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County schools make the grade

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By Jennifer Caldwell

After months of speculation regarding student performance for the 2008-09 school year the jury is finally in.

Kicking off last year with four schools on the target list, Campbell County High School (CCHS) one step away from state take over and Jellico High School (JHS) not far behind, there was little doubt that administrators across the system had to adopt a “shape up or ship out” philosophy.

But just one year after adapting to changes implemented by Dr. Michael Martin, director of schools, proof of system wide improvement is in the numbers.

When the Tennessee Department of Education released it Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) report on Wednesday morning it revealed that Campbell County Schools are on the way to being removed from school improvement lists.

According to Dr. Karen Bundren, federal programs director for the school system, if CCHS and JHS continue to meet and exceed the benchmarks required by No Child Left Behind they will be operating in good standing by the end of the 2009-10 school year.

“This is a celebration because of the tremendous gains that our schools have made,” Bundren said

In addition to strides made at both high schools, the four elementary schools placed on the target list at the end of the 2007-08 school year for failure to make AYP made sufficient progress to be removed completely from the list.

While congratulations are in order for all schools demonstrating significant improvements, the AYP report left one black mark on the otherwise stellar performance.

Jacksboro Elementary School was placed on the state’s target list after failing to meet reading and math AYP benchmarks in third, fourth and fifth grades.

The school’s deficient performance led to a number of staffing changes at the school including the placement of Sandra Chaniott as principal, according to Bundren,

“The intent of the changes was to create the best match for skill sets.  The reassignments were made solely on data and not who the teachers are,” Bundren explained.  “The teachers that were moved into the upper grades were chosen by the principal because she felt they would be able to most directly affect the learning of those students.”

Despite the setback at Jacksboro Bundren said she is confident that the school will be on the right track before the end of this school year.

“We are certain that they (Jacksboro Elementary) will make the needed gains to be removed from the target list next year,” Bundren said.