ECS meets all NCLB benchmarks

By Thomas Wilson
star staff
twilson@starhq.com

  Elizabethton City Schools met all federal benchmarks established under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) standards for 2004, according to a report released by the Tennessee Department of Education on Thursday morning.
  According to the Department of Education, the five schools in the Elizabethton district met all federal standards covering test scores, testing participation, and attendance according.
  Elizabethton City Schools Director Dr. David Roper said on Thursday afternoon that his system has not received any NCLB information about the district's performance for 2004 NCLB standards.
  "We are anticipating getting that shortly and acting accordingly," Roper said.
  The department found 81 percent of Tennessee schools met all federal NCLB standards and an additional 11 percent missed in just one category. If a school fails to meet every requirement in every subgroup - including demonstrating 95 percent participation on assessments - it does not meet the federal benchmark and is identified as a "target" school. Schools failing to meet a requirement two years in a row are designated as "high priority" schools.
  Elementary schools meet federal benchmarks if they demonstrate 95 percent participation rate on all state assessments and obtain the required proficiency in math and language arts as determined by TCAP achievement tests as well as writing assessments. High school students must demonstrate proficiency in Gateway test subjects of math, reading/language arts, and English as well as writing assessments.
  Elementary and secondary schools are also required to post a 93 percent attendance rate for the school year or demonstrate improvement from the previous year. Federal benchmarks also require 90 percent graduation rate of high schools for the school year (excluding GED and special education diplomas) or improvement from the previous year.
  The district's Harold McCormick and East Side elementary schools were listed on the target school list last year after reported attendance rates failed to meet the federal requirement. The school system later found the attendance rate report at the schools was the result of a computer system snafu. After attendance numbers were re-calculated and submitted to the state, the district reported attendance levels actually had been achieved.
  Elizabethton High School missed a federal benchmark for testing and proficiency levels on Gateway's English exam for students classified as economically disadvantaged on last year's NCLB report. The school met the benchmark for reading, language arts and writing assessment test proficiency for this year.
  Department of Education spokesperson Dana Keeton said Thursday afternoon that the department had notified each school district of the new NCLB report including those not on a target or high priority list.
  "We started with the high priority schools, then we went on to those on the target list," she said. "We also have notified by e-mail systems that did not have schools on the list."
  According to the 2004 report 320 Tennessee schools -- or 19 percent -- failed at least one of the federal benchmarks for a first or second time. The report saw a significant improvement over last year when 47 percent of state schools landed on a target or high priority list.
  NCLB was implemented during the 2002-2003 school year. It requires schools to have 100 percent proficiency among students in math, reading and language arts by 2014. They must also meet graduation and attendance standards. Testing evaluations are categorized by a student's race, socioeconomic status, and disability. Schools or districts with fewer than 45 students in any one category are not required to report proficiency levels.
  In neighboring counties, Sullivan County's South and East high schools made the target list as did David Crockett High School in Washington County. Johnson County High School was named on the target list. Dobyns Bennett High School in Kingsport and Tennessee High School in Bristol were also placed on the target school list for failing to meet at least one federal benchmark.