By Crystal Burns
Bradford Special School District Director of Schools Dan Black reviewed the district’s 2017 state report card, released January 10, with the local board of trustees last week.
To see how the district measures up locally and statewide, Black took the district’s On Track or Mastered percentages in high school End of Course tests and ranked them against other systems. Bradford High School was tops in West Tennessee and seventh in the state.
Black did the same for Bradford 3-8 ELA (English/Language Arts), 3-8 Math, and 3-8 Science scores and found the elementary school ranked seventh in West Tennessee.
“We really did a good job overall,” he said.
Bradford juniors averaged a 20.5 composite score on the ACT, down from 21.1 last year but still above the state average of 20.1. Twenty percent of Bradford juniors met all four ACT benchmarks, scores that ACT research has identified to represent the level of achievement required for students to have a 50 percent chance of obtaining a B or higher or about a 75 percent chance of obtaining a C or higher in corresponding credit-bearing first-year college courses.
Black said that most of a students’ success on state tests can be traced back to the classroom teacher, but the ACT is more indicative of the district’s curriculum.
“ACT indicates what your school system is doing,” he said.
Black said that reading continues to be an area in need of improvement for students in Bradford and beyond.
“That’s a challenge for everybody in West Tennessee,” he said.
He also noted that science standards are changing. The process takes two years, and students won’t be tested during that time. Typically when standards are adjusted, test scores falter the first year, Black said.
Overall, Bradford ranked 2 (on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the highest) in TVAAS, the value-added system the state uses to predict and measure growth in groups of students from year to year. Because the state was unable to produce a TNReady test for 3-8 grade students last year, there was no TVAAS data available for those grades this year. Bradford scored 3s in Literacy, Numeracy, and Literacy and Numeracy.
“We just didn’t have the growth that had been projected,” Black said. “Our value added should’ve been better. That was my fault. It won’t happen again.”
The board approved the 2018-19 calendar. Black said he put teachers in the driver’s seat, and all preferred starting the fall semester earlier in order to dismiss for Christmas Break in the middle of December. Professional development for staff begins July 23; the first day of school for students is July 27.
The calendar, which Black says is nearly identical to this year’s, also includes weeklong fall, Thanksgiving, and spring breaks.
“I had nobody really complain about doing it this way,” he said. “I told them it doesn’t matter to us. Whatever the teachers want, that’s what we try to do.”
Students are dismissed from school early on August 30 for parent-teacher conferences and get all day August 31 while the staff participates in professional development. No school is held September 3 for Labor Day, October 1-5 for Fall Break, and November 19-23 for Thanksgiving. Students are also dismissed early October 26. The fall semester ends December 14.
Students will report back to school for the spring 2019 semester on January 3. School is dismissed January 21 for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, February 18 for Presidents Day, March 25-29 for Spring Break, April 19 for Good Friday, and May 10 for the Strawberry Festival. The last day of school is May 21.
School Board Appreciation Week
School board members enjoyed dinner and received cards and treats from students, teachers, and staff in honor of Tennessee School Board Appreciation Week. Chairman Don Lannom, Dr. Dale Denning, Dr. Kelvin Moore, Rich Cunningham, Ricky Bratton, and Mark Hampton have served together for nearly a decade.
“Bradford is very lucky to have you gentlemen here,” Black said. “You want to do what’s best for the students of Bradford Special School District. I know our teachers appreciate what you do and how you support them.”
The board approved spending a maximum of $18,500 for architect fees, signing a contract with Doug Short to design a freestanding building to be used as a music room. The next step is for Short to send the plans to the state fire marshal’s office for approval.
The board approved paying an additional $31.75 each for four employees’ health insurance plans to meet the affordability safe harbors. District HR rep Christy Pybas said it was the least expensive option for the district to avoid paying a penalty for not meeting the safe harbor.
At Black’s recommendation, the board approved amending his contract to change his local travel from a lump sum to 46 cents per mile. Black counts local travel as anything in West Tennessee. Black said the change would not hurt him but would save the district about $2,000 a year.
“I could see no disadvantage to it,” Lannom said.
Black shared personnel changes with the board. Jerome Macklin, a retired teacher and former principal, was hired to fill in the remainder of the year for Amanda Brewer who retired in December. Macklin teaches biology and chemistry.
Barbara Turner has been hired to replace Cindy Boyd, a special education teacher who resigned in January to take a job at UT Martin, and will start February 19.