If anyone has the right to praise those Reward Schools, it’s Bailey, who was the county’s testing coordinator in 2017-18, when the work leading up to the Reward School status was taking place.
“This is the top distinction a school can earn in Tennessee,” Bailey told the board. “Reward Schools are those that are improving overall student academic achievement and student growth for all students, as well as student subgroups.”
A tougher accountability model
This is the first year Tennessee implemented the new accountability model, which Bailey calls “pretty tough.”
The change takes into account achievement scores, growth, the performance of underserved subgroups such as children living in poverty, minorities, disabled students and English as a second language students.
It also looks at absenteeism, graduation rates and ACT test scores.
Of the 1,814 public schools in Tennessee, only 318 earned Reward School status, including Carters Valley Elementary, Clinch School, Hawkins Elementary and Mount Carmel Elementary.
As faculty and principals from each of those schools came up to pose for a photo with the school board Thursday evening, Bailey shared her observations on how each school achieved this success.
Carters Valley Elementary School
A faculty meeting with Central Office staff was called at the end of the day on a Friday afternoon, and Bailey admitted the staff probably thought they were in trouble, but the opposite was the case.
“When we shared the Reward status with them, they left very happy, and they have worked really, really hard,” Bailey said. “I’ve had an opportunity to work with this staff, meet with them several times as the Title 1 coordinator or testing coordinator in looking at data, in looking at strategies they’re using, in looking at materials. I’ve learned a lot from them, and we have a lot to learn from them, and I’m very proud of them.”
“Clinch is a unique situation as a K-12 school — about 150 (students) K-12. They have to work across all 12 grade levels for their achievement. Again, I’ve had an opportunity to work with this staff through Title 1 and working with data. They’re a very focused staff. I’ve learned a lot from them. I’ve been in the classrooms visiting the different classrooms. We’re very proud of their achievement, being a Reward School, and being among the top schools in Tennessee,” Bailey said.
Hawkins Elementary School
Bailey called Principal Barry Bellamy around 9:30 p.m. one night to inform him immediately after learning his school had been named a Reward School, and he scheduled a staff meeting first thing the next morning.
Admittedly Bellamy led his staff to believe the surprise meeting was because “they were in trouble,” but he quickly sprang the good news on them.
“We see great changes going on there, great work going on there. They worked really hard to achieve this status, and they’re continuing that work, so we’re really proud of what you all did this year. It’s a great honor,” said Bailey.
Mount Carmel Elementary School
Mount Carmel is a back-to-back Reward School. It also has Reward School banners hanging in its gym from 2011-12 and 2012-13.
“I did get the opportunity to sit in on some of their collaborative meetings the first year they won Reward status, and I was watching and listening to all of the data that they discussed. ... Just the discussion among the teachers, the discussion among their principal, you could tell the work that was going into it,” Bailey said. “It was about growing students. It was about making students readers. It was about helping students who struggle.
“They're working to grow all of their students, wherever they are in their academics, and I think it really shows in the work that they’re doing in scoring as high as they do.”