BES named a Reward School for Progress
Dr. Tracy McAbee, principal at Benton Elementary said the reward designation was based on both overall achievement in TCAP scores as well as growth measured in the value-added system
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman recently announced 169 schools as the 2012-13 Reward Schools, the top 5 percent of schools in the state for annual growth and the top 5 percent for academic achievement. Benton Elementary was named as a Reward School for the progress it has made in school test scoring.
“Tennessee continues to set the standard in education reform as we maintain our focus on high levels of achievement and continuous growth,” Haslam said. “Our Reward Schools have proven that all students can learn and grow even though their starting lines may be different, a critical part of our effort to prepare our students for the jobs available in the marketplace now and in the future. We are incredibly grateful for the teachers and staff at each of these schools and excited to recognize their efforts on behalf of Tennessee students.”
Tennessee has set out to become the fastest-improving educational system in the country by raising student performance each year. For the second year, the state has recognized Tennessee schools that have shown the most progress year-over-year alongside the schools with the highest achievement scores on statewide tests.
Dr. Tracy McAbee, principal at Benton Elementary said the reward designation was based on both overall achievement in TCAP scores as well as growth measured in the value-added system. He said there may be instances where students may not have passed testing, but have had major growth in scores, which shows improvement is happening.
McAbee said growth in math was the primary reason BES was named a Progress school and praised the teachers for being able to figure out what the students needed in order to better teach them. Polk County had an overall growth of 4.6% in TCAP scores in math between 2011 and 2012. Growth was also shown in reading and science. Social studies was the only category to see a drop.
According to McAbee, Benton Elementary was named a Focus School last year that enabled them to apply for and receive a $200,000 grant. While the grant was geared toward reading, he said they were able to utilize some of the same ideas used for reading in the math classes. McAbee said a parallel block schedule that divided students into smaller groups was the key to teaching each student based on what they needed.
Director of Schools Dr. James Jones said teachers at Benton Elementary have been willing to take on McAbee’s new system and it is “working like crazy.” He said the teachers were worker bees and deserve a lot of credit for the growth in the education at Benton Elementary.
The 2012-13 Reward Schools made these impressive accomplishments during a year when Tennessee saw consistent gains on the statewide Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program, or TCAP. As schools across the state made improvements and reached higher levels of proficiency, the 169 Reward Schools led the way.
Because Tennessee’s accountability system rewards growth and recognizes schools’ varying baselines, every school in the state can strive for the Reward Schools designation.“We believe that all students deserve strong schools where they can grow to high levels of achievement,” Huffman said. “At the beginning of each year, every school in this state should know that they have a shot at becoming a Reward School.”
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