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County schools earn high marks from state

The Washington County School District received an A from the Tennessee Department of Education in every core subject area this year.
“All the credit goes to the hard work of students and the classroom level of instruction,” Director of Schools Ron Dykes said, adding that the scores were phenomenal in Washington County.
The four A’s in math, reading and language arts, social studies and science, compared to a state grade of an A in math and social studies and a state grade of B in reading and science.
The achievement represents the number of students who scored proficient or advanced compared to the rest of the students in the State of Tennessee.
The Tennessee Valued-Added Assessment System scores were also released. Dykes said TVAAS measures a student’s growth of knowledge in a year’s time.
“We are very proud of the increases we made,” he said.
The system also is associated with teacher data, which can be 50 percent of the teacher’s annual evaluation. He said the state expects each teacher to produce a certain amount of academic growth in the student and school population.
The scores for the district included a system grade of an A in math in 2012 and 2013, with an overall grade of an A for the state. In reading and language, the district received a C in 2012, a B in 2013 and a B state grade. The grade for social studies was an A in 2012 and 2013 and an A state grade.
“The credit has to go to the classroom teachers, and again (we’re) very appreciative of the parental support and the students’ ability to move their grade level forward, their school forward and their district forward,” Dykes said.
The largest achievement for TVAAS was in science. The district received a D in 2012, a B in 2013 and a B state grade.
Dykes told the board that the science grade improved because they encourage the best practices in teacher instruction.
“We provide them the resources necessary,” he said, adding that they have the right instructional leadership at the classroom level as well.
He said staff also compared the district to the state, as well as collaborated with other schools and school districts to learn what worked and where it worked well.
“We continue to improve the strategies that worked for us in the past,” Dykes said.
He told the board that someone teaching just five years ago would not recognize the classroom today, and massive changes are still under way.
The district is currently piloting a writing assessment in December. Dykes said students are being taught how to read and write, not only in English, but in math, art and P.E. classes.
“Reading is the mother of all subjects,” he said. “We have to get better at that.”