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Knox County Schools Meets State Performance Targets

The Tennessee Department of Education has released district academic achievement results for the 2013-14 school year. Released data includes aggregate grade 3-8 scores on the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) and End of Course (EOC) exams for school systems across the state.

The Knox County Schools met seven of eleven 2013-14 Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs) which are the academic performance targets set by the Tennessee Department of Education. This has resulted in the district earning the achievement accountability designation of “Achieve – Not Exemplary.” The academic results did show considerable work still to be done in closing achievement gaps defined by language, race, and disability, although some progress was seen in closing achievement gaps defined by income.

Results on the TCAP assessment were largely flat, with a few promising increases in proficiency, but there were some areas where the district experienced declines. “These somewhat modest results, which are inconsistent with the strong gains we have achieved the past several years, heighten concerns about Tennessee not having a fully “aligned” assessment in grades 3-8,” said Dr. Jim McIntyre, Superintendent of the Knox County Schools. “Our teachers have implemented Tennessee’s rigorous Common Core State Standards, while our children are still being assessed by a TCAP test that was not designed to measure learning under the new standards.” Results on the high school level End of Course (EOC) assessments were largely consistent with the prior year.

Highlights from the 2013-14 data for the Knox County Schools include:
  • Met state achievement targets for 7 of 11 Annual Measureable Objectives (AMOs)
    • Overall district accountability status: Achieve: Not Exemplary; In Need of Subgroup Improvement
    • District closed achievement gaps for Economically Disadvantaged students in 3 of 4 subject categories
    • Significant room for improvement in reaching subgroup gap closure targets, particularly with Black/Hispanic/Native-American students, English Language Learners, and Students with Disabilities
  • Essentially flat in TCAP for grades 3-8 in math, science and social studies
    • Reading/language arts for grades 3-8 declined by 3.3 percent
    • 3rd grade reading/language arts proficiency declined across the state by about 5 percent, and by 9.3 percent in the KCS from 53.5 percent to 44.2 percent
    • 7th grade reading/language arts proficiency increased by 2.6 percent from 54.8 to percent to 57.4 percent
  • Essentially flat in 5 of 7 high school EOC exams in grades 9-12
    • Algebra II increased by 4.5 percent
    • English III declined by 2.8 percent
    • First time results for chemistry to be released later this fall
  • Since 2010, during the five-year strategic plan, Excellence for All Children:
    • 664 additional students are proficient or advanced in reading/language arts
    • 3,736 additional students are proficient or advanced in math
    • 3,425 additional students are proficient or advanced in science
    • 2,133 additional students are proficient or advanced in social studies
    • 1,042 additional students are proficient or advanced in biology
“Our TCAP results are generally flat compared to the past few years, and we are concerned that we even saw decreases in proficiency in some areas. But the fact that we do not have an aligned assessment in Tennessee makes it very difficult to interpret our student assessment results,” said McIntyre.“ Our somewhat inconsistent outcomes, and those across the state, demonstrate the need to move quickly to an assessment that is designed to appropriately measure student learning under Tennessee’s rigorous Common Core State Standards.”

In terms of additional positive outcomes, McIntyre notes that the Knox County Schools is projected to earn an overall TVAAS composite score of Level 5 (the highest level attainable) for 2013-14 and is currently expecting a slight increase in the high school graduation rate for the class of 2014 when those results are released later this fall.