HCS Benchmark Testing Data - Haywood County Schools (2023)

February 22, 2022

|In Anderson Early Childhood Center, East Side Intermediate School, Haywood County Schools, Haywood Elementary School, Haywood Middle School, News, Sunny Hill Learning Center, The Stories of HCS

|By Tommie Rowell

(Video) HCS Board Meeting - November 3, 2022

When I taught middle school English, I would often talk about the word “narrative” and its meaning. When my students and I would read a story as a class, we would discuss the ways characters helped shape the narrative of the plot – what the characters did, said, and thought all helped shape how the story read. When we would write narrative essays in class, the essays were essentially real-life stories about experiences my students had at some point in their lives. In both fiction and non-fiction, narratives are shaped by the author; the author gets to choose a certain angle or perspective to take when telling a story. In real-life, however, narratives are shaped in a variety of ways by a variety of factors. And when those narratives take shape, it can be difficult to see another side of them even if those narratives are not totally accurate.

In the educational world, narratives have been formed about certain schools, certain districts, certain teachers, and even certain types of students. Once these narratives crystalize (regardless of accuracy), undoing them takes a Herculean effort.

Any story needs to have a central character or topic that drives it; a centering point out of which thoughts and opinions are formed and eventually regarded as truth after having been repeated over and over again. Since 2001, the centering point for narratives about education has been standardized testing data.

Each spring in Tennessee, students are given a test that is created by a private company based in London, England that supposedly measures how well students have learned the state educational standards over the course of a school year. These tests range anywhere from 30 – 90 minutes and contain three or four questions about each standard of a given subject. The next year, students take another test and are subsequently measured against the previous year’s data to see if the students learned at the rate at which they were predicted to learn. This process continues every year between the third and eighth grades. The data from these tests is also used to measure whether or not districts are “succeeding” or “failing”. When the data from these tests is released nearly four months after the tests are completed and students are well into the next school year, narratives begin to be formed about whether or not that given school district is “good” or “successful”. After a few years of scores that may not match the scores of other districts across the state, certain districts are labeled as “bad” or “ineffective”. The narratives begin to be crystalized.

Since the emphasis on test data took shape nearly twenty years ago, school ranking websites – sometimes partnering with real estate companies – have popped up all over the internet using test data to label districts as successful or unsuccessful. Nearly all education experts decry the use of standardized test data as the centering point for school rankings, yet the public consumption of that presentation of data doesn’t wane; it only strengthens the false narrative that standardized testing data is the be all/end all of a school’s or district’s effectiveness.

In Tennessee, the tests used to determine the state’s report card in regards to a school district’s learning effectiveness are collectively known as TNReady with the TCAP test given in grades 3-8 and carrying the most weight for a district because it involves the most grades tested.

While Haywood County Schools does see the value in standardized test scores as a helpful tool to tell the story of learning, we also realize that it is only one part of the puzzle and cannot accurately measure the consistent learning that takes place throughout a school year. Students and teachers must be held accountable for learning but that measurement should not take place once a year, over a two-week time period. Learning is a constant process and should be measured in various ways. In educational jargon, this is when the words “formative” and “summative” would be employed, but it’s best to stay away from insider vocabulary when shaping this particular narrative.

Because learning is a constant process, learning should be measured consistently and through various means. HCS measures students’ learning in reading and math by using two primary assessments three different times during the school year: the fall, the winter, and the spring.

The two assessments that are used in HCS are the AimsWeb assessment and the I-Ready assessment.

The AimsWeb assessment measures skills such as phonetic reading and comprehension skills in reading. In math, the AimsWeb assessment measures general problem solving skills used in mathematics. The AimsWeb tests tell a district whether or not the students are reading and solving math problems on grade level and whether or not they are progressing in those skills throughout the year. This test does not necessarily correlate with the standardized tests given by the state in April, it does, however, show the rate at which learning is taking place in the classroom and in schools across the district.

The I-Ready assessment, however, does measure the standards that are being taught in the classroom. This assessment does not necessarily measure skills in math and reading, but measures how well students are grasping the concepts being taught in reading and math, And while the assessment itself does not replicate the TCAP test, the questions and texts are formatted in a similar manner.

Using these two assessments, HCS can form a clearer picture of how much students are learning and progressing in a given school year by comparing the data multiple times across one school year instead of comparing data that is recorded a full year apart, which is the process of the state test.

