The Tennessee Department of Education released the 2018 Reward and Priority schools, two key designations under Tennessee’s school accountability system.
This was the first year Tennessee implemented its new school accountability model, which was developed with educators and stakeholders across the state and which looks at multiple measures of success.
In 2018, 318 schools in 85 school districts, about 20 percent of schools in the state, earned Reward status.
Priority schools are identified at least every three years and are the schools most in need of support and improvement. Priority schools fall into the bottom 5 percent of schools in the state text scores over the past three years and have low graduation rates.
The 2018 Priority list includes 82 schools across eight districts. These school are eligible for additional funding and will be supported by the department, in coordination with their districts, in developing a plan to improve.
“In this first year with our new system, it is incredibly encouraging to see more than 300 of our schools area earning Reward status for how they are supporting our students’ academic achievement and growth,” said Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen in a news release. “At the same time, we see a number of places where we need to improve.”
In Davidson County, 22 Metro Nashville Public Schools achieved Reward status and 21 schools landed on the state’s Priority list.
“I congratulate the 22 Metro schools that achieved Reward status,” said Nashville Mayor David Briley in a news release. “This is a testament to the hard work of Metro teachers, principals and students and a nod to the many bright spots in Metro Schools.
“Metro Schools now also has 21 schools on the state’s Priority list of 82, which is an increase of six schools from the 2014 Priority list. This tells us that thousands of Metro students are not getting the education they deserve, particularly low-income students and students of color. This is unacceptable.”
“The increase in priority schools indicates the need for us, as a district, to place more differentiated resources into our neediest schools; it further speaks to us as a collective community to better provide community-based supports to school to ensure we can accelerate them,” Director of Schools Dr. Shawn Joseph said in a news release. “When properly resourced, the strategy we have in place has proven to accelerate growth in schools. The question we must ask ourselves is how do we make all of our schools a priority so that they are successful. We need to treat all of our schools as a priority.”
Metro Schools have scheduled a press conference for Monday morning to address the lists.
The Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools System placed 16 schools on the Rewards list.
“We are very proud that our students are staying the course to make academic achievement and progress,” said CMCSS Director of Schools Millard House II in a news release. “We owe a debt of thanks to our teachers, administrators and classified staff for keeping the focus on student learning. And, we cannot overlook the great support we receive from students’ families and the community.”
Seven schools in Wilson County were listed as Reward schools.
“By any standard, the start of this school year has been exceptional. Last month, we learned that the district has now achieved a Level 5 status for the academic growth of our students. Nine of our schools, almost half, received the highest ranking possible,” said Wilson County Director of Schools Dr. Donna Wright in a news release. “Today, we’ve learned that seven of our schools have also achieved Reward School Status. I can’t say enough about the hard work and dedication that’s been exerted by our students, teachers and administrators.”
A third of the Rutherford County Schools' schools were named to the list of Reward Schools, according to the school system.
There were 15 schools named to the list.
“We are proud Rutherford County Schools has once again been recognized as being among the best in Tennessee and that so many of our schools have earned this impressive and notable recognition,” said Director of Schools Bill Spurlock in a news release. “Everyone who contributes to the success of these schools should be commended for their efforts. It takes all parties working together, including administrators, teachers, students and our parents.”
Sumner County placed nine schools on the Rewards list.
"In a tough testing environment, our students, teachers and leaders overcame many obstacles," Sumner County Director of Schools Dr. Del Phillips said in a news release. "Our Sumner County Rewards Schools demonstrate the commitment to excellence that we want to see across the county."