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Hawkins schools hit all-time high for graduation rate

Jeff Bobo • Oct 9, 2017 at 2:30 PM
ROGERSVILLE — Hawkins County’s high school graduation rate continues to rise, but the recently released Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System data indicates that Hawkins students weren’t immune to a statewide downward trend in test scores.

This is nothing new.

Every few years the state changes the test standards, increasing the rigor, and there’s a statewide decline in scores. Hawkins County has always rebounded with years of steady improvement, with some schools achieving state and national recognition for their results.

On Thursday, Hawkins County Schools testing coordinator Reba Bailey presented the Board of Education with the county’s Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS) data, released last month.

Bailey noted that over the past 10 years there have been multiple revisions of testing standards to improve school curriculum.

“By writing standards that are more rigorous, and teaching toward those standards, we are preparing our students to have choices about college and career once they leave our school district,” Bailey told the BOE.

Although testing standards change, one thing that has been consistent for more than a decade is Hawkins County’s rising graduation rate, which hit a low-water mark of 74.8 percent in 2004.

The class of 2017 set a county record with a 97.05 percent graduation rate, eclipsing the previous high-water mark of 95.09 percent set by the class of 2016.

The 2017 mark also exceeds the state average graduation rate of 89.1 percent by 8 percentage points. That state average was the highest on record for Tennessee.

Although the TVAAS data recently released for grades 3-8 showed room for improvement, Director of Schools Steve Starnes noted there were several positive results as well.

TVAAS scores range form 1-5 with 5 being exceptional, 3 meaning the school met required growth standards, and 2 and 1 indicating little or no growth.

Three schools posted a composite score of 5.

Church Hill Intermediate scored a level 5 from the previous testing in 2014-2015 and maintained that growth in 2016-2017.

Keplar improved from a level 3 to a level 5, and St. Clair Elementary improved from a level 4 to a level 5.

Mooresburg Elementary School improved from a level 1 school to a level 4 school, and Bulls Gap School improved from a level 2 to a level 3.

Volunteer High School also saw improvement from a level 1 school to a level 3 school.

Due to the suspension of 3-8 testing during the 2015-2016 school year, five Hawkins County Schools (Mount Carmel Elementary, Church Hill Elementary, Carters Valley Elementary, McPheeters Bend Elementary and Surgoinsville Elementary) did not receive growth scores for the 2016-17 school year.The systemwide growth score for EOC (end of course) science, systemwide CTE science, and systemwide CTE concentrators in literacy all were level 3 in growth.

However, the overall system composite, which includes grade levels 5-8 and all high school EOC scores, was a level 1.

For the past two years, high school students in Tennessee have taken the new TNReady statewide assessment.

“As expected, the scores will decline due to implementing new standards and assessments across the state,” Starnes said. “However, as educators and students adjust to the higher standards, scores will begin to increase, and students will be better prepared for their career path.”

Hawkins County high school students improved performance overall in high school English language arts (ELA) and high school science from the 2016 EOC (end of course) assessments to the 2017 EOCs.

High school math and U.S. history indicated a slight dip in performance from the 2016 to the 2017 school year.

During the 2017 school year, Hawkins County high school students scored above the state average in Algebra I and English III.

“We knew as we transitioned to the new, more rigorous standards and tests, students’ scores would decline,” Starnes said. “I am proud to see that the percentage of Hawkins County high school students scoring on track or mastered increased in five of the eight EOC assessments from the previous year. Students showed growth in being on track or mastered in Algebra I, chemistry, English I, English III and geometry.

“Our district is committed to improving student achievement and preparing our students for a successful post-secondary and career experience. We will continue to focus on areas in need of improvement as we continue implementing new standards and curriculum.”

A detailed breakdown of the scores can be seen in the photo gallery of the online version of this article at www.timesnews.net.

Online only:

Here's a glimpse at how Hawkins County matched up against the state in High School EOCs:

* The 2017 scores for TN indicate that 15.1% of the students are on track or have mastered Algebra I standards, while 17.3% of the students in Hawkins County who took the Algebra I assessment scored on track or have mastered the Algebra I standards.

* Across TN, 34.3% of the high school students scored on track or mastered the English III standards, while 36.2 of the students in Hawkins County scored on track or mastered the English III standards.

* Algebra II across TN, 23.5% of the students are on track or showed mastery of the standards; and 14.4% of Hawkins County high school students scored as on track or met mastery.

* Chemistry across TN 41.2% of the students scored on track or showed mastery of the standards; and 35.8% of Hawkins County high school students scored as on track or met mastery.

* English I across TN, 29.5% of the students are on track or showed mastery of the standards; and 22.6% of Hawkins County high school students scored as on track or met mastery.

* English II across TN, 39.2% of the students are on track or showed mastery of the standards; and 34.9% of Hawkins County high school students scored as on track or met mastery.

* Geometry across TN, 25.8% of the students are on track or showed mastery of the standards; and 19.7% of Hawkins County high school students scored as on track or met mastery.                                                                            

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