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VOL. 129 | NO. 147 | Wednesday, July 30, 2014

County Schools Show Gains in Reading, Science

By Bill Dries

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The Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program – or TCAP – test data for Shelby County Schools students in grades 3-8 shows 41.7 percent were proficient or advanced in math, with 41 percent proficient or advanced in reading and 52 percent proficient or advanced in science.

The data from state education officials reflects the 2013-2014 school year that ended in May. It was the first and only year of the merger of Shelby County’s two public school systems. But at this time last year, the proficiency data from the two school systems was presented separately as well as combined to set a baseline for the merged school district for comparison a year later.

Local schools leaders released their annual achievement test results Wednesday, July 30, showing the percentage of students proficient in math, reading and science and how it compared to the previous school year.

(Daily News File/Andrew J. Breig)

The math and reading proficiency levels as measured by the test were almost the same as seen in the 2012-2013 school year. The math proficiency percentage year to year dropped 1.1 percentage points and the reading percentage increased by 1.1 percentage points. Science proficiency increased 3.1 percentage points.

Proficiency data for individual schools is expected to be released by the state next month.

A year ago, the test data showed a dip in reading and language arts proficiency for Shelby County Schools, the state-run Achievement School District and statewide. That prompted intensive literacy strategies across all of those fronts that will continue into the new school year that begins Aug. 4.

In the coming school year, public education in Shelby County will shift to seven public school systems with a demerger to include six suburban school systems and a Shelby County Schools system consisting of schools in Memphis and unincorporated areas of Shelby County.

Shelby County Schools officials noted that the more detailed data shows despite the slight drop in the number of students proficient in math, there were gains among fifth and sixth graders.

Shelby County Schools superintendent Dorsey Hopson, who became leader of the merged school district just months before the start of the 2013-2014 school year measured in the test results, said the results released Wednesday, July 30, show the school district is “trending in the right direction.”

“However, we cannot rest with slight gains,” he added in a written statement. “We must press forward with a more aggressive agenda that increases student achievement at a more rapid rate.”

Hopson also noted that the district outpaced the state in several areas.

The results also measured the proficiency of high school students by subject.

In five of the six subjects, the number of Shelby County Schools high school students proficient or advanced in the subjects grew from the two previous school years.

By those results, more than half of Shelby County Schools high school students were proficient or advanced in Algebra I, English I and English II at 53.9 percent, 59.7 percent and 52.4 percent respectively. That is an increase from the previous year of 7.2 percent, 6.1 percent and 6.2 percent respectively.

In Algebra II, 34.4 percent of the high schoolers were proficient or advanced, an increase of 5.7 percent. English III proficiency dropped to 25.8 percent compared to 26.3 percent the school year before. And 47.6 percent of Biology I students were proficient or advanced, a slight increase from 46.4 percent the school year before.

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