Six Hamblen County elementary schools were recognized this year with Reward School status as the state released its TNReady results for the 2018-19 school year.
Last year, the Hamblen County school district had five schools earn Reward School status and two years ago the school district had one, so there are improvements being made, school officials said. .
“We’re very proud of that,” said Stephanie Dallman, supervisor of assessments and ESL for Hamblen County schools.
The Hamblen County schools recognized are:
• Fairview Marguerite
• John Hay Elementary
• Lincoln Heights Elementary
• Manley Elementary
• Russellville Elementary
• West Elementary
Out of these schools, John Hay Elementary school was a repeat Rewards School from last year. Hamblen County school officials said there were three schools within a tenth of a point from being recognized as a Reward School as well.
Buddy Smith, assistant director of Hamblen County schools, said a lot of the success in the past few years within the Hamblen County school system has to do with a mindset of focusing on learning instead of teaching.
He said teachers and administrators have bought into the concept.
“It’s a culture change,” he said. “It’s a culture change of results... It’s focused on learning.”
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 both all students and for student groups, and they are identified annually.
Statewide, officials said, students showed improvements in math.
Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said the TNReady scores also show that more than half the schools in Tennessee – 56 percent – improved growth scores (TVAAS scores) from the previous year, with 41 percent of all schools earning a level 4 or 5 TVAAS rating which measures year-to-year growth.
“I’m impressed with the improvement we’ve seen in mathematics”, Commissioner Schwinn said, while adding, “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.”
There have been some criteria changes with how Reward Schools are calculated, school officials said.
Last year, there were two subcategories of Reward Schools that included schools that improved in growth on one end and top achievement in the other.
This year, both categories were instituted into the Reward Schools achievement, Dallman said.
One Hamblen County school, Meadowview Middle School, was included in the “Targeted Support and Improvement” schools category. School officials said this is when a school fails in one or more subcategories and need more attention.
In the case of Meadowview, Hamblen school officials said there were failings within the “white students” subcategory.
Smith said they are addressing the issues at the school.
“We have a plan,” he said. “And the school will have a plan... Our goal is we’ll be off that list next year.”