dashboard that will be posted online to offer additional information to parents, educators, elected officials, and community leaders.
As part of Tennessee’s new accountability plan, all Priority schools will move into an evidence-based school improvement model, ranging from district-led plans to intervention by the state’s Achievement School District. To better support Tennessee’s lowest performing schools, the state has invested $20 million into school improvement over the last two years. This funding is specifically devoted for Priority schools.
Here is the list of schools in each category:
DISTRICT DESIGNATED AS EXEMPLARY
Athens City School
Clinton City School
Loudon County Schools
Maryville City Schools
DISTRICTS DESIGNATED AS ADVANCING
Bradley County Schools
Cleveland Tennessee City Schools
Cumberland County Schools
Fentress County Schools
Lenoir City Schools
McMinn County Schools
Meigs County Schools
Oak Ridge city schools
Pickett County Schools
Rhea County Schools
Roane County Schools
Sweetwater City Schools
White County Schools
DISTRICTS DESIGNATED AS SATISFACTORY
Anderson County Schools
Bledsoe County Schools
Overton County Schools
DISTRICTS IN NEED OF IMPROVEMENT
Putnam County Schools
Morgan County Schools*
*Indicates those districts In Need of Improvement only due to their participation rate falling below 95% for all students or a student subgroup.
2018 REWARD SCHOOLS
Tennessee’s accountability system is built on the premise that all schools should be able to achieve Reward status, and there is no cap on the number of Reward schools. Reward schools are generally those that are improving in terms of achievement and growth for both all students and student groups. These schools are identified annually.
There are some exceptions:
- A school cannot be Reward if any student group performs in the bottom 5 percent in the state for that group
- A school cannot be Reward if also designated Priority or in need of Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) or Additional Targeted Support and Improvement (ATSI)
Here are the 2018 Reward Schools:
Bledsoe County – Cecil B. Rigsby Elementary
Bledsoe County – Pikeville Elementary
Bradley County – Oak Grove Elementary School
Bradley County – Walker Valley High School
Cumberland County – Brown Elementary School
Cumberland County – Martin Elementary School
Fentress County – South Fentress Elementary School
Loudon County – Ft. Loudoun Middle School
Loudon County – Highland Park Elementary School
Loudon County – North Middle School
Loudon County – Philadelphia Elementary School
Loudon County – Steekee Elementary School
McMinn County – Rogers Creek Elementary School
Overton County – Rickman Elementary School
Pickett County – Pickett County High School
Rhea County – Spring City Middle School
Roane County – Cherokee Middle School
Roane County – Midtown Elementary School
Roane County – Midway Middle School
2018 COMPREHENSIVE SUPPORT AND IMPROVEMENT SCHOOLS
Tennessee is required by federal law to include 2017-18 data in determining Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) schools, which is a new federal designation for schools most in need of improvement. 2018 CSI schools include all 2018 Priority schools, plus those schools that would fall into the bottom 5 percent of schools using 2017-18 data. Additionally, CSI schools include all schools in the Achievement School District, regardless of performance. Many Achievement School District schools otherwise do not fall into the bottom 5 percent.
There is significant overlap between the 2018 Priority and 2018 CSI lists. There are only five schools that are identified as a CSI school that are not a Priority or an ASD school. These schools are eligible for additional funding and will be supported by the department, similar to Priority schools. Here are the schools on this list:
Cumberland County – The Phoenix School
2018 ADDITIONAL TARGETED SUPPORT AND IMPROVEMENT SCHOOLS
Tennessee is required by federal law to include 2017-18 data in determining Additional Targeted Support and Improvement (ATSI) schools, which is a new federal designation for schools that need particular focus on their student group performance. 2018 ATSI schools are the schools with the lowest performance across student groups using 2017-18 data. These schools will be supported by the department and are eligible for additional funding.
There are two paths through which a school could be designated as ATSI:
- Overall school accountability score of 1.0 or less on the state’s new accountability framework AND ranks in bottom five percent for at least one accountability student group (i.e., black, Hispanic, and Native American students; economically disadvantaged students; English learners; and students with disabilities)
- Ranks in bottom 5 percent for two or more student groups
In the future, ATSI schools will be a portion of the state’s Focus schools, which are the schools that historically Tennessee has designated for need of improvement due to the performance of one or more student groups. Here are the schools on this list:
Bledsoe County – Bledsoe County Middle School
Clay County – Celina K-8
Cumberland County – Pleasant Hill Elementary School