Sevier Middle, Lincoln Elementary awarded $400,000 in Focus School grants

Rick Wagner • Oct 3, 2012 at 11:09 AM

KINGSPORT — Two Kingsport schools and one each in Bristol, Tenn., and Carter County have won grants to help close student achievement gaps among subgroups, the Tennessee Department of Education announced Wednesday.

Kingsport City Schools’ Sevier Middle School is getting $285,000 and the city’s Lincoln Elementary $115,000, Superintendent Lyle Ailshie said Wednesday afternoon.

The TDE announced 56 winners of the Focus School grant competition, which will provide an estimated $19.2 million investment to schools across the state during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years.

Aside from Sevier and Lincoln, other area schools that won are Anderson Elementary in Bristol and Valley Forge Elementary in Carter County.

Elsewhere in the greater Northeast Tennessee area, Hancock Elementary in Hancock County, Powell Valley Elementary in Claiborne County and Union Heights Elementary in Hamblen County also were among the 56 winners.

The winning schools will be awarded between $100,000 and $300,000 each year depending on enrollment size and satisfactory performance. The award will be used to create and sustain improvement plans that close student achievement gaps among subgroups such as racial and ethnic groups, students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, students with disabilities, and English-language learners.

For those Focus Schools that were not awarded grant funds, including Kennedy Elementary in Kingsport and Bluff City and Holston elementary schools in Sullivan County, the state plans to enlist the support of external academic specialists who will provide personalized, embedded technical assistance to Focus Schools as they work to close existing gaps.

The grant program is designed to support Focus Schools, which are the 10 percent of schools in Tennessee with the largest achievement gaps between groups of students, in developing deliberate, data-driven strategies to ensure growth for student subgroups that have under-performed their peers.

“Using this grant, Tennessee’s Focus Schools will create real opportunities to close student achievement gaps while providing examples of success and lessons learned for all schools across the state,” Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman said in a news release.

The state named 167 Focus Schools in August, a part of Tennessee’s accountability system developed through its waiver from No Child Left Behind, and 152 of those Focus Schools applied for the grant.

School faculty, along with parents, outside experts and community partners, submitted plans in September based on the latest research in the areas of individualized student support, staff professional development, extended learning time, community engagement and performance management.

Additional information regarding Focus Schools and the accountability system can be found at www.tn.gov/education/accountability.

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