Franklin County Schools: Covid Times Test Data

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the Sept. 16 Franklin County School Board meeting, Supervisor of Elementary Instruction Kim Tucker and Supervisor of Secondary Instruction Leah Harrell explained 2020-2021 test score data and the new mechanisms for addressing learning loss.

Compared to 2018-2019, elementary age achievement testing scores dropped in both English Language Acquisition and Math, Tucker said. But she praised county elementary schools for higher TVAAS (Tennessee Value Added Assessment System) scores in both subject areas. TVAAS is a statewide student comparison measuring growth, how many students improved, not achievement. For the elementary level TVAAS scores rose from 2 to 3 in ELA and from 1 to 5 in Math. “I’m pleased we didn’t lose as much ground as other districts,” Tucker said.

Harrell cited the same pattern in grades 6-8, lower overall achievement scores, but TVAAS scores increasing from 2 to 3 in ELA and from 1 to 5 in Math. At the high school level, though, both achievement and TVAAS scores decreased. Harrell attributed the decline to the large number of virtual and hybrid schedule learners at the high school level. “Being in school is beneficial,” Harrell stressed.

To remedy learning loss occurring due to the pandemic, each school has three educational assistants to provide tutoring, Tucker said. “In terms of achievement, we have work to do … You’ll see better achievement in the middle and upper schools, once we get those foundational skills shored up in the primary grades.”

Explaining the difference between the new learning loss tutoring model and the Response to Intervention program already in play, Harrell said the more intensive RTI program targeted students achieving below the 25th percentile. Learning loss tutors worked with students just slightly behind due to interruption in instruction resulting from the pandemic.

Consistent with the national trend, ACT scores also decreased last year, Harrell said. The state earned national kudos, however, for testing more students than any other state. Franklin County was one of the few districts offering weekend testing, Federal Projects Supervisor Jenny Crabtree pointed out, with a number of students from other districts taking advantage of the opportunity.

In other business, Director of Schools Stanley Bean recognized Sewanee Elementary School for receiving Reward School status. The criteria for the award required level 5 student success in both achievement and growth. Bean praised Principal Allison Dietz, as well as past principal Kim Tucker. SES has received the award several times.

Bean also announced the $500 bonuses for teachers and administrators would go out in November. The wage supplement will recognize returning teachers and administrators who persevered and stayed with the school system throughout the difficult 2020-2021 school year.

Sherrie Miller, grandmother of a Franklin County student, addressed the board expressing her displeasure with “how COVID had been handled.” Miller said Tennessee currently had the nation’s worst COVID infection rate and less than 50 percent of residents were vaccinated. “Masks should be mandated, since we don’t have an option to do virtual,” Miller insisted, pointing to the masking policy of neighboring school districts.

The board voted to elect CleiJo Walker chair and Lance Williams vice chair for the 2021-2022 school year.

Suggesting a board administrative change, Bean proposed a non-voting board member from each high school. The state student-representative policy calls for the student to have at least a 3.0 grade point average, no disciplinary issues, and a good attendance record. Bean asked the board to review the policy for possible adoption at the November meeting. He recommended, if adopted, high school student body presidents should assume the representative role.

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