The 2012 Report Card should be a starting point for parents to become more involved in their children’s schools, according to Tennessee Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman.
The annual online report from the Tennessee Department of Education will be available as of 9 a.m. local time Thursday at www.tn.gov/education/reportcard/.
“To me, the most important thing about the Report Card is it’s a resource for parents,” Huffman said from Nashville Wednesday afternoon. “It’s data for parents — a platform to ask questions and get engaged at their school.”
He said achievement information indicates raw levels of knowledge and its application, while value-added measures improvement from year to year or the growth of individual students.
The Report Card includes data and information on public schools across Tennessee, much of it previously released on the district level. Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) achievement and value-added scores, end-of-course tests, ACT results, and the Reward and Focus schools were released earlier this year.
What’s new today includes school-level data on accountability, achievement and progress, as well as systemwide and school-level data on graduation rates, highly qualified teachers, and other demographic information.
Also available at the Report Card link is detailed information showing how and why individual schools were designated Focus schools, where subgroups such as minorities or special education students had lower gains than the general population, and Reward schools, which ranked in the top 5 percent of achievement, progress or both. Northeast Tennessee had no Priority schools, which ranked in the bottom 5 percent.
“We had most districts that had quite good gains,” Huffman said in a conference call from Nashville.
He said the overall growth in math and science is a particularly bright spot.
“That said, we know we have a long way to go” in closing achievement gaps among subgroups, Huffman said.
To help those Focus schools, some — including Sevier Middle and Lincoln Elementary in Kingsport — are receiving grants.
Huffman said if he were the parent of a child in a school with low performance and high growth, he would think it was going in the right direction. However, for a school with higher performance and low growth, students aren’t getting a year’s worth of expected growth in a year.
As an example of new information, graduation rates are available for individual schools, not just school districts.
“The graduation rate is based on a lot of work schools are putting in,” Huffman said, adding that credit recovery programs are helping students graduate in four years and a summer, which is considered on-time graduation.
As for ACT scores, he said a slight decrease in the past few years needs to be turned around but pointed out that since practically all Tennessee students take the ACT, it is fairer to compare the state’s ACT scores to past years in this state or only to states that require the ACT.