As we dive into this data from each school, we want to acknowledge a few things:

  1. HCS recognizes that there is much more learning that needs to be done in regards to overall reading and math levels.
  2. HCS is aware of the effects of learning loss that occurred over the last two school years due to COVID-19. The effects of this can be seen in our fall benchmark scores.
  3. We are seeing tremendous amounts of growth that we confidently believe will also be seen on the state tests in April. That being said, we want to make sure our students are continuing to learn what they need to learn to be successful adults. We will never define them by a score or number.
  4. In order to simplify the process of dissecting this data, we will only look at two groups on each test for this article: students who are at or above grade level and students who are below grade level and how the movement of those students is being seen across the district.
  5. Each school set goals based on their fall test scores that they wanted to meet by the end of the year.

Anderson Early Childhood Center (Kindergarten)

AimsWeb – Reading

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  • On the fall test, AECC had 62 kindergarten students reading on or above grade level.
  • On the winter test, AECC increased that number to 79 kindergarten students reading on or above grade level.
  • They have set a goal of having 109 students reading on or above grade level by the end of the year.
  • On the fall test, AECC had 82 students reading well below grade level
  • On the winter test, AECC had reduced that number to 56 students.
  • They have set a goal of reducing the 82 from the fall to 45 by the end of the year. They are only 11 students away from that goal.

AimsWeb – Math

  • On the fall test, AECC had 71 students on or above grade level in math.
  • On the winter test, AECC had increased that number to 110 students on or above grade level.
  • They have set a goal of having 125 students on or above grade level in math by the end of the year.
  • On the fall test, AECC had 54 students well below grade level in math concepts.
  • On the winter test, AECC had reduced that number to 38 students.
  • They have set a goal of reducing the 54 students from the fall to 27 by the end of the year. They are only 11 students away from that goal.

I-Ready – Reading

  • On the fall test, AECC had 25 students reading at or above grade level on I-Ready.
  • On the winter test, AECC increased that number to 87 students.
  • They have set a goal of having 108 students reading on or above grade level on I-Ready by the end of the year.

I-Ready – Math

  • On the fall test, AECC had 25 students on or above grade level in math.
  • On the winter test, AECC increased that number to 80 students.
  • They have set a goal of having 108 students on or above grade level in math on I-Ready by the end of the year.

*The progress being made at AECC is very substantial and extremely encouraging. Programs such as The Reader/Writer Project and Co-Instructional practices have helped support students academically. The emphasis of importance being placed on early literacy is also proving to show massive academic gains in our young learners. The trajectory of learning taking place at AECC is what any district would want to see with its kindergarten students.

Haywood Elementary School (1-2 Grades)

AimsWeb – Reading – 1st Grade

  • On the fall test, HES had 22 students reading on or above grade level.
  • On the winter test, HES increased that number to 34 students reading on or above grade level.
  • They have set a goal of having 108 students reading on or above grade level by the end of the year.
  • On the fall test, HES had 67 students reading well below grade level.
  • On the winter test, HES had reduced that number to 53 students reading below grade level.
  • They have set (and met) a goal of having 54 students reading well below grade level by the end of the year.

AimsWeb – Math – 1st Grade

  • On the fall test, HES had 30 students on or above grade level in math.
  • On the winter test, HES had increased that number to 45 students on or above grade level in math.
  • They have set a goal of having 117 students on or above grade level in math by the end of the year.
  • On the fall test, HES had 50 students well below grade level in math.
  • On the winter test, HES had reduced that number to 32.
  • They have set (and met) a goal of having 36 students well below grade level by the end of the year.

I-Ready – Reading – 1st Grade

  • On the fall test, HES had 13 students reading at or above grade level on I-Ready.
  • On the winter test, HES had increased that number to 36 students reading at or above grade level on I-Ready.
  • They have set a goal of having 81 students reading at or above grade level on I-Ready by the end of the year.
  • On the fall test, HES had 27 students reading two grade levels below grade level.
  • On the winter test, HES had reduced that number to only 6 students reading two grade levels below grade level.
  • They have set (and met) a goal of having 9 students reading two grade levels below grade level.

I-Ready – Math – 1st Grade

  • On the fall test, HES had 7 students at or above grade level in math.
  • On the winter test, HES had increased that number to 32 students on or above grade level in math.
  • They have set a goal of having 90 students on or above grade level in math.
  • On the fall test, HES had 31 students two grade levels below their current grade level in math.
  • On the winter test, HES had reduced that number to 15 students who were two grade levels below their current grade level in math.
  • They have set (and met) a goal of having 27 students two grade levels below their current grade level in math by the end of the year.

AimsWeb – Reading – 2nd Grade

  • On the fall test, HES had 24 students reading on or above grade level.
  • On the winter test, HES had increased that number to 33 students reading on or above grade level.
  • They have set a goal of having 110 students reading on or above grade level by the end of the year.
  • On the fall test, HES had 63 students reading well below grade level.
  • On the winter test, HES had reduced that number to 55.
  • They have set (and met) a goal of having 62 students reading well below grade level by the end of the year.

