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Two Hawkins County schools honored for excellence in magazine study

Jeff Bobo • Dec 7, 2008 at 12:00 AM

ROGERSVILLE — Two Hawkins County high schools were recognized last week in a U.S. News and World Report study as among the best in the nation with regard to exceeding their state proficiency benchmarks and for serving all students including those who aren’t college bound.

Based on the study’s findings Volunteer High School in Church Hill and the small K-12 Clinch School in Eidson would be ranked within the top 10 percent best performing high schools in the nation.

Director of Schools Charlotte Britton told the Times-News she is “extremely proud of this accomplishment,” noting that the study takes into account the progress of an entire student population which is also a focus of her system.

“I talk about this all the time — that the mission of Hawkins County Schools in partnership with all stakeholders is to educate and graduate every student,” Britton said. “This award is based on the key principles that a high school must serve all of its students, not just those who are college bound. I’m convinced that the staff at our high schools takes into consideration individual student growth and provides a caring, learning classroom for success for all.

“Through staff development we have trained all of our teachers to look at individual student scores to ensure that every child, regardless of their income level or their at-risk status can still make progress.”

The U.S. News and World Report study analyzed 21,069 public high schools in 48 states using data from the 2006-2007 school year. There wasn’t enough information available from Oklahoma, Nevada or the District of Columbia to be included in the study.

Every school was judged in three parts including how well it served its entire student body, not just students who are college bound. It also judged how well students met or exceeded state proficiency guidelines.

The final part of the study assessed how well schools prepare students for college-level work.

A list of the “gold medal” winners, or the top 100 schools in the nation, was created from the results of the study, with Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va., being named number one for the second year in a row.

There were four gold medal schools in Virginia, all of which were in Fairfax County. Tennessee had two gold medal schools, both in Nashville including Hume Fogg Magnet ranked 30th and Martin Luther King Jr. ranked 41st.

The next 504 top-performing high schools nationwide earned silver medals after being ranked based on their college readiness index scores.

Tennessee had two silver medal schools including University School in Johnson City and Merrol Hyde Magnet School in Hendersonville.

Virginia had 14 silver medal winners, but the closest to this region was Radford High School.

An additional 1,321 high schools nationwide that excelled in the first two parts of the study were awarded bronze medals.

Aside from Volunteer and Clinch in Hawkins County, the other bronze medal winners in Northeast Tennessee included Unicoi County, Chucky Doak, North Greene and South Greene. A total of 25 Tennessee high schools were awarded bronze, although none in Sullivan County.

Volunteer High School principal Jim Dykes said his school’s bronze medal can largely be attributed to his hard-working staff.

“It takes a very knowledgeable and dedicated staff to address the needs of such a diverse student population,” Dykes said. “Volunteer High School is extremely excited and honored to receive this award and fortunate to have the community support that is required for our staff to address the needs of every student.”

Clinch School principal Linda Long said, “The success of Clinch School is thanks to the teachers. They genuinely care about the students. Our success is a combination of small classrooms, dedicated teachers, guarded instruction time, strong support from the school board and Central Office, and a history of strong community involvement over the years.”

Twenty seven Virginia schools received bronze medals. Among the Southwest Virginia high schools to receive bronze were Thomas Walker, Rye Cove, Twin Springs, Appalachian High, Pound, St. Paul, Virginia High, Castlewood High, Ervinton High, Haysi High, Council High, Grundy High, Hurley High and Twin Valley High.

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