Results from the state report card show largely positive signs for both local school systems.
Both experienced gains in graduation rates, with Lenoir City improving to 92% and Loudon County at 94.8%. Both were above the state’s average of 89.1% for 2018-19.
“Loudon County improved another 2.3% this year in our graduation rate,” Michael Garren, county director of schools, said in an email correspondence. “This means 94.8% of our students graduated with a high school diploma compared to 89.1% in the state.
“Considering the requirements for graduation and the academic rigor students are experiencing has also increased over time then to see continued growth in this area is a true reflection of the dedication that our teachers and administrators have to see our students be equipped for a successful future,” he added. “It takes a staff that loves and cares for students and students that desire to accomplish their best for a continued increase in the percent of students graduating with a high school diploma.”
Both school systems also saw improvements in academic achievement.
“Our teachers and students made significant advances this year,” Jeanne Barker, city director of schools, said in an email correspondence. “We know that we are doing the right things for students. State average gains can often be attributed to students being better test takers. When we see achievement gains greater than the state average, we see this as an indicator that our students are learning at a deeper level.”
The systems showcased student growth composite scores of an overall 5, the highest a district can receive. While Lenoir City carried 5s in English language arts and mathematics, social studies was a 1.
Loudon County scored a 5 in overall student growth and mathematics, but a 3 in English language arts and social studies.
“The district’s overall growth and mathematics growth both achieved a level 5 this past year. This means that the students in the district achieved well above expectations for what they are expected to learn in one year,” Garren said. “The growth for English and social studies was a level 3, which means that students grew as they were expected to grow in a year. I am pleased that our students were learning at or above expectation in all areas.
“I’m especially proud of the growth we saw as a district in mathematics last year,” he added. “Every school in the district saw an increase in the percentage of students proficient in mathematics. We are continuing to refine our English language arts instruction by utilizing additional resources in grades K-3 and enhancing instructional strategies in grades 4-12 this year to maintain our growth and continue to improve on student outcomes.”
Loudon County and Lenoir City saw gains in students who are ready to graduate and move beyond high school. Loudon County made the biggest jump of 10.5% over 2017 up to 45.7%. Lenoir City saw a 1.1 percent improvement up to 41.2%. The state average is 40.3%.
“Lenoir City’s continued focus on ensuring quality instruction at the high school level is evident in the number of students scoring a 21 or greater on the ACT,” Barker said. “We are currently growing our program options for Career and Technical Education courses. In doing so, we will open up additional avenues for students to earn various industry certifications and other early post secondary options. This focus will ensure we are growing students to be career and college ready.”
While Lenoir City saw an 3.9% increase in postsecondary enrollment to 64.6%, Loudon County dipped 1.4% to 61%. The state average is 63.2%.
“Our postsecondary enrollment dipped slightly by 1.4% to 61% as did the state average, but that coupled with the fact that we graduated more students with a high school diploma and 10 percent more students were considered ready graduates then it means three or four students chose a different path after high school than the year before, which could have been the military or other worthy endeavor,” Garren said. “The fact that we are graduating more students and more students are considered better equipped for college, regardless of the choice they make after high school, is the true metric we want to continue to improve. We are continually exposing students to college opportunities and will continue to increase that exposure moving forward so they know all the opportunities available to them.”
Both directors are pleased with the results.
“I’m extremely proud of the performance that our district showed this last year, and it is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our students and staff,” Garren said.
For more information on either school system’s report card, visit https://www.tn.gov/education/data/report-card.html.
“The overall results are reflective of a team effort to focus on the needs of our individual students,” Barker said. “Our trends are positive and we are continuing to refine the process to ensure we see the same gains again this year.”