Oak Ridge Schools could use help with a military program, one of the so-called “seven keys” to college and career readiness, education officials told a state official on Thursday.
State officials can also help by “keeping teachers on the same path for more than one year,” Oak Ridge Board of Education Chair Keys Fillauer told Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen during a Thursday afternoon tour of Oak Ridge High School.
“Let’s give them (teachers) some consistency,” Fillauer said. McQueen’s path is called TNReady, Fillauer said. That’s described as a “new and improved” TCAP (Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program), which students have taken since 1988.
McQueen is visiting all districts as part of a statewide tour. On Thursday, it was Oak Ridge’s turn. In addition to Oak Ridge High School, McQueen toured Glenwood Elementary School and Robertsville Middle School.
During an afternoon roundtable at ORHS, about 30 administrators and teachers from a wide cross-section of grade levels, subject areas, and schools in Oak Ridge met with McQueen in a closed-door session to discuss successes and challenges that educators are facing in their jobs.
When she toured ORHS, McQueen made stops in several classrooms, including math, digital arts, mechatronics, chorus, and band, and the library.
State officials asked Oak Ridge officials about the per-pupil spending in Oak Ridge, which is higher than in other nearby communities.
“I have never been in a school that values education more than this one,” ORHS Principal Martin McDonald told one official.
During the tour, state and local officials briefly discussed some programs and classes that Oak Ridge Schools offers, and reviewed some statistical information ranging from the increase in the number of students who qualify for free and reduced lunches to the one-third of the class that scores over 30 points on the ACT.
Oak Ridge Schools Superintendent Bruce Borchers also introduced McQueen to the district’s Seven Keys to College and Career Readiness. Those include goals related to reading, math, and English proficiency, financial literacy, and ACT composite scores. The last key, Key 7, says “all students participate in AP coursework, dual enrollment, industry certification, or military preparation program by graduation.”
Regarding the military program, local officials, including Tennessee Representative John Ragan, an Oak Ridge Republican, said the Southeast has a lot of programs (both Clinton and Anderson County have one), and the military would like to spread them out.
It’s apparently been a challenge to start one here, but officials said 170 students in Oak Ridge are interested in a military program.
Another challenge, according to Ragan, is the ramping up of the construction on the Uranium Processing Facility, or UPF, at Y-12 National Security Complex. Construction workers will need housing, some of them will have children, and they could be here for eight to 10 years, and then move on to other jobs. That means funding under the state’s Basic Education Program will also ramp up, and then continued funding under the state’s so-called maintenance of effort will be continued even after the workers leave, Ragan said.
McQueen seemed impressed with Borchers’ presentation during the Thursday tour. The presentation included a brief overview of the Seven Keys to College and Career Readiness.
“You use your own data, and you’ve created your own pathway,” McQueen said.
Included in the private discussion at ORHS was the Tennessee Department of Education’s “New Goals to Measure Education Progress,” which align with the Oak Ridge Schools’ Seven Keys to College and Career Readiness.
The state goals include:
- Early Foundations and Literacy: Building skills in early grades to contribute to future success.
- High School and Bridge to Postsecondary: Preparing significantly more students for postsecondary completion.
- All Means All: Providing individualized support and opportunities for all students with a focus on those who are farthest behind.
- Educator Support: Supporting the preparation and development of an exceptional educator workforce.
- District Empowerment: Providing districts with the tools and autonomy they need to make the best decisions for students.
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