Archives for July 2014

Metro students show continued growth in nearly every subject

Official release from MNPS Communications Office:

Achievement gaps, overall growth all better than state averages

Building on strong momentum, Metro students continued to grow academically in 2013-14, placing the district in the “Achieve” category for overall growth in student achievement.

Elementary school test scores were up in every subject, with students growing at an even faster rate than the state average. In the four years since Tennessee adopted higher academic standards, elementary students have made big gains in all three subjects.

High school students improved in four out of six subjects in 2013-14, with particularly strong growth in English I and English II where gains almost doubled the state average. Four-year trends show growth in every subject, with double-digit growth in three subjects.

“Thanks to the hard word of our students and the dedication of our teachers, the district strategies we’ve developed are working,” said Director of Schools Dr. Jesse Register. “Now we must maintain this momentum. Our teachers and our students have worked too hard to slow down now. We have many of the pieces in place and they are paying off for our students.”

Metro Schools also made good progress in closing achievement gaps, but hard work must continue to close them further. Still, district achievement gaps are now smaller than the state average in every category. In such a diverse district, this is of the utmost importance.

All but one of the student subgroups improved in at least half of the achievement measures in 2013-14. The only group to miss this target was the Asian subgroup, which missed it by just eight students. Because of this, Metro Schools is in the “In Need of Improvement for Asian Students” category for achievement gap closure.

“We always love to see growth, particularly the huge gains we’ve made since 2010, but none of us is satisfied yet,” said Dr. Register. “We want our students achieving at the highest possible level and know how important each year is to their success. We have clear district strategies that are making a difference and will propel us to be the highest performing urban district in the country by 2018.”

Two areas that clearly need immediate attention are English III and Algebra I in high schools and reading/language arts in elementary schools. The stage is set for aggressive growth in these and other areas with these strategies and many others:

  • Pre-kindergarten for all children who want or need it by 2018
    By expanding pre-kindergarten for all families, we can start building a solid foundation for academic success at an earlier age. This will pay off in the future as students are more prepared for the grades ahead.
  • Personalized learning for every student every day in elementary and middle schools
    In grades K-8, every student will get 30-60 minutes of personalized instruction every day. That includes intervention for students who need it, enrichment for high achievers and reinforcement of learned skills for others. This will particularly help reading scores catch up to the big growth seen in math and science.
  • More technology, family involvement and focused teacher support for English learners (EL)
    Students with limited English proficiency will have greater support in the classroom, including language support groups during personalized learning time and more technology integration. This year there will be a specific focus on literacy training for teachers of EL students and general EL training for teachers who work in high EL populations. Parent outreach and involvement will also be priorities.
  • Greater student engagement in learning through hands-on projects
    Metro middle schools are now working harder to engage students in learning through hands-on projects. This practical – and fun – application of skills helps students retain and have a deeper understanding of the skills they learn in class. It is working in our high schools and will work in middle schools, too.
  • Wider identification and enrollment in advanced programs to nurture academic talent
    Efforts are already underway to expand the reach of our early gifted programs to underrepresented groups of students like English learners and the economically disadvantaged. We have seen huge growth in the number of high school students taking advanced classes like AP, as well as middle school students seeking high school credit.
  • Intelligent school budgeting that supports individual student needs
    School-based budgeting is now in 55 Metro schools, including all traditional middle and high schools. This gives principals the freedom to spend money where it can improve student achievement the most. Principals and teachers know best what their students need and should have the power of the purse strings to see those needs met.

Challenges
High school English III and Algebra I are particular challenges because the district’s push for greater advanced academic participation.

The highest achieving students often take Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or other advanced English classes and are therefore not allowed to take the EOC exam. In 2013-14, more than 700 juniors took one of these advanced English classes instead of English III. It is thrilling to see this many high school students reaching higher and stretching themselves academically, but it also makes English III scores that much more difficult to raise.

Similarly, 2012-13 saw a spike in the number of eighth grade students taking Algebra I – 500 more students – which means they did not take it again in the ninth grade in 2013-14. Because the EOC exam only counts grades nine through 12, again many of the district’s brightest students were excluded from this high school measure. Both of these issues could continue to appear as the district further expands advanced academic opportunities, but clearly more emphasis needs to be placed on helping students in regular and honors English III and Algebra I.

Moving Beyond TCAP
One of the most needed changes that has yet to come is the test itself. TCAP is not an accurate measure of the instruction happening in the district every day. Now entering the fourth year of Common Core implementation, Metro students and teachers are operating at a different level than multiple-choice tests like TCAP. They are not aligned with the standards.

“We need an aligned assessment, and we’re willing to be a test site for the new assessment the state chooses,” said Dr. Register. “TCAP is a snapshot of how a student performs on one day out of the year. We need an assessment that better informs teachers of student learning throughout the year.”

