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McPheeter's Bend ranked tops in state for value added

April 24th, 2014 10:33 pm by Jeff Bobo

McPheeter's Bend ranked tops in state for value added

With McPheeter's Bend Elementary Principal Renee Bernard looking on, students Jaime Leigh Barnett, left, and Sarah Trent hold a banner touting the school's academic accomplishments. Contributed photo.

CHURCH HILL — Tennessee's Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS) measures a school's academic improvement, something McPheeter's Bend Elementary School did better than any other Tennessee elementary school in 2012-13.

Improvement is becoming a tradition at McPheeter's Bend, which was recognized as the second most improved school in the state last year.

A ceremony was held at the school Monday to celebrate ranking first in the state among 765 elementary schools, as well as being the first-place winner of the Value-Added Achievement Awards among elementary schools in East Tennessee.

The Education Consumers Foundation (ECF) also recognized Principal Renee Bernard Monday for her role in making McPheeter's Bend Elementary "one of the most effective schools in the state of Tennessee." Bernard was also recognized last year through the awards program.

Bernard told the Times-News this week that there are many factors that contribute to the success of McPheeter's Bend Elementary, and she believes that it is "people not programs" that is the core of their success.

"The faculty and staff of McPheeter's Bend Elementary School work together as a team to improve student achievement," Bernard said. "Every day begins with a 120-minute reading/literacy block. During this time, the students are immersed in nonfiction text and provided many activities and materials to reinforce the Common Core State Standards. For the struggling students, we provide an excellent Response to Intervention program in reading and math that strives to close the achievement gap."

Each child has an Individual Learning Plan where all data is recorded and their instruction is adjusted based on their individual needs. Bernard said the instruction at McPheeter's Bend is very active and engaging, and teachers use research-based instructional methods to maximize student learning.

"The children love school and look forward to what their teachers have planned each and every day," she said. "Our school is very small. We have approximately 100 students and one teacher per grade. While many would see this as a disadvantage, we see it as an advantage. Our school culture is warm, inviting, and nurturing. The size of our school allows for strong, supportive relationships to be made between students, teachers, and parents."

Every year the (ECF) selects 18 elementary and middle school principals to receive its Value-Added Achievement Awards based on learning gains across the entire student body as measured by TVAAS.

TVAAS measures achievement gain in a way that permits schools to be compared regardless of the makeup of the student body.

Schools whose students make the greatest annual gains in achievement earn the highest value-added scores.

"Ms. Bernard and her staff have done an excellent job in helping their students learn," said Tennessee Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman. "Their record of performance attests to the hard work and dedication of the principals, teachers, students, and parents."

"The leadership shown by principals like Renee Bernard is remarkable; it illustrates what can be accomplished regardless of the wealth or poverty of the student body," said ECF president Dr. J.E. Stone. "With TVAAS, people are able to see exactly what each school contributes to the success of its students, not just the test score averages that are so heavily influenced by demographic and socioeconomic differences. These are the schools that do the best job of helping students 'be all they can be,' regardless of their strengths and weaknesses. ..."

As a winning principal, Bernard received a certificate, a banner and a cash award of $3,000.

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