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County schools score OK on exams

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Marshall County schools remain in "good standing" as far as federal No Child Left Behind requirements are concerned, in spite of more stringent standards applied to last year's testing, as the state struggles to catch up to the nation in academic achievement.

The Report Card on Tennessee's schools was released on Friday, almost two months later than usual.

"I jumped for joy," Schools Director Roy Dukes said. "It takes a tremendous effort. Basically we did well on the tests. The principals and teachers did an excellent job. In the achievement section, the majority of our schools did well. In the value-added area, some did well, and some we are going to have to work with."

Marshall County exceeded the state goal with a graduation rate of 91.4 percent. Dukes was pleased with this, and praised teachers, guidance counselors, administrators and parents, saying, "It takes a whole lot of people working together to get a student to graduate when they have decided they want to drop out."

"We still have a long way to go, but we're well on our way," Education Commissioner Bruce Opie said at a press conference held to release the scores. The increase in the number of problem schools was smaller than anticipated, and he attributed that to the "hard work" of classroom teachers.

"Eighty-nine percent of schools are not on the high priority list," reports Dr. Debbie Owens, executive director of federal education programs for the state. Owens also highlighted a special problem for Tennessee in 2010: the catastrophic flooding.

Fourteen districts' status was not reported, due to disruption caused by flooding, and two counties -- Cheatham and Houston -- were not able to test students at all.

Meanwhile, the "proficient" rating has been redefined to mean "mastery of the tested material" instead of "minimally prepared for the next level," so on these tests, many students who were accustomed to being rated "proficient" now find themselves called "basic" or even "below basic."