Rates on the Rise: MSCS Achieves Level 5 Rating for Second Consecutive Year

For the second year in a row, Memphis-Shelby County Schools is a Level 5 school district, the highest distinction available based on TVAAS composite scores. The composite score includes all grade levels and all subjects. Considering all grades and subjects together, MSCS students made substantially more growth than expected in a year, according to the Tennessee Department of Education. The District also earned a Level 5 distinction in Literacy, Science, and across multiple end-of-course (EOC) high school subjects. 

“I want to take a moment to express my deepest gratitude for the incredibly hard work and dedication of our students, teachers, and leaders throughout this school year. Your resilience and commitment to learning have been truly inspiring,” said Interim Superintendent Toni Williams. “I would also like to extend a special thank you to our Academics team. Our collective efforts have resulted in Memphis-Shelby County Schools earning this highest designation once again. Your expertise and commitment have been invaluable, and we are grateful for your unwavering support.”

What is TVAAS? The Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System measures students' academic growth over time. Its focus is student growth rather than student proficiency on the state assessment. TVAAS helps educators identify best practices, implement programs that meet the needs of their students, and make strategic decisions about where to focus resources to ensure growth opportunities for all students.

What does this mean for MSCS? A Level 5 composite means the District is successfully moving students toward proficiency and beyond. Sixty-nine (69) schools earned a Level 5 designation in the 2022-23 school year. “Significant growth, as characterized by a Level 5, means our students continue to rebound from the negative impacts of the pandemic and other socioeconomic stressors faced by our communities,” said Dr. Angela Whitelaw, Deputy Superintendent of Schools and Academic Support. Three schools – Cordova Middle, University Middle, and Ridgeway High – made significant growth, moving from Level 1 to Level 5. Ridgeway and Cordova welcomed new principals last year.

Additionally, almost 60% of schools received a TVAAS Composite designation of 3 or higher. Science is the subject area having the largest number of schools receiving a 3 or higher. We understand not all students start at the same place. This consistent growth is a result of the District’s commitment to data-driven interventions, enhanced professional development, and implementation of strategies that engage our older students. Dr. Amy Maples, Executive Director for Curriculum & Instruction for MSCS, added, “Our back-to-back Level 5 distinctions highlight that our teachers are effectively helping students to reach academic goals and our curriculum plan is getting results.”

While celebrating the wins, we recognize that more work remains. We are committed to fostering growth in overall numeracy and literacy, especially at the third- and fourth-grade levels. Below are the additional supports in place.

  • Currently, 1,400 fourth-grade students receive small-group literacy instruction during the school day.
  • More than 2,900 teachers engage in targeted professional development to strengthen their knowledge of the science of reading research and evidence-based literacy practices. 
  • Targeted S.O.S. (sharing of strategies) for Math Teachers – professional development will be provided for the new curriculum for Math 
  • Tips in Twenty videos connect educators with families through fun clips featuring at-home literacy activities. 

Our call to action to the community and all stakeholders includes:

Literacy is everyone’s business – Foster student love for and success in reading and writing by continuing to provide Science of Reading professional learning, highlighting literacy strategies across all content areas, leveraging community partnerships, and providing engaging at-home literacy activities. 

Making meaning in reading – Continuing implementation of an evidence-based foundational literacy curriculum and supporting teachers through foundational literacy professional development focused on phonics instruction, so students are able to successfully make meaning when reading. 

Math counts – Implement a new evidence-based mathematics curriculum across grades kindergarten through 12th. 

Focus on the whole child – Wraparound student supports focused on academics and social-emotional health continue to be priorities. These supports include tutoring, tiered instruction, and social-emotional learning. 

“Our theme this year is ‘See the Future’ because our duty is to help every student see the future they’re capable of creating,” said Interim Superintendent Toni Williams. “The success of the highlighted schools and the others in our great District is attributed to the tireless, strategic work done by our educators, students, families, and community partners. It will take all of us working together to continue extending these gains.”

View this profile on Instagram

Memphis-Shelby County Schools (@mscsk12) • Instagram photos and videos

Memphis-Shelby County Schools offers educational and employment opportunities without regard to race, color, religion, sex, creed, age, disability, national origin, or genetic information.