Hawkins BOE sets 'high benchmarks' in five year strategic plan

Jeff Bobo • Jan 16, 2018 at 1:48 PM

ROGERSVILLE — The Hawkins County Board of Education established some "high benchmarks" in approving its five-year Strategic Plan last week, but it's already within close range of meeting several academic goals.

The Strategic Plan lists goals and benchmarks for Hawkins County Schools to achieve in every facet of operations, such as facility maintenance, faculty and staff development and energy conservation, to name a few.

But it was academic goals that Director of Schools Steve Starnes spent the most time discussing during the BOE's Jan. 9 meeting when the Strategic Plan came up for approval.

The four main goals in Hawkins County Schools’ Strategic Plan:

1. Increase rigor for tier 1 instruction in reading, math and science.

Starnes noted, "This current year, schools will be measured on the success rate for English, math and science, so we want to increase the rigor and make sure we're challenging students so they can score on-track and proficient on state tests and the ACT.

2. Match the state goal of 75 percent of third-grade students being proficient on the TN Ready assessment by 2025.

3. Focus on the Response to Intervention (RTI) program.

Starnes: "Make sure students who aren't on pace or who have specific deficits in their learning — that we're doing a really good job of catching them up through intervention."

4. Raising the ACT composite average score to 21.

The Strategic Plan was approved by a vote of 5-0 with two absent.

Prior to the vote, BOE Chairman Bob Larkins said, "I do think it's a high benchmark for us to strive for, but I think it's one that is doable, and it will be exciting to meet those objectives."

How does the Strategic Plan address state testing?

There were no state testing results from 2016. With 2017 being the first year for the new more rigorous TN Ready state test, these first results showed where improvement is needed.

As a result, Starnes said his team that worked on the Strategic Plan set academic goals to meet state averages within year three and exceed the state average within year five.

Now that the 2017 scores are in, they have a benchmark to work from, and in many categories, students are already close to meeting that three-year goal, particularly in district-wide scoring.

The three score certifications discussed in the Strategic Plan are “Approaching,” “On-Track” and “Mastered”.

Overall, 34.6 percent of Hawkins County students scored either On-Track or Mastered, compared to the state average of 34.7 percent.

Starnes said, "One of the things that's exciting, if you'll look at the Approaching category, we have 46.7 percent of our students Approaching, so we're very excited about the possibility of moving those students into the On-Track category.”

Here's a breakdown of other first year TN Ready scores from 2017 by grade level:

Grades 3-5 ELA (English language arts): Met the state average of 34 percent either On-Track or Mastered, and 47 percent Approaching. Starnes said high Approaching statistics means excellent opportunity for improvement.

Grades 6-8 ELA: With 27 percent either On-Track or Mastered, they missed the state average of 34 percent. But with 54 Approaching, Starnes said, "We feel like we're going to do some movement there and put some steps in place to address that area."

Fifth-grade math: 32.5 percent On-Track or Mastered, below the state's 38.2 percent but exceeded the state in Approaching with 42 percent.

Grades 3-5 math proficiency: 37 percent On-Track or Mastered. The state average was 40 percent, but Hawkins County exceeded the state average in Approaching by 7 percent.

Grades 6-8 math proficiency: 29 percent On-Track or Mastered, compared to the state’s 35 percent. "Another area that we want to address," Starnes said.

Other areas of academic achievement addressed in the Stregic Plan:

The ACT composite score was 19.0 for the graduating Class of 2017.

That's a decrease from 20.1 from the Class of 2016, although Starnes noted that they tested 148 more seniors last year than the previous year due to the change in state regulations that require a student to take the ACT for graduation.

"I felt like that re-established our baseline, and we will be working on a trajectory upward from there," Starnes said.

Meeting all four ACT benchmarks: The goal is 25 percent. They had 17 percent in 2016 and 14.1 percent in 2017.

Percent eligible for the HOPE scholarship: The goal is 45 percent in five years. The class of 2017 achieved 44.5 percent.

Graduation rate goal of 93 percent or higher. Graduation rate for 2017 was 97.05 percent.

TN Promise: The goal was 64 percent, and Hawkins schools were at 51.1 percent of the Class of 2017.

Enrolled in college or post-secondary education: The goal was 66 percent, and the class of 2017 had 60.9 percent.

Post grad survey, "Did Hawkins County Schools prepared you for post graduation success:":The goal is 67 percent positive. In 2016, 59.2 said yes about six months after graduation. In 2017, 60.2 percent said yes.

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