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Eleven Knox County Schools Earn Apex Awards
Pleasant Ridge Elementary School Principal Jessica Birdsong accepts the schools' APEX Award check for $10,000.
Knox County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre endorses the APEX Award School check for $10,000 for South-Doyle Middle School.
Eleven Knox County Schools were recently rewarded as “APEX Award Schools.” APEX (Advance • Perform • EXcel) is the strategic compensation system that recognizes and rewards successful achievement in outcomes. It is a part of the school district’s five-year strategic plan, entitled Excellence for All Children.
 
To achieve this honor, the schools have earned high performing results that are based on impressive TVAAS growth and making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), which is now measured as Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs) since Tennessee received a waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act. 

The criteria for an APEX Award School includes making at least 50 percent of a school’s AMOs both for achievement and gap closure, as well as strong TVAAS growth.  The following schools have rewarded as Apex Award Schools:
 
Tier 1 – Exemplary Performance receiving $10,000
Carter Elementary School
Carter High School
South-Doyle Middle School
Pleasant Ridge Elementary School
Tier 2 – Model Performance receiving $5,000
A.L. Lotts Elementary School
Cedar Bluff Elementary School
Chilhowee Elementary School
Farragut High School
Farragut Middle School
Halls High School
West Valley Middle School




A look at two winners:

Pleasant Ridge Elementary

The Pleasant Ridge staff spent a lot of time looking at student data beyond what the district provided.  Professional Learning Communities (PLC) focused on targeting specific goals for each student.  The teachers embedded daily assessment checks into each days activities to student understanding of the day’s instruction. The next day’s lesson plans were then based on the results.

“Our teachers cannot create lesson plans a week ahead,” said Principal Jessica  Birdsong. “They create tomorrow’s plans based on today’s performance.  The teachers spend a lot of time authenticating assessment.  Much of the assessment is not necessarily formal tests, but observed responses to material.”

The focus on high quality instruction reaffirms best practices that teachers are already using. “It is a fabulously hard-working staff committed 100% to making sure each child grows,” said Birdsong.

Pleasant Ridge has seen a 20% increase in reading and math in each of the last two years. There are 30 classroom teachers and four assistants. The focus this year is on lower performing subgroups such as minority and special needs students while maintaining the high quality instruction for all students.

Pleasant Ridge plans to use some of the money to provide transportation for students whose parents cannot let them remain after school for additional help. One of  the programs is after school care called PREPARE -  which means Pleasant Ridge Enrichment Program to Accelerate and Reinforce Effort.

Chilhowee Intermediate

Chilhowee Principal Robyn Ellis’ staff saw math scores increase from 53.1% to 61.5% last year after instructional time was increased from 60 minutes to 85 minutes per day.  Teachers also have set higher expectations for students.  Third grade students’ scores increased from 50% to 63.4%.

“There are no interruptions to classes during the day,” said Ellis.  “Following morning announcements, teachers begin teaching at 7:50 a.m. and continue teaching all day without interruptions for assemblies, announcements, and other activities that might distract from the teacher-learning relationship.”

Each day’s math lesson begins with a review of what was learned the previous day and continues to build from there. Ms. Ellis spends much of her day visiting among the classrooms to see just how students are doing.  This support of the classroom teacher demonstrates to the students that there are people other than their teachers who are interested in how they are doing in school.

“Our teachers work extremely hard,” she said, “and the students understand the high expectations teachers have for each student. I am very proud of them all.”

The APEX Reward School funds will be evenly divided among grade level and special area teachers and will be used to purchase materials for the classroom.

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