Tennesse Gov. Don Sundquist on April 17 announced a new web site that allows public elementary and middle schools to compare their students’ test results with those at schools with similar demographics.
“We can now compare apples to apples in evaluating our schools to see what is working and what isn’t,” Sundquist said during a demonstration of the “Just for the KidsTennessee” site.
He said state achievement test results are posted on the site by grade and subject, giving teachers, principals, and parents the opportunity to “better define the right fit for kids in the classrooms.”
Eventually, the web site also will provide a collection of the best teaching practices, which are collected from consistently well-performing schools.
Tennessee is the third state to set up such an internet site with Just for the Kids, according to Brad Duggan of the Austin, Texas-based nonprofit organization.
Texas was first, followed by Washington. Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New Jersey are in the process of setting up their sites, Duggan said.
Education Commissioner Faye Taylor said the intent is not to pit schools against one another but to “provide an opportunity to pull away by layers those beliefs that we cannot do better.”
On the web site, a school’s results are compared with those of the top five that have a similar number of low-income and special-needs students, as well as those who don’t speak English proficiently.
Duggan said Texas schools that used the data to change the way they teach students made gains of three percent to eight percent in math, writing, and early-age reading over a two-year period.
The state used a $500,000 grant from a foundation set up by Dell Computer Corp. founder Michael Dell and his wife to create the web site.
Tennessee Tomorrow Inc., a nonprofit partnership of business leaders and education advocates, will maintain the site and raise funds to keep it operating. Sundquist said no tax dollars will be spent on the project.