VOL. 130 | NO. 208 | Monday, October 26, 2015
Tennessee Education Report Card Shows Some Gains For Shelby County Students
By Bill Dries
The Tennessee Department of Education’s report card for Shelby County Schools showed a slight increase in the graduation rate.
The rate rose to 75 percent in the 2014-15 school year from 74.6 percent the previous year.
The report card, released in Nashville Thursday, Oct. 22, also shows an average composite ACT score across Shelby County Schools of 16.9, down from 17.7 the previous year.
But the comparison doesn’t tell the whole story: The 2013-14 school year was the year SCS included schools within the city of Memphis as well as schools in surrounding suburbs. As of 2014-15, six suburbs had their own districts.
Those suburban school systems posted graduation rates ranging from 84.1 percent in Millington to 95.4 percent in Arlington, according to TED.
The 2013-14 school year also included low-performing schools that have since become part of the state-run Achievement School District, which is designated for the bottom five percent of Tennessee schools in terms of student achievement.
The ASD schools, most of which are in Memphis, showed a 47.8 percent graduation rate in the 2014-15 school year.
On a school-by-school basis, the Memphis Virtual School had the lowest graduation rate in the SCS system at 26.8 percent. Northside High School had a 44.2 percent graduation rate, and 49.1 percent of Hamilton High School’s seniors graduated.
Hollis F. Price Middle College, on the campus of Lemoyne-Owen College, and the Middle College High School, in Midtown at Central Avenue and East Parkway, each posted 100 percent graduation rates.
SCS leaders emphasized those graduation rates as well as growth in the rate at other schools.
Although it posted the lowest graduation rate of any SCS school, Memphis Virtual School’s rate was up 8.2 percentage points from the previous school year.
Northwest Prep Academy’s graduation rate grew from 43 percent in 2014 to 50.8 percent in 2015.
Chief academic officer Heidi Ramirez attributed Northwest Prep’s advancement to smaller class sizes and more “touch points.” School leaders intensively monitor attendance and classroom habits for students who are at the academy specifically because they are overage for their grade level. Overage students are considered likely to become dropouts.
Ramirez said the school system’s approach includes flagging students as dropout risks electronically based of statistics that include attendance.
“This is not just about statistics and data,” SCS board chairwoman Teresa Jones said. “We are proving that we can compete with anyone.”