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Local News

Jackson honored as 'Reward School'

August 28th, 2012 2:07 am by Rick Wagner

KINGSPORT — Jackson Elementary School in Kingsport is among a group of schools in Northeast Tennessee that made a list of 169 "Reward Schools" across the state.

Sullivan County had five schools on the list: Blountville Elementary, Central Heights Elementary, Indian Springs Elementary, the pre-K-8 Mary Hughes School, and Sullivan North High School. Bristol, Tenn., had one school on the list, Avoca Elementary.

The list features schools that landed in the top 5 percent statewide in test scores or score growth -- performance or progress -- and also took into consideration achievement gaps in scores of subgroups.

Others local schools on the list included Mount Carmel Elementary in Hawkins County, Rogersville City School, Southside Elementary in Johnson City and Unicoi Elementary in Unicoi County.

A full list of schools can be found online at

Nearly a quarter of the 169 schools on the Reward Schools list 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, according to a new accountability system adopted through Tennessee's No Child Left Behind waiver.

Because Tennessee's new accountability system rewards growth and recognizes schools' varying baselines, every school in the state can strive for the Reward School designation.

"I've been blessed just to walk in at the end of this," Kingsport Superintendent Lyle Ailshie said, noting Jackson's Reward School designation for progress on value-added test results in 2011-12.

Among the Sullivan schools, Blountville, North and Mary Hughes were given the award for progress, while Indian Springs got it for both performance and progress, and Central Heights got it for performance. Avoca in Bristol got it for performance and progress.

Holly Flora, starting her second year as principal of Jackson, said the school will continue its focus on students.

"The best is yet to come. This is just a start," Flora said.

Flora said all schools in the top 5 percent of raw achievement or value-added scores got on the list as long as they did not have too large of a gap between the entire school achievement in any subgroup areas, such as minorities, the economically disadvantaged or those in special education.

In order to be a Reward School, those gaps could not widen or be larger than the state median.

"Thank you very much," Gov. Bill Haslam told teachers during a webinar held at winning schools across the state. "Thanks for showing Tennessee students can be as great as anybody else."

U.S. Commissioner of Education Arne Duncan, via a satellite feed from Washington, D.C., also offered his congratulations.

"I know how tough that work is," Duncan said of improving test scores, thanking principals and teachers for their efforts. He also cited the need for every student to become a "lifelong lover of learning."

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