Half of county schools pass 'No Child Left Behind' report

By Lesley Jenkins
star staff
On the one-year anniversary of the federal 'No Child Left Behind' Law, the Carter County School System received good news and bad news. Eight of 15 schools in the system passed the federal benchmark. However, seven schools didn't.
Schools that met the federal benchmark in the 2003 report were: Little Milligan Elementary School, Hunter Elementary School, Central Elementary School, Cloudland Elementary School, Happy Valley Elementary School, Happy Valley Middle School, Happy Valley High School, and Keenburg Elementary School.
Schools that did not meet the federal benchmark were: Cloudland High School, Hampton Elementary School, Hampton High School, Range Elementary School, Unaka Elementary School, Unaka High School, and Valley Forge Elementary School.
"I feel like the parents, teachers and principals should keep all of the results in perspective. It is not unexpected. We will take it and go with it, and, hopefully, we will get better," Carter County Schools Superintendent, Dallas Williams, said Thursday after the report was released.
Range Elementary School improved its status with the 'No Child Left Behind' Law. The school was one of 63 schools in the state that were removed from the "high priority schools" list. Range was moved to the "target schools" list.
Williams congratulated Range Elementary on the efforts the principal and teachers made toward the school being removed from the "high priority schools" list.
Governor Phil Bredesen warned the public on Wednesday to expect a high percentage of public schools to fall short of the requirements of the 'No Child Left Behind' Law.
Williams said the results of the seven schools that did not pass in the county system were expected. Since guidelines for the 'No Child Left Behind' Law are new, many officials were not surprised by the results.
Students in each county and city school are divided into eight different subgroups and are required to take standardized tests in math, reading, writing, and language arts. If only one subgroup scores below the set proficiency level, then the entire school is labeled as a "target school." This does not mean that all students in the school are failing; however, it does identify what areas need attention and those students who need assistance.
All schools must achieve a certain percentage for overall attendance, standardized testing attendance, and graduation rate.
Meeting each mandate in the first year can be incredibly hard for some schools. Standardized tests are given on a state designated date despite inclement weather and sickness. Carter County Schools missed 14 days of classes due to weather, according to Williams.
Williams said during the reading, language arts and writing test some county schools were concerned with the number of students sick with influenza. If 95 percent of the students in each school do not take the test, the school will not meet the federal benchmark.
Four out of seven Johnson County Schools were added to the "target schools" list. Doe Valley Elementary School, Johnson County Middle School, Mountain City Elementary School, and Roan Creek Elementary School did not meet federal benchmarks. Morris Woodring, instructor of special programs, said that one of the schools missed the mandate by a half of a percentage point.
"We did have some schools that were 'target schools'. Now we know the marks and the guidelines we know what to work for," Woodring said. Johnson County High School, Laurel Elementary School and Shady Valley Elementary School met federal 'No Child Left Behind' guidelines.
"Obviously there are a lot of schools I wish had met the guidelines but don't. I'm pleased to see that Tennessee fared better than a lot of other states out there," Bredesen said after the report was released.
The Associated Press reported that other "southeastern states found compliance rates ranged from 13 percent of Florida schools, 33 percent of Alabama schools and 58 percent of Georgia schools."
The 2003 'No Child Left Behind Report' is posted for public viewing on the states Department of Education Web site at www.state.tn.us/education/.