PHOTO: Assessment Analyst Kevin Deck discusses the previous and upcoming school years with the Williamson County School Board in Franklin on Thursday. / Photo by Alexander Willis
BY ALEXANDER WILLIS
The Williamson County School Board held its first meeting in nearly two months on Thursday evening in Franklin, and discussed this past year’s achievements, shortcomings, as well as its plans for the school year.
According to the most recent assessment from the Tennessee Department of Education, the Williamson County School District (WCS) was the only school district in the state to rank in the top five in all subject and grade categories. Categories in which WCS were ranked first in the state were ELA and math for grades 3 – 8, and ELA for high school.
Additionally, WCS were ranked second in the state in science for grades 5 – 8, third in U.S. history for all grade levels, fourth in math for high school, and fifth in science for high school.
“Overall, things are going better than they were last year,” Superintendent Mike Looney said during the meeting. “But, we still have a ways to go.”
One major shortcoming of the previous school year discussed was online testing conducted by the state.
“The state almost completely botched the testing,” said WCS Board member Rick Wimberly. “The tests weren’t reliable, there were significant glitches…”
According to Assessment Analyst Kevin Deck, there were approximately 150 exams cancelled due to technical difficulties in Williamson County, with Deck calling the previous school year “a disastrous year for TCAP.”
The technical shortcomings of the state conducted tests have been an ongoing issue, according to Looney.
“The assessment process didn’t work,” Looney said. “You can’t put lipstick on that pig – it just didn’t work. If this had been the first year of that problem, it might have been a pass, but this is multiple years now. This is the fourth year in a row where we’ve had some technological issues, so we’re just frustrated.”
One significant achievement brought up during the meeting by Chairman of the Board Gary Anderson was that Williamson County has built 37 schools in the past 28 years.
“Education is what people move here for,” Anderson said. “Williamson County has always put the focus on public education, and it shows. We went from a good, to a great, to a world class district here in the last 28 years.”
Below are the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System scores for WCS. TVAAS is a system that measures student growth relative to similarly performing peers.