The new class of third graders in Metro Schools has been taught the new standards since starting school in kindergarten. Next May, they will take TCAP tests that are not aligned with the only standards they have ever been taught.

The “Art” of Education

Strong relationships with local academy partners is the key to building effective business engagement in our high schools. The Academies of Nashville provide students with meaningful, hands-on learning in context through unique partnerships with local businesses, non-profit organizations, and government agencies. The Teacher Team Externship Program gives teachers an opportunity to have a real-world professional experience at a host organization to develop a project-based curriculum that gives students industry exposure and applied learning. Teachers from Glencliff High School had the opportunity to have an externship with their business partner, the Parthenon, the Metro Arts Commission, and Earl Swensson Associates. 

Metro Arts Bicycle Rack

The teacher externship team and the Glencliff Academy Coach were introduced to the concept that art can come in many forms. Here, the group poses with the artistic bicycle racks outside of the Lentz Public Health Center.

The Glencliff High School Freshman Academy team consisted of Jessica Abarquez, Tara Worthey, and Linda Wynkoop.  We visited The Parthenon, the Metro Arts Commission, and Earl Swensson Associates.  We loved seeing how people took different pathways to their careers.  This perspective will help us in guiding students towards their own pathways.  Since the name of our project is called “My Personal Odyssey,” it is our hope that students will leave their ninth grade year with a strong sense of direction regarding the rest of their high school career.  All of the places we visited showed us different aspects of career planning.

Metro Arts Hospital Installment

Artwork is constantly changed and rotated through Nashville through the Metro Arts Commission. Here, a new piece of artwork is being installed in the Lentz Center.

Academies Showcased at National Governor’s Association Meeting

This past week, Governor’s from across the country joined together at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville for the National Governor’s Association’s (NGA) 106th Summer Meeting. While there were a number of highlights from the annual meeting including a session with Vice President Joe Biden and private concerts from some of country music’s greatest, Nashville was showcased for more than it’s hospitality.

Academy Ambassadors were a part of the National Governor's Association presentation. Students showcased their individual academies and projects developed.

Academy Ambassadors were a part of the National Governor’s Association presentation. Students showcased their individual academies and projects developed.

McGavock High School Principal, Robbin Wall, and business partner, Lucia Folk from CMT, were invited to the Education and Workforce Committee on Friday to present about the Academies of Nashville. The Education and Workforce Committee has jurisdiction over issues in the area of education (including childhood, K-12, and postsecondary) as well as in the area of workforce development. Members of the committee ensure that the governor’s views are represented in the shaping of federal policy. Members of the committee heard about the transformation in teaching and learning, high school redesign, and business and civic engagement in Metro Nashville Public Schools since the Academies of Nashville began.  Watch Wall and Folk’s presentation below.

http://youtu.be/Mystop0NxUQ

Student Summer Plans: Taking College Classes and Building Bridges

A student at Stratford STEM Magnet High School in the Academy of Science and Engineering  had the opportunity to attend the National Summer Transportation Institute at Tennessee State University.

 

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Lt. Col. John L. Hudson, Commander of the Nashville District talks with students attending the National Summer Transportation Institute program on a variety of engineering classes and current district projects during a lecture on the campus of Tennessee State University. (Photo by Mark Rankin)

This summer, I attended a pre-college program known as the National Summer Transportation Institute, or NSTI, at Tennessee State University. The program focused on the various majors in engineering. I stayed on campus for a month and attended three classes: Engineering 101, Math, and English/ Critical Thinking. The information that was given in a college setting changed my perspective on engineering. Previously, I thought engineering was a simple career that anyone can do, but after attending the program I learned it’s a very complex career that requires high attention to detail and strong mathematical skills.

Participating in the National Summer Transportation Institute taught me to think about decisions more analytically. Analytical thinking is all about problem solving. In order to find a solution to a problem, I break the situation down into smaller parts and reach my answers through facts and logic. The groups at NSTI were assigned to design and construct a bridge. First, we drew a sketch of what we wanted the bridge to look like, including the bridge’s height, width, and length. Next, we got a hold of the materials. We used Styrofoam for the roads, two wooden pillars, a wooden plank for the base, two Styrofoam circles, and nylon strings for the suspension. Keeping the bridge suspended and leveled were our biggest challenges. We placed the circles on top of the pillars giving it the name, “Halo Bridge.” Overall, the program was beneficial to my education and I had a great time!

 

 

CSI: Stratford STEM Magnet High School

Strong relationships with local academy partners is the key to building effective business engagement in our high schools. The Academies of Nashville provide students with meaningful, hands-on learning in context through unique partnerships with local businesses, non-profit organizations, and government agencies. The Teacher Team Externship Program gives teachers an opportunity to have a real-world professional experience at a host organization to develop a project-based curriculum that gives students industry exposure and applied learning. Teachers from Stratford STEM Magnet High School had the opportunity to have an externship with their business partner, the Metro Nashville Police Department. 

 

Untitled As Criminal Justice students at Stratford learn, “M.O.M.” is the acronym for MOTIVE, OPPORTUNITY and MEANS“M.O.M.” is a common formula used in criminal investigations, forensic analysis of evidence, and investigative case management.

In this case, the MOTIVE of our externship was to allow the Stratford staff to gain a real world hands on experience that would enable them to collaborate on the development of a project based learning model that will be implemented on a school-wide basis during for the school year.

In this case, the OPPORTUNITY existed because the Metro Nashville Police Department is a strong business partner with Stratford and a valuable supporter of its extensive Criminal Justice program, especially the Student Criminal Justice Cadet Corps.  Certainly, this unique opportunity would not have been possible without the guidance and support of Stratford STEM Magnet School Resource Officer McCormick, East Precinct Commander Imhof, and MNPS Public Information Manager, Don Aaron.

In this case, the MEANS was accomplished by imbedding the Stratford staff at the Police Training Academy, the Forensic Laboratory, and the Executive Management COMSTAT meeting.  This intense participation enabled the teachers and managers to better understand the best ways to prepare Stratford STEM Magnet High School students for a career in criminal justice, corrections, and law.

Untitled 2 Highlights at the Training Academy consisted of learning how the Police serve our community with pride and professionalism.  A detailed overview of their hiring process including qualifications, experience, and education requirements.  This will assist the Stratford staff in identifying the best goals and objectives for the students, and what is realistically required to be competitive in a criminal justice career.  A briefing of the student internship program which provides an opportunity to observe and work in various units of the police department such as Records Division, Identification Unit, Secondary Employment Unit, Domestic Violence Unit, Criminal Investigations Division, Case Preparation Division etc. Students will learn about the departments staffing, mission, activities, records, and services.  In addition, the Stratford staff received an extensive tour of the training facilities, K-9, defensive driving, aviation, and firearms programs.

Highlights at the Forensic Laboratory consisted of tours of the DNA Serology Unit, Drug Identification Unit, Latent Finger Print Unit, Firearms Unit, Tool Mark Unit, and Toxicology Unit. A detailed briefing about how the forensic analysis of evidence is critical to the successful identification and prosecution of criminals. The Stratford staff was especially interested in how the evidence analysis report is documented and how it is used during the judicial process. The Stratford staff learned that they must prepare their students to master attention to detail, provide concise documentation, observe strict laboratory protocol, exhibit dedication to duty, and service to community.

Untitled 3 Highlights of the Executive Management Command staff consisted of attending and observing an Executive Briefing on Computer Statistics aka Compstat, an effective, adaptable and flexible management model or paradigm utilized by Metro Police Command. Compstat has been applied with great success in controlling crime and disorder.

Let’s Talk Trash

Strong relationships with local academy partners is the key to building effective business engagement in our high schools. The Academies of Nashville provide students with meaningful, hands-on learning in context through unique partnerships with local businesses, non-profit organizations, and government agencies. The Teacher Team Externship Program gives teachers an opportunity to have a real-world professional experience at a host organization to develop a project-based curriculum that gives students industry exposure and applied learning. Teachers from Antioch High School’s Freshman Academy had the opportunity to have an externship with their business partners Deloitte, Nissan, the Tennessee Federal Credit Union, and Holiday Inn. 

 

During the third week of June, our team participated in an externship with Nissan, Holiday Inn, Deloitte, and the Tennessee Credit Union. At Nissan we had the chance to see a great presentation on going green by Pat Vickers. We also took a tour through the plant to see the making of Nissan vehicles. We then shifted gears to visit Holiday Inn. We were able to explore every aspect of hospitality. We were able to visit the sales department, engineering, front desk, human resources, the restaurant, and housekeeping. When we visited Deloitte, we had an awesome learning experience. Did you know Deloitte employs more than 65,000 people! While at Deloitte, we took a tour of the building and spoke with employees from different departments. Our favorite was the Telesuite. The Telesuite is used to meet with other Deloitte offices worldwide. This really eliminates travel expenses and time. Our final stop of the externship was the Tennessee Credit Union. While visiting, we learning the history of the credit union and why/ how our credit union is an important source of community funding.

The business partners were inspiring and impactful during our entire visit. Their willingness to take an afternoon out of their busy schedule to host us was very inspiring. We found that regardless of how many questions we asked, they made sure that we were answered thoroughly and thoughtfully. We truly appreciated all the time they allowed us.

Out of this experience, we are developing a PBL called #talkingtrash. At each location we learning the cost effectiveness of sustainability and facts about recycling. We were inspired to use environmental data from our local community and impress upon the students the need to adopt sustainability as a philosophical choice. Currently, Antioch High School does not have a sustainable recycling center. We hope through this PBL, our students will be able to create a sustainable school environment.