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Holston Elementary earns Reward School status

Rick Wagner • Aug 22, 2014 at 12:30 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — Sullivan County's Holston Elementary School has been recognized as a Reward School by the Tennessee Department of Education.

It was one of seven Reward Schools in Northeast Tennessee and 168 statewide announced Thursday.

"While we had several schools close to the Reward School status cut, we are especially happy for the Holston Elementary community," Sullivan County Assistant Director of Schools David Timbs said. "Their status as a Focus School two years ago for gap closure spurred an already high achieving school to go even higher while closing their gaps at the same time. The principal, John Weaver, and the staff set very high expectations and the students were engaged and inspired to meet them. Our entire district celebrates with HES."

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman Thursday announced the 2013-14 Reward Schools, the top 5 percent of schools in the state for academic achievement or performance and the top 5 percent for annual growth.

Holston Elementary got the award for performance, a contrast from 2011-12 when it was a Focus school because of gap achievement issues with special education and economically disadvantaged students.

Katie Lutz, a retired teacher hired to be a reading interventionist, said she and another retired teacher who helped with math worked with a state-provided academic specialist who "taught us, encouraged us and sat with us," helping the school use data to identify at-risk students in the subgroups and help them.

Other Northeast Tennessee winners were Carter County's Hunter and Valley Forge elementary schools, both for progress; Johnson City's Science Hill High for performance and its Towne Acres Elementary for performance and progress; and Washington County's Ridgeview Elementary and University School, both for performance.

The Reward Schools this year span 49 districts across Tennessee and include 90 schools that serve mostly economically disadvantaged populations.

This year's list recognizes 67 schools for overall academic achievement and 84 schools for annual value-added growth. The list also names 17 schools that earned both designations, rising to the top 5 percent for annual value-added growth while also ranking in the state's top 5 percent for overall achievement.

A list of 2014 Reward Schools is available at www.tn.gov/education/data/accountability/schools_2014.shtml.

School-level achievement data is available at http://tn.gov/education/data/tcap_2014_school.shtml.

Schools are designated as Reward for performance for overall student achievement. This designation is determined annually by a one-year success rate. A success rate is calculated by adding together the total number of proficient or advanced students in each subject and dividing by the total number of test takers for each subject.

Schools are designated as Reward for progress for having high student growth. This designation is determined by a one-year TVAAS or value-added school composite.

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