AimsWeb – Math – 2nd Grade

  • On the fall test, HES had 21 students on or above grade level in math.
  • On the winter test, HES had increased that number to 34 students on or above grade level in math.
  • They have set a goal of having 130 students on or above grade level by the end of the year.
  • On the fall test, HES had 56 students well below grade level in math.
  • On the winter test, HES had reduced that number to 47 students well below grade level in math.
  • They have set a goal of having 40 students well below grade level by the end of the year.

I-Ready – Reading – 2nd Grade

  • On the fall test, HES had 18 students on or above grade level in reading.
  • On the winter test, HES had increased that number to 34 students on or above grade level in reading.
  • They have set a goal of having 110 students on or above grade level by the end of the year.
  • On the fall test, HES had 113 students two grade levels below their current grade level in reading.
  • On the winter test, HES had reduced that number to 83 students two grade levels below their current grade level in reading.
  • They have set a goal of having 10 students two grade levels below their current grade level in reading by the end of the year.

I-Ready – Math – 2nd Grade

  • On the fall test, HES had 7 students on or above grade level in math.
  • On the winter test, HES had increased that number to 17 students on or above grade level in math.
  • They have set a goal of having 110 students on or above grade level in math by the end of the year.
  • On the fall test, HES had 98 students two grades below their current grade level in math.
  • On the winter test, HES had decreased that number to 73 students who were two grades below their grade level in math.
  • They have set a goal of having 20 students two grades below their grade level in math by the end of the year.

*The effects of two interrupted years of learning due to COVID-19 are really seen in this data, specifically with second grade students. For these students, this year is their first full year of learning since they’ve been in school. While this year has had its own obstacles, students have been physically in class for an entire year at this point. HES has grown all of its students – students at or above grade level as well as students well below grade level – and this is very encouraging. The most substantial piece of this data, however, is the way HES is recovering learning loss in students who were below grade level. In order for students to have eventual success, sometimes learning loss has to be recovered. Consistent learning growth among all students is what education really is, and HES is showing that growth across the board.

East Side Elementary School (3-4 grades)

(Video) HCS Board Meeting - September 12, 2022

AimsWeb – Reading – Third Grade

  • On the fall test, ESE had 83 students reading on or above grade level.
  • On the winter test, ESE had increased that number to 101 students reading on or above grade level.
  • They have set a goal of having 111 students reading on or above grade level by the end of the year.
  • On the fall test, ESE had 97 students reading well below grade level.
  • On the winter test, ESE had reduced that number to 79.
  • They have set a goal of 50 students reading well below grade level by the end of the year.

AimsWeb – Math – Third Grade

  • On the fall test, ESE had 72 students on or above grade level in math.
  • On the winter test, ESE had increased that number to 87 students on or above grade level in math.
  • They have set a goal of having 111 students on or above grade level in math by the end of the year.
  • On the fall test, ESE had 89 students well below grade level in math.
  • On the winter test, ESE had reduced that number to 88 students well below grade level in math.
  • They have set a goal of having 50 students well below grade level by the end of the year in math.

I-Ready – Reading – Third Grade

  • On the fall test, ESE had 22% of its students reading on or above grade level.
  • On the winter test, ESE had increased that number to 36% of its students reading on or above grade level.
  • They have set a goal of having 50% of students reading on or above grade level by the end of the year.
  • On the fall test, ESE had 58% of its students reading two grade levels below their current grade level.
  • On the winter test, ESE had reduced that number to 38% reading two grade levels below their current grade level.
  • They have set a goal of having 20% of their students reading two grade levels below their current grade level by the end of the year.

I-Ready – Math – Third Grade

  • On the fall test, ESE had 3% of its students on or above grade level in math.
  • On the winter test, ESE increased that number to 17% of its students on or above grade level in math.
  • They have set a goal of having 50% of its students on or above grade level in math by the end of the year.
  • On the fall test, ESE had 50% of its students two grade levels below their current grade level in math.
  • On the winter test, ESE had decreased that number to 35% of its students who were two grade levels below their current grade level in math.
  • They have set a goal of having 15% of their students two grade levels below their current grade level in math by the end of the year.

AimsWeb – Reading – Fourth Grade

  • On the fall test, ESE had 70 students reading on or above grade level.
  • On the winter test, ESE increased that number to 95 students reading on or above grade level.
  • They have set a goal of having 115 students reading on or above grade level by the end of the year.
  • On the fall test, ESE had 77 students reading well below grade level.
  • On the winter test, ESE had reduced that number to 61 students reading well below grade level.
  • They have set a goal of 38 students reading well below grade level by the end of the year.

AimsWeb – Math – Fourth Grade

  • On the fall test, ESE had 63 students on or above grade level in math.
  • On the winter test, ESE had increased that number to 78 students on or above grade level in math.
  • They have set a goal of 96 students on or above grade level in math by the end of the year.
  • On the fall test, ESE had 93 students well below grade level in math.
  • On the winter test, ESE had reduced that number to 73 students well below grade level in math.
  • They have set a goal of having 48 students well below grade level in math by the end of the year.

I-Ready – Reading – Fourth Grade

  • On the fall test, ESE had 10% of its students reading on or above grade level.
  • On the winter test, ESE had increased that number to 16% of its students reading on or above grade level.
  • They have set a goal of having 55% of students reading on or above grade level by the end of the year.
  • On the fall test, ESE had 55% of its students reading two grade levels below their current grade level.
  • On the winter test, ESE had reduced that number to 43% of its students reading two grade levels below their current grade level.
  • They have set a goal of having 25% of its students reading two grade levels below their current grade level by the end of the year.

I-Ready – Math – Fourth Grade

  • On the fall test, ESE had 5% of its students on or above grade level in math.
  • On the winter test, ESE had increased that number to 9% on or above grade level in math.
  • They have set a goal of having 40% of students on or above grade level in math by the end of the year.
  • On the fall test, ESE had 59% of its students two grade levels below their current grade level in math.
  • On the winter test, ESE reduced that number to 51% of students two grade levels below their current grade level in math.
  • They have set a goal of having 25% of their students two grade levels below their current grade level in math by the end of the year.

*Much like Haywood Elementary School, East Side Elementary school showed consistent growth among all groups. They increased their number of students on or above grade level in both math and reading by a wide margin. They recovered learning loss at a considerable rate among students who were below and well below grade level in reading and math.

Sunny Hill Intermediate School (5-6 Grades)

AimsWeb – Reading – 5th Grade

  • On the fall test, SHIS had 97 students reading on or above grade level.
  • On the winter test, SHIS increased that number to 121 students reading on or above grade level.
  • On the fall test, SHIS had 63 students reading well below grade level.
  • On the winter test, SHIS had reduced that number to 44 students reading well below grade level.

AimsWeb – Reading – 6th Grade

  • On the fall test, SHIS had 89 students reading on or above grade level.
  • On the winter test, SHIS had 79 students reading on or above grade level.
  • On the fall test, SHIS had 43 students reading well below grade level.
  • On the winter test, SHIS had 43 students reading well below grade level.

I-Ready – Reading – 5th Grade

  • On the fall test, SHIS had 16 students reading on or above grade level
  • On the winter test, SHIS had increased that number to 32 students reading on or above grade level.
  • On the fall test, SHIS had 74 students reading two grades below grade level.
  • On the winter test, SHIS had reduced that number to 68 students reading two grades below grade level.

I-Ready – Reading – 6th Grade

  • On the fall test, SHIS had 21 students reading on or above grade level
  • On the winter test, SHIS had increased that number to 24 students reading on or above grade level.
  • On the fall test, SHIS had 22 students reading two grade levels below their current grade level.
  • On the winter test, SHIS had 26 students reading two grade levels below their current grade level.

I-Ready – Math – 5th Grade

(Video) HCS Board Meeting - February 15, 2022

  • On the fall test, SHIS had 7 students on or above grade level in math.
  • On the winter test, SHIS increased that number to 14 students on or above grade level in math.
  • On the fall test, SHIS had 40 students two grade levels below their current grade level in math.
  • On the winter test, SHIS had reduced that number to 38 students two grade levels below their current grade level

*SHIS showed growth in most areas of reading by increasing the number of students who were reading on or above grade level. They also showed growth in the same manner in math. These trends are very encouraging. SHIS also showed recovery in learning loss among students who were two grade levels below their current grade level in both reading and math.

Haywood Middle School (7-8 Grades)

AimsWeb – Reading – 7th Grade

  • On the fall test, HMS had 124 students reading on or above grade level.
  • On the winter test, HMS had 110 students reading on or above grade level.
  • They have set a goal of having 136 students reading on or above grade level by the end of the year.
  • On the fall test, HMS had 32 students reading well below grade level.
  • On the winter test, HMS had 42 students reading well below grade level.
  • They have set a goal of having 15 students reading well below grade level by the end of the year.

