- Priority: bottom 5% of schools in TN (TN DOE gives these to the Achievement School District to turn around)
- Focus: 10% of schools with largest achievement gaps (regardless of overall performance)
- Reward: schools with highest growth
But this week, some of these schools were told there had been a big mistake. Apparently, the TN DOE was going against what was written in the NCLB waiver and ended up having to take about 40 schools off the focus list and add some that were originally reward schools.
From an anonymous teacher in Washington County:
We were on the cusp of reward after the 2012-13 school year. We were told at the beginning of last year that we probably would make it and then my principal said we missed it by a minor tenth of a point. We are definitely on the focus list this year. That I know for sure.
Our school had such good growth and achievement! Our sped kids - bless them - can't compete and keep up - too much of a gap. A resource/sped teacher is next door to me. She came to me yesterday in tears about this.
Our sped students are being double punished by our DOE. 1st- they are being strapped with the unfair burden of our school's failure. It doesn't matter how the TN DOE spins it.... If your school makes the priority or focus list, the local newspaper tells everyone that your school is a failure! 2nd- some of our sped kids made AMAZING gains from one year to the next. These students were ranked in the below basic category and moved all the way to the top of the basic category - one as much as 87 points. But their gains and hard work are not valued by state department. These students are still in the basic category and deemed a failure. Gaps are measured by where students fit in the 4 categories: below basic, basic, proficient and advanced. They are not measured on growth, true ability, and effort. This is shameful and WRONG!
My sped/inclusion kids last year worked like beasts. They totally out worked my reg ed students hands down. They deserve medals not labels!
Errors such as this one, the awful TCAP delay in the spring, and the questionable waivers granted by Commissioner Huffman to cover their problem make everyone question and doubt the current leadership.
From their ivory tower in Nashville, the TN DOE wields a heavy hand of accountability over teachers and our local school districts, but its motto seems to be: