MOUNT CARMEL — Last Friday faculty and students at Mount Carmel Elementary were notified that for the second time since 2012, the school has achieved the elite "Tennessee Reward School" distinction.
What's a Reward School?
Tennessee's 2017 Reward schools represent the top 5 percent of schools in academic achievement, and the top 5 percent for student growth from testing that occurred last spring at the end of the 2016-17 school year. Tennessee’s 169 Reward schools span 60 districts across the state.
Education Commissioner Candice McQueen said, “These schools represent what is possible for students in Tennessee as they exemplify excellence in performance or progress and in some cases both. We want to replicate this success across the state and continue to celebrate the hard work of our educators and students happening in classrooms every day."
Of the 2017 Reward schools, 59 — including Mount Carmel Elementary — are being recognized for academic performance, 85 are recognized for progress, and 25 are Reward schools both for performance and progress.
How did Mount Carmel Elementary do it?
There was no testing for grades 3-8 in 2015-16, so Mount Carmel wasn't eligible to be considered in the "Growth" category.
Principal Kelli Campbell noted, however, that MCES students showed substantial growth in science from the 2014-15 testing.
"We also showed growth in English/Language Arts (ELA)," Campbell said. "Of course, ELA is a new assessment, so we expected our scores to drop, as did a lot around the state, and actually our scores in ELA improved from 2014-15. We were very excited about that, given that it was a new assessment and much more rigorous than what we had been taking in the past."
Campbell added, "I attribute our success to our fabulous teachers and families and students, and it takes everybody working together to make this happen. We've done a lot of work with our curriculum and aligning our curriculum to the standards. Our teachers have put in a lot of hours. Our students have put in a lot of hard work. Our parents have been very supportive in helping their students be successful. The teamwork is probably the biggest factor."
How did they react to the news?
When Campbell received news from the state last Friday, she called an assembly in the gym and notified the student body, after which they had a little celebration that included dancing and popsicles. A more elaborate celebration is being planned, and they also hope to do something nice for MCES alums who took last year's test and are currently in the fifth grade at Church Hill Intermediate.
Hawkins County Director of Schools Steve Starnes noted that aside from being a Reward School in 2012, MCES was one of three nominees for the SCORE (State Collaborative for Reforming Education) Prize in 2013-2014.
“The designation as a Reward School is a tribute to the staff, parents and students of Mount Carmel Elementary School," Starnes said. "Kelli Campbell and her staff have continued a tradition of high expectations and high student achievement which has led to this honor. I want to commend them for their hard work and celebrate their accomplishment. We are very proud of them.”
Who else in the region was a Rewards School?
In the Upper Northeast Tennessee region, only University School in Johnson City earned the Reward distinction for both Performance and Progress.
Reward Schools for Performance: West Side Elementary in Elizabethton; Mount Carmel Elementary; Innovation Academy in Sullivan County; Haynesfield Elementary, Holston View Elementary, and Tennessee Online Public School in Bristol; and Fairmont Elementary and Towne Acres Elementary in Johnson City.
Reward Schools for Progress: Cloudland Elementary School and Hampton Elementary in Carter County; Mosheim Elementary, Ottway Elementary, and South Greene High School in Greene County; Central Heights Elementary and Colonial Heights Middle in Sullivan County; and West View School in Washington County.