ECS numbers remain strong

By Thomas Wilson
star staff
twilson@starhq.com

  Elizabethton City Schools posted strong numbers in Gateway exams and achievement testing according to the 2004 report card issued last week by the Tennessee Department of Education.
  "We were generally pleased with the results," ECS Superintendent Dr. David Roper said on Friday.
  The report highlights the demographics, achievement data and Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) of all 136 school systems and each school.
  Tennessee administered both norm-referenced tests (NRT) and criteria-referenced tests (CRT) in the spring. This report card is the first to use CRT rather than the NRT used up until now.
  All five city schools met each federal benchmark for math and reading tests as well as attendance rates under the report's AYP requirements. For CRT scores, East Side Elementary students scored an A average in mathematics and a B grade in reading, social studies, and science. Harold McCormick Elementary students posted a B average score in all four subjects while West Side Elementary students posted an A average in all four subjects.
  The system posted high numbers in student achievement for elementary and high school testing.
  The system's K-8 grade students posted grades of A in math and reading, and B grades for social studies and science. The school district also saw high success from city students taking the Gateway test exams. City students scored proficient or advanced grades on Gateway exams with 91 percent in math, 99 percent for science and 95 percent for English. The Gateway exams are taken by high school students.
  Under the achievement data, the report did find students identified as having disabilities were scoring far below proficiency levels at the elementary levels.
  At Harold McCormick Elementary, the report found 48 percent of students with disabilities scoring below proficient levels in math. In the reading/language section, 65 percent of the students with disabilities tested below proficient levels.
  Roper said school administrators were aware of the testing categorization of students with disabilities, as was every school system in Tennessee and across the nation. The state average listed 55 percent of students identified as having disabilities scoring below proficient in math and 46 below proficient in reading/language arts.
  Roper said students identified as having disabilities occasionally were suffering from primary cognitive problems.
  "That is going to impact their ability to do academic work," he said. "That does not mean we don't try to keep expectations high."
  The goal of NCLB is to ensure that all students in all schools are academically proficient in math, reading and language arts by 2014. Schools, school systems and the state have been measured on their ability to move toward that goal. Roper said earlier NCLB requirements setting one standard for all students had now been modified taking into account those disabilities for some students.
  "There is an understanding that it is not reasonable to expect every single child, especially those with severe cognitive disabilities, to be able to perform at the same level as all other children," Roper said. "It does make allowances for the reality of the situation that our teachers are faced with."
  Roper added the same problems faced children identified by the state as economically disadvantaged. The lack of advantages provided other students affected how he or she scored on tests in later years.
  "A lot of times they come from a background that did not give them an advantage early on in life," Roper said. "We will continue to work with those students and all groups of students to have them achieving at maximum levels."
  In the demographics section, the report found 77.1 percent of the system's 146 teachers were highly qualified. Under NCLB, there are courses/classes that are required to be taught by a highly qualified teacher. This percentage is a reflection of the match between NCLB highly qualified courses/classes and the teacher actually teaching them who is identified as highly qualified.
  The district spent $7,452 per student in 2004 with 38 percent local, 11 percent federal, and 50 percent state dollars.