This year’s TCAP data reveals a great deal about the perseverance of our students and teachers, despite the many challenges that the global pandemic presented over the past two years. In a year of uncertainty, the Franklin Special School District maintained its long history of outperforming the state in every grade level and subject area. In fact, the district as a whole outperformed the proficiency percentage of the state by double digits in every subject area.
- English/Language Arts = 14% higher than the state proficiency percentage
- Math = 16% higher
- Science = 27% higher
- Social Studies = 29% higher
While the scores demonstrate student achievement well above the state average, they also make clear that there are students in our district who will continue to need extra support to overcome the impact of lost learning time last year.
“As we welcomed students back for in-person learning last year, our goal was for students to feel supported by everyone in the school,” said Director of Schools Dr. David Snowden. “Our first priority was to reacclimate students and assure them that school is a place where they could rely on the compassion and patience of their teachers, the predictability of learning in a classroom with their friends, and an environment where they could set aside their worries for the day and concentrate on learning, playing, eating and growing.”
As those fundamentals were established, teachers assessed where students were academically and tailored their instruction of new standards accordingly, as well as targeted knowledge gaps that arose as a result of the 2020 spring closure learning loss.
- The FSSD scored well above the state in all tested subject areas at every grade level.
- A few areas met or exceeded the percentage of students from 2019 TCAP who scored Mastered or On-Track, including 4th grade English Language Arts, 7th grade Social Studies, and 8th grade English Language Arts.
- The district has placed a high priority on ELA/Literacy by defining it as one of the four main goals of the District Strategic Plan, Reach 2024. As such, it is very encouraging to see that two of our largest areas of growth (4th grade ELA and 8th grade ELA) occurred in ELA/Literacy scores.
- While formal rankings are not provided to districts, analysis shows that the FSSD is among the top 10% of Tennessee districts for achievement in all subject areas.
- 8th grade Geometry students had the highest average score in the entire state, testing against high school students as well as other middle school Geometry students.
The 2021 TCAP results also revealed the impacts of the extended closure in the spring of 2020 and the expected gaps this created in students’ learning. While math is typically an area of strength for the FSSD, all grade levels experienced a small drop in the proficiency of students this past year. Additionally, student proficiency in ELA/literacy is between 40% to 53% in all grade levels, which shows that more work is needed in closing the gaps in students’ reading and writing skills.
Long before TCAP tests were administered, the district had been assessing students throughout the school year to provide a tailored approach to learning loss. Strategies that have been implemented – or are planned for this year – to help students rise to the challenge of making up lost time in the classroom include:
- Free Summer Learning Camps (held June 2021 and to be held in June 2022) for priority students in grades 1-8 as part of the Tennessee Learning Loss Remediation and Student Acceleration Act, to provide additional learning opportunities essential to accelerate students’ educational growth.
- STREAM Mini-Camps (to be held September 7-30) for a limited number of priority students after school. These camps are designed to shore up Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts, and Math concepts in an interactive environment, encouraging students to explore and problem-solve by analyzing situations and trying different methods to find a solution.
- After-school tutoring opportunities in all grades. Certified teachers will provide after-school academic support for students. Transportation and snacks will be provided.
- United Way’s Raise Your Hand after-school tutoring with trained volunteers for reading and math (ongoing) for elementary students.
- Increased phonics instruction for foundational literacy (ongoing). FSSD early grades teachers were trained over the past several months in a phonics-based approach as part of the Reading 360 initiative, sponsored by the Tennessee Department of Education.
- Renewed emphasis on social emotional learning (SEL) and mental health supports (ongoing). The FSSD understands the pandemic’s profound effect on some students and we now have certified therapists with offices in every school through a partnership with Mercy Community Healthcare as an added layer to our counseling programs. There is also a therapy dog in every building to help children who thrive with the support of the dog’s presence during times of emotional distress.
- An intervention paraprofessional (beginning fall 2021) for every school has been hired to focus on learning loss. Teachers will work with the interventionists on providing critical and timely support to students so they can bridge the gaps to learning.
Because the district achieved a 99% participation rate on state assessments, the FSSD meets the requirement for the “hold harmless” legislation passed by the Tennessee General Assembly. This means that the Tennessee Department of Education will not provide letter grades for schools or an overall designation for the district. However, in the coming weeks, the state will recognize any schools that met the criteria for achieving Reward School status, and the district will also receive growth calculations based on historical data and scores from spring TCAP testing.
“There are many areas to celebrate as we continue to review the assessment data. We are extremely proud of the dedicated work and support our teachers provide daily to students of all talent levels,” Snowden said. “There are also certainly some areas on which to focus and improve. We will spend the next few weeks analyzing the data more deeply to determine appropriate next steps and to purposefully implement the strategies we have already identified. We remain determined to meet the needs of each student and to provide the teachers with all of the support and resources that they need.”