Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently announced 170 schools as the 2014-15 Reward Schools, the top 5 percent of schools in the state for academic achievement and the top 5 percent for annual growth.
Livesay Middle School in Harrogate was named a Reward School for academic achievement.
The Reward Schools span 59 districts across Tennessee and include 93 schools that serve mostly economically disadvantaged populations.
“We are honored to recognize these Reward Schools for leading the state in progress and performance,” Haslam said at an event held at W. A. Wright Elementary in Wilson County, a school recognized for both its high overall achievement and strong growth. “Tennessee teachers and students are working harder than ever, and it’s paying off. Students are learning in new and challenging ways, and teachers are pouring their hearts into their work and helping students make incredible gains.”
Livesay principal Karyn Clark was excited at the news.
“I cannot begin to tell you the pride that I feel for the people that truly earned this award. It is a team effort from every single employee at Livesay, professionals and paraprofessionals, from our amazing students and from our parents who support us and their children,” she said. “We are definitely blessed!”
This year’s list recognizes 76 schools for overall academic achievement and 85 schools for annual value-added growth. The list names nine schools that earned both designations, rising to the top 5 percent for annual value-added growth while also ranking in the state’s top 5 percent for overall achievement.
Connie Holdway, director of Claiborne County Schools, was elated as well.
“Reward Schools are the top 5 percent of schools in the state for performance — as measured by overall student achievement levels — and the top 5 percent for year-over-year progress—as measured by school-wide value-added data. These 10 percent of schools receive recognition for their success under the accountability system,” she said. “I am extremely proud of our educators and students for the hard work and enthusiasm that they have displayed. The commitment to teaching and learning is commendable. The Claiborne County Board of Education is thankful to have county wide teaching staff and students that strive for academic excellence.”
The department also recognized 12 districts as Exemplary for significantly improving student performance and narrowing achievement gaps: Arlington City, Bartlett City, Germantown City, Hawkins County, Huntingdon Special Schools, Knox County, Lakeland City, Manchester City, McKenzie Special Schools, Monroe County, Rhea County, and Sequatchie County. Only two of these districts, Sequatchie County and McKenzie Special Schools, have been identified as Exemplary Districts in prior years.
“We believe these districts are models for our work across the state. They all face different challenges and have different best practices to share,” McQueen said. “We look forward to learning from both our Exemplary Districts and Reward Schools throughout the school year.”
While Reward Schools are announced annually as part of the state accountability system, Priority and Focus Schools are named every three years with the most recent list announced in August 2014. Tennessee’s new waiver from the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) includes exit criteria for Priority and Focus Schools. These criteria allow schools to exit the Priority and Focus lists prior to a new list being announced.
You can find additional information about exit criteria for Priority and Focus Schools as well as a complete list of 2015 Reward Schools on the website: www.tn.gov/education/article/2015-school-accountability.
Reach Marisa Anders at 423-254-5588 or on Twitter @newsgirl88.