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Metro Schools plans quick response for priority schools

District has more reward schools and fewer focus schools according to state data

The Tennessee Department of Education has released its annual list of priority and focus schools based on 2013-14 achievement data and the results for Metro Nashville’s public schools is mixed. The number of Focus schools has decreased; however, the number of priority schools has increased. Later this week, the state will release its annual list of reward schools and that list will include a significant increase in the number of district schools over last year.

In 2012, Metro Schools had six schools listed as priority. That number increased to 15 in 2014, with eight schools making the list for the first time. The data show most of the schools in priority status did make achievement gains this past year. Those gains, however, are not being made fast enough.

“We are going to take decisive action to address these schools’ needs,” Register said. “We intend to move quickly, to identify areas where progress is not being made fast enough, and to make whatever changes are necessary to help students excel.”

Register said leaders from the Priority schools and several different departments will work together to develop comprehensive plans based on every aspect of each school’s operation – including curriculum, instruction, leadership, student assignment and central office support - and has already mobilized and challenged administrators to begin this work.

Two schools, John Early Museum Magnet Middle and Gra-Mar Middle, have made excellent progress and both came off the Priority list. Those schools’ strategies will be studied for use across the district and Gra-Mar’s former principal, Dr. Antoinette Williams, is now the executive director for middle schools working with schools districtwide. Another positive for the district is the reduction in its number of Focus schools - down from 13 to 9 from last year. Schools are included on the Focus list due to achievement gap issues. Overall, the district’s achievement gap is narrower than the state in all areas measured.

Priority Schools:

Bailey Middle Brick Church Middle Buena Vista  Elementary
Inglewood Elementary Jere Baxter Middle Joelton Middle
Whitsitt Elementary Kirkpatrick Elementary Napier Elementary
Neely's Bend Middle Pearl-Cohn High Ross Elementary*
Churchwell Elementary Madison Middle The Cohn School

*Ross Elementary was closed at the end of 2014. The building was converted into an Early Learning Center for prekindergarten.