More students graduated from Metro Nashville Public Schools in 2012, according to state figures released today in the 2012 Report Card. The district’s graduation rate rose by 2.2 percentage points, up from 76.2 to 78.4 percent of students graduating in four years.
“Our goal is for every child who enrolls in our schools to earn a high school diploma,” said Director of Schools Dr. Jesse Register. “We are working hard across all grade levels to help students realize that goal and I am pleased to see continual improvement in our graduation rate.
“Achievement scores are up and our value-added scores compare well to state averages. We saw some improvement in our letter grades and expect more in the future.”
The percentage does not include students who require more than four years and a summer to graduate. Many students, including some English Learners and students with disabilities, need more time to complete the graduation requirements.
“As a community, we claim every graduate as a success even if students need a little more time than the state’s calculation allows,” said Register.
Metro Schools has focused on programs that allow students to learn in more personalized schools designed to fit their interests and educational needs.
Increases in the graduation rate are the result of many factors, including the success of the Academies of Nashville in zoned schools, the addition of magnet schools and specialized schools such as MNPS Virtual High School, Nashville Big Picture, Middle College High, the Academies at Old Cockrill, Hickory Hollow and Opry Mills, and the district’s data review, school improvement and support programs. Metro Schools’ employees at the middle school and elementary school levels are working to identify and address early indicators that students are at risk for dropping out.
The 2012 Report Card includes district data on the event dropout rate. The report shows an increase to 8.8 percent from the 2.3 percent reported in 2011. The state is using a new calculation to determine this rate. The district has asked the state for a list of students to cross-check against district records to develop an apples-to-apples, year-to-year comparison.
“Erin O’Hara and the data quality team at the Tennessee Department of Education have been very helpful,” added Register.
The Report Card for Metro Schools includes achievement and accountability data originally released in July. The district showed growth in achievement among all subgroups of students last year, placing the district in intermediate status - the second highest accountability category.
Under this new accountability framework, the top-performing districts are “Exemplary” while the bottom performing districts are in two “In Need of Improvement” categories; the remaining districts are in an intermediate category. Tennessee’s new accountability system replaces No Child Left Behind’s Annual Yearly Progress measures. Rather than expecting all districts to meet the same benchmarks year after year, the new system acknowledges that districts are starting from different places and rewards those that show the most growth. Under the new system, approximately 43% of districts were categorized as “In Need of Improvement” or “In Need of Subgroup Improvement.”
“These results show thousands more Metro Nashville students are performing at higher levels,” Register said. “Tennessee standards are among the highest in the country and this new accountability system is real and is holding districts to standards that are difficult, but attainable.
“The growth we have seen this year is the result of hard work, changes to instructional practice, professional development for principals and teachers, and meeting our students’ diverse needs. We want to accelerate that growth at all levels and close achievement gaps.”
Time and time again, research shows children who struggle with reading in third grade will continue to struggle in school and have a greatly reduced chance of graduating from high school. But we can all help turn this around - teachers, parents and everyone else - thanks to a wealth of new resources from the Tennessee Department of Education. ReadTennessee.org helps us all understand the new standards for reading in elementary school and gives ideas for helping to meet them.You don't have to be a professional educator or understand the jargon of pedagogy to help out. Cruising through the website, I see reading toolkits for both teachers and families. The reading standards are easily available from the homepage and written in language we can all understand. There is even an area set aside for those who want to volunteer as reading tutors. Tennessee's First Lady Crissy Haslam says in her welcome message: