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JMCSS shows improved growth on TNReady tests

JACKSON, Tenn. – The commitment of the students and educators of the Jackson-Madison County School System during the 2017-2018 school year resulted in significant academic growth for the district. Results from the TNReady assessments show that the district tripled the number of subject areas performing “at expectations” or higher based on the Tennessee Department of Education’s rating system for academic growth. As a result, more schools were also recognized as scoring “at expectations” or higher than the previous school year.


The Tennessee Department of Education uses a system called the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS) to indicate whether schools and districts are performing as expected on state assessments. TVAAS results are placed on a 1 to 5 scale, with a score of 1 being the lowest (significantly below expectations), a score of 3 being the average (at expectations, and a score of 5 being above average (significantly above expectations).


Jackson-Madison County Schools improved the overall number of reported subject areas receiving a 3 or higher to 45% in 2017-2018, a significant increase from 14% during the 2016-2017 school year. This improvement was largely based on improved academic growth in math and English/Language Arts.


On the 2017-2018 assessments, 57% of individual grade levels at JMCSS schools received a score of 3 or higher for academic growth on the math assessments, up from 43% during 2016-2017. In English/Language Arts, the district saw an even larger increase in academic growth. The percentage of individual grade levels at schools receiving a score of 3 or higher for academic growth in English/Language Arts increased from 38% in 2016-2017 to 70% in 2017-2018. This jump in academic growth on the state reading assessment improved the district’s overall literacy score from a 1 to a 3 on the TVAAS scale, indicating a performance level of “at expectations.”


Reasons behind the improvement


District leaders point to a few specific areas as the causes for the jump in academic growth. A more focused approach on coaching teachers on effective teaching strategies, a new aligned curriculum, and teachers’ willingness to embrace new initiatives are at the center of the district’s strategy.


“We are focused on what we teach, how we teach, and incorporating literacy in all areas. Our teachers, staff, and administrators have done a great job embracing our new areas of focus” stated Dr. Eric Jones, Superintendent of JMCSS. “The 2017-2018 school year was our first year implementing an instructional framework that focuses all teachers on a few effective strategies and giving administrators an opportunity to focus on helping teachers grow in those areas. The framework also places a big emphasis on literacy and the expectation that all teachers are literacy teachers on a daily basis.”


The 2017-2018 school year was also a first for the district’s new math curriculum and a pilot year for the new English/Language Arts curriculum.


Dr. Jared Myracle, Chief Academic Officer for JMCSS noted the positive effects of using a more aligned and challenging curriculum across the district. “We began a district-wide implementation of the math curriculum in August of 2017 and began a pilot of English/Language Arts curriculum by the end of September of 2017, so we really had a strong start in both areas. Teachers also received training on the curriculum during the school year. For a student to achieve the best results, you need a great teacher and a strong curriculum, and we are confident in the direction the district is headed.”


While district leaders are encouraged by the academic growth experienced in 2017-2018, Dr. Jones acknowledges there is still a long way to go. “As a district, our overall score is not where we want it to be. We can’t be satisfied until all of our students experience the kind of growth that will set them up for options and opportunities to be successful in their future. Our job is to build on this strong start and make sure that we keep pushing forward.”