AimsWeb – Math – 7th Grade

  • On the fall test, HMS had 65 students on or above grade level in math.
  • On the winter test, HMS increased that number to 82 students on or above grade level in math.
  • They have set (and met) a goal of having 80 students on or above grade level in math by the end of the year.
  • On the fall test, HMS had 93 students well below grade level in math.
  • On the winter test, HMS reduced that number to 73 students well below grade level in math.
  • They have set a goal of having 60 students well below grade level in math by the end of the year.

I-Ready – Reading – 7th Grade

  • On the fall test, HMS had 30 students at or above grade level in reading.
  • On the winter test, HMS increased that number to 41 students reading on or above grade level.
  • They have set a goal to have 50 students reading on or above grade level by the end of the year.

I-Ready – Math – 7th Grade

  • On the fall test, HMS had 25 students on or above grade level in math.
  • On the winter test, HMS increased that number to 42 students on or above grade level in math.
  • They have set a goal of having 49 students on or above grade level in math by the end of the year.

AimsWeb – Reading – 8th Grade

  • On the fall test, HMS had 115 students reading on or above grade level.
  • On the winter test, HMS had 110 students reading on or above grade level.
  • They have set a goal of having 125 students reading on or above grade level by the end of the year.
  • On the fall test, HMS had 48 students reading well below grade level.
  • On the winter test, HMS reduced that number to 35 students reading well below grade level.
  • They have set a goal of having 15 students reading well below grade level by the end of the year.

AimsWeb – Math – 8th Grade

  • On the fall test, HMS had 70 students on or above grade level in math.
  • On the winter test, HMS increased that number to 75 students on or above grade level in math.
  • They have set a goal of having 85 students on or above grade level in math by the end of the year.
  • On the fall test, HMS had 69 students well below grade level in math.
  • On the winter test, HMS had 72 students well below grade level in math.
  • They have set a goal of having 54 students well below grade level in math by the end of the year.

I-Ready – Reading – 8th Grade

  • On the fall test, HMS had 25 students reading on or above grade level.
  • On the winter test, HMS increased that number to 42 students reading on or above grade level.
  • They have set a goal of having 49 students reading on or above grade level by the end of the year.

I-Ready – Math – 8th Grade

  • On the fall test, HMS had 7 students on or above grade level in math.
  • On the winter test, HMS had 10 students on or above grade level in math.
  • They have set a goal of having 42 students on or above grade level in math by the end of the year.

*Haywood Middle School had a very high number of students reading on or above grade level on the AimsWeb test on the fall benchmark. When numbers are that high, it is difficult to see a lot of growth, though decreasing the number of students who are on grade level in reading is something that no one wants to see. Middle school can be a volatile age when it comes to learning and life in general, so data tends to reflect that as well. Like the other schools in HCS, HMS did a great job in recovering learning loss and making up ground in the number of students who were below grade level. That growth is vital for future learning.

There is undeniable evidence that learning is taking place in HCS across all levels and grade bands. There is also undeniable evidence that COVID-19 had an immense impact on learning. The recovery of that learning loss is taking place, but will be a long process as we continue to deal with the long lasting effects of the pandemic. While the above information is an enormous amount of data to process, the main takeaway is that our students are growing and some schools are showing exponential growth in both math and reading

Narratives can be difficult to change if those narratives have been repeated ad nauseam. Out of all the data that has been collected and presented, two truths are evident: there is a room for more learning to take place in HCS and there are substantial gains being made across the district in both reading and math. This school year is a pivotal year in recovering learning loss because this year is the first full school year since the 2018-2019 school year. All of our schools are showing significant progress in math and reading on both tests. Learning is taking place in all of our schools, but some schools and grades are learning at faster rates than others.

Narratives are not changed overnight or even over the course of a few months. Narratives are changed over substantial lengths of time with consistent and reliable proof to undergird that narrative. In the end, HCS are responsible to our students and their families above anyone else, and our priority is to serve and educate our students so that they can have every option and opportunity available to them.

While we are encouraged by this data, we know it’s only a marker in time and the work will continue year after year. Our students are learning, but we’re not stopping here.

(Video) School Board Work Session for October 6, 2016 Haywood County Schools, NC

Videos

1. School Board Meeting for January 2014 (Haywood County Schools, NC)
(HCS Media)
2. HCS Board of Education Meeting - October 11, 2021
(HCS Media)
3. July 2022 HCS Board Meeting
(Haywood County Schools - TN)
4. HCS Board Meeting - March 14, 2022
(HCS Media)
5. HCS Board Work Session - December 09, 2021
(HCS Media)
6. School Board Meeting for February 2013 (Haywood County Schools, NC)
(HCS Media)
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