Lakeland sees little state data on student achievement

The Lakeland School System doesn’t have a lot of standardized testing data from the state to measure student achievements this year, through no fault of their own. On Tuesday, Tennessee released the “school reports cards” based on standardized testing data, but only high school data was included.

At Monday’s school board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Ted Horrell said Lakeland Elementary this year has little beyond demographic information because of the lack of data for comparison. The state cancelled end-of-year tests (for the 2015-16 school year) for elementary and middle schools across Tennessee in April after the test maker, Measurement Inc., had a series of logistical and technological blunders.

The school-specific achievement data for all Tennessee schools had not yet been published at press time Tuesday, but general statewide data was already available. It showed big drops for the state’s high school students’ ability to score on grade level in math, English and social studies, compared to years past.

Education experts are saying that’s not necessarily a reflection on Tennessee students or the schools. The state used harder new tests that were aligned to more rigorous standards. It’s a “recalibration” year for everyone. Candice McQueen, Tennessee education commissioner, is cautioning parents and school administrators against being alarmed by the misleading changes in numbers. For a detailed look at the new scores and what they mean, see the statewide story at

Lakeland is a school district that currently has only an elementary school, so it has less data than most.

The school board did get to review some data on Lakeland students’ academic performance, however. Horrell discussed the results from the Standard Achievement Test-10 (SAT-10) given in previous years to Lakeland Elementary School’s second graders. The percentile of the average student who took this test in Lakeland in April 2015 was 78.7, which was very high, he said. In April 2016, it was 77.7, which he said was statistically not a very significant change.

Horrell also provided “Response to Intervention” (RTI) data, measuring how well Lakeland students have responded to regular classroom instruction, extra assistance, and a third tier of assistance, for students who need the most intensive intervention. From August to December this year, 88 Lakeland Elementary students received different levels of intervention, and it enabled eight of them to move back into general education. The process also identified four students in need of special education services.

Horrell said, “There’ll be another school-wide benchmark in January, and we’re actually expecting quite a bit of movement.”

Five-Year Vision

In other business, Lakeland schools now have a five-year plan to guide decisions by district leaders, teachers, students, parents and others. At Monday’s meeting, all school board members in attendance approved the Five-Year Strategic Plan Mission and Vision. Kelley Hale was absent. The board agreed to review the plan and discuss specific progress toward its goals annually in December.

The mission statement is, “Lakeland School System encourages and supports continuous learning; fosters physical, emotional and intellectual growth; and develops the unique leadership qualities of each individual.”

The detailed vision statement covers the district’s vision for students, teachers, staff, the district, parents and community members.

The document also covers objectives and strategies supporting these five goals:

  1. Empower students to connect with their communities, collaborate with one another, and express themselves creatively using a variety of digital resources.
  2. Attract and retain quality employees.
  3. Improve student achievement in all grade levels and subgroups while reducing achievement gaps.
  4. Improve and increase communication and involvement with stakeholders and the community.
  5. Promote social, emotional, and physical health through the cultivation of safe, supportive, and secure learning environments.

The full document with all the details will soon be uploaded to the district’s website at

Other business

The school board also:

• Heard an update on teachers’ use of Illuminate software, which lets them create student assessments so teachers can adjust instructional decisions. Since November, Lakeland teachers have created 242 assessments, and students have taken more than 940 of these.

• Heard Horrell’s update on the Lakeland Middle Preparatory School that is under construction. He said they are opening bids, primarily for furniture, fixture and equipment. Bids to date have covered kitchen equipment, science lab casework, library furniture, telescopic bleachers and general casework. Bids to be opened next week will cover musical instruments, the intercom and general classroom furniture. Other bids are in the works.

• Updated the bus scheduling and routing policy, ensuring that the district meets the legal requirement for a clear written line of communication from parents to drivers to school administrators, who grant approval for any transportation routing changes for children. Read the policy in detail at (From the dropdown menu for “About LSS,” select “Board” and then “Policy Manual.” Search for Policy 3.401. All policies are searchable at this location.)

• Accepted the district’s latest financial report, available online at Horrell said the district is on track.

• Passed the consent agenda. It included the second reading of a new policy on student alcohol and drug testing and the first reading of new policies on English learners and students in foster care. It also included updates to a policy on borrowing equipment and supplies and a policy on food service management.

• Approved a routine list of property to be discarded.

• Announced that there will be no school board work session in January; there will only be a business meeting at 5:45 p.m. Jan. 9 at Lakeland City Hall.

Written by Carolyn Bahm, Express editor. Contact her at (901) 433-9138 or via email to