Practical Applications of Value-Added Data in Tennessee

Tennessee has the most sophisticated value-added data system in the country; this system called the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS) shows how effective local schools are in helping their students to reach their academic potential – to “be all that they can be.”

In addition to serving as the basis for Education Consumers Foundation’s Value-Added Achievement Awards and its School Performance Charts, TVAAS data shows the relationships between poverty, level of student achievement, and annual gains in achievement.

Economic Disadvantage vs Student Achievement

This chart shows how economic disadvantage is related to student achievement among TN elementary and middle schools.  Each dot is a school.  The greater the percentage of disadvantaged students in a school, the lower the grades 4-8 achievement level.  The reason is that many economically disadvantaged students are, in effect, a year or more behind their peers when they enter school and need of accelerated achievement growth in grades PreK-3.  Without acceleration, they start behind and stay behind.

Economic Disadvantage vs. Annual Student Achievement Gain

As can be seen in this chart, there is virtually no relationship between the percentage of disadvantaged students in a school and the achievement gains of the students.  Each dot is a school.  Schools can produce high annual gains in student achievement levels regardless of the percentage of students who are economically disadvantaged.  Demography is not destiny.  Effective schooling can overcome economic disadvantages.

Student Achievement vs Achievement Gain among High & Low Poverty Schools

This chart shows the relationship between school achievement levels and school achievement gains. The black dots are schools with fewer than 70% disadvantaged students and the red dots are the schools with 70% or more disadvantaged students.  In essence, it demonstrates that any school can be above average in annual achievement gains or achievement level, however, schools with high percentages of disadvantaged students have a lesser chance of being among the highest in achievement.  Again, the hurdle that high poverty schools have to overcome is the lack of school readiness that is associated with poverty and the need for disadvantaged students to make above-average gains in grades PreK-3.

Performance of High-Poverty Schools

The Foundation looked at high-poverty schools in major districts including Nashville and Memphis to see whether they were more likely to be high or low-achieving and found a distribution that matched that of the total school population. (Note: PDF Files)

High and Low Performing Schools in Urban Areas

The following maps show the highest and lowest-performing schools in 4 urban areas. Red dots are “A” schools; Blue dots are “F” schools. A white dot indicates 90% or greater student participation in the Free and Reduced Lunch Program.

For more on TVAAS, click here.