Alcoa Elementary triples advanced, proficient students
By Matthew Stewart | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Alcoa Elementary School is producing academic gains, tripling last school year’s number of students who scored proficient and advanced on state tests.
Fifty Alcoa elementary-schoolers scored proficient and advanced on the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) Achievement Test last year, said Principal Merna Schott. Alcoa Elementary School had 154 students score proficient and advanced on this spring’s test.
School officials honored proficient and advanced students at a recent ceremony. They presented students who scored advanced in tested subject areas with a maroon T-shirt and presented students who scored proficient with a gray T-shirt.
“It was fun,” said fourth-grader Elijiah McCallie. “We were dancing to the music. It was great and makes all my work worth it.
“I worked very hard to get it, and I had to put in some extra time. I stayed after class a couple times.”
Fourth-grader Josie Swann received a gray T-shirt. She was advanced in every subject except math.
Swann plans to work harder this school year, so she can score advanced in all subject areas and earn a maroon T-shirt. “My teacher thinks I’ll be able to do it. So, I have no doubt that I’ll get it.”
Student recognition is a good way to encourage students to achieve better results, she said. “TCAPs are pretty tough. I don’t like being stuck in a chair for such a long time. However, it’s all worth it to get this T-shirt. I hope the kids who didn’t get a T-shirt will try to get one this year and work a little harder.”
Alcoa Elementary School has seen improvements during the past year, Schott said. “We were seeing improvements even before TCAPs. We’ve paired instructional changes with organizational ones.”
School officials have established common grade level planning, she said. Grade-level educators have five hours of planning together each week, in order to work on curriculum maps and rubrics.
The school is making strides for several additional reasons, including the new teacher evaluation system, Schott said. Alcoa City Schools is using the Teacher Instructional Growth for Effectiveness and Results (TIGER) model, which was developed by the Association of Independent and Municipal Schools.
The new evaluation has helped educators improve instruction, she said. “It moves teachers away from lecture and stresses active involvement. Students need to be engaged all the time. We’re student-driven, not teacher-driven.”
Alcoa Elementary School has also seen success with looping, an educational practice in which teachers and students remain together for at least two years, Schott said. “Looping has helped us hit the ground running each year, because teachers don’t have to spend as much time going over rules and procedures.”
The school’s math gains can be attributed to Bridges in Mathematics, Schott said. The full K-5 curriculum offers a blend of problem-solving and skill building.
“In the beginning, everybody was leery of it,” she said. “However, we trusted the plan and it worked.”