MSCS Celebrates Reward School Designations, Aiming for District-Wide Success

A total of 34 Memphis-Shelby County Schools (MSCS) sites, including 18 District-managed and 16 charter schools, have been designated as Reward schools, according to data recently released by the Tennessee Department of Education. This is the highest honor schools can achieve under the state's federally approved accountability model.

These schools met demanding benchmarks or showed significant improvement in achievement and growth across all student groups, chronic absenteeism, English language learner performance, graduation rate, and college/career readiness.

Whitney Elementary Shines as a Success Story

One standout example is Whitney Elementary, which has flourished since transitioning from the state-run Achievement School District to MSCS. Dr. Vonda Beaty, the school's principal, expressed her pride.

“I’m extremely honored that Whitney Elementary School has received such a prestigious recognition,” said Beaty. “To see our work in a quantifiable way is so rewarding. I am proud of the students, teachers, and parents who have worked in concert to make our success a reality.” 

Interim Superintendent Toni Williams, who has focused strongly on school support during her tenure, commended the growth seen at Whitney and other Reward schools. 

“This impressive achievement reflects impressive leadership,” she said. “We celebrate Dr. Beaty and all leaders and staff at our Reward schools, while also providing additional support to help all schools reach this benchmark.”

Williams further emphasized the District's ongoing efforts. “We're committed to improving literacy skills, especially in early grades, extending learning beyond the classroom, and recognizing schools achieving gains to inspire wider success across the District.”

MSCS Designated a Satisfactory District

Also this week, the state released accountability data for each district, based on similar indicators used to determine Reward schools. 

The data shows progress made and opportunities for improvement districtwide. MSCS has been designated as a Satisfactory district. The state-run Achievement School District, which also operates schools in Memphis, has been designated In Need of Improvement. Exemplary is the top designation, followed by Advancing, Satisfactory, Marginal, and In Need of Improvement. 

“We are encouraged by our consistent gains in high school achievement, graduation rates, and English language learners performance,” said Dr. Angela Whitelaw, Deputy Superintendent of Schools and Academic Support. 

Whitelaw said MSCS is tackling opportunities to boost attendance with the District's new attendance specialists who were hired this school year and are already achieving promising results. MSCS also is providing targeted coaching and resources to educators to equip them with strategies to drive improvement. And, the District will continue to promote parent-teacher partnerships and community involvement to give our students ample mentorship opportunities.

"Our Satisfactory designation reflects our extended learning initiatives that help to combat the effects of poverty, crime, and homelessness on academic achievement,” said Whitelaw, “but we recognize there's work to be done as we progress toward Exemplary.”

*This story was updated on February 22 to reflect additional designation updates shared by the TN Dept. of Ed. 

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