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Good news for schools in grad rates, math

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However, Roane’s education report card shows important downside

By Damon Lawrence

Improvements in math and graduation rate: Those were the two things Director of Schools Gary Aytes said he was most proud of about Roane County Schools 2012 state report card.
In the academic growth category, Roane County received a C in math in 2011.
In 2012 the county scored an A.
The graduation rate went from 78.2 percent in 2011 to 88.8 percent in 2012. 
“That’s tremendous,” Aytes said.
Aytes said the disappointments were in reading/language, science and the ACT.
The county’s grade remained a D in the reading/language and science academic growth category.
“We’ve set a goal next year to get our reading/language value added to a B and our science to an A,” Aytes said. “We’re going to make a big jump in science next year.”
Aytes said the school system is putting more emphasis on science.
“We’ve hired science specialists to develop science kits to go along with all the different skills,” he said. “We’ve done some rescheduling in our middle schools to get a little more time for science.”
The school system’s composite in the ACT was 19.6 in 2011. It was 19.4 in 2012. The state average was 19.2.
Aytes said efforts are being made to improve student ACT scores.
“We’re going to try to increase our number of AP (advanced placement) courses,”  he said. “We’re going to increase our dual enrollment.”
Aytes said the county also plans to have more ACT preparation courses.
“ACT has become tough because we test every 11th grader,” he said. “Used to, you tested the ones that planned on going to college, but now you have to test every student, so it makes it a little more difficult to get those scores up.”
The state’s annual report card includes data on demographics, achievement, accountability, value-added, attendance, graduation rate and student discipline.
Data is available on each of the 136 school systems and 1,784 schools in Tennessee. 
“We think it’s important for parents and students, as well as school and district leaders, to know how well their schools are doing each year,” Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman said in a prepared statement. “Tennessee is focused on continuous growth, and our report card shows us where we are making gains and where we need more work.”
The report card can be found at www.tn.gov/education.
“Principals and administrators, this is more of an overall view of the system and how well we’re doing overall, so we look at these,” Aytes said. “This also tells us where we are in relation to all the other systems around us.”