State names Fairview Middle a 2015 Focus School

The State Department of Education announced this month a list of 2015 Focus Schools statewide, among them Fairview Middle.

The State Department of Education announced this month a list of 2015 Focus Schools statewide, among them Fairview Middle School.

The department began naming Focus and Priority Schools in 2012, and releases a new list every three years.

Priority Schools are the five percent of Tennessee schools with the lowest overall performance, while Focus Schools are the 10 percent of state schools with the largest achievement gaps between groups of students. To be determined as a Focus School does not factor in overall performance.

Schools are designated Focus Schools in one of three ways – by a gap between student subgroups, a composite proficiency rate below 10 percent for a particular subgroup or a graduation rate below 60 percent.

Fairview Middle was deemed a Focus School based on an achievement gap between students with disabilities and students without disabilities.

“Our regular education had tremendous growth in proficiency, and our students with disabilities reaching proficiency decreased, creating a larger gap,” Principal Gary Shrader said.

“I was aware of the gap, and we have already formed interventions to help these students. My Student Support Services teachers are outstanding and focused to help the students that they serve. We are also receiving additional support from the district.”

Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Schools Charles Farmer will be supporting Fairview as it works toward achievement goals this school year. Fairview Middle did show the largest growth in literacy proficiency in the school district, and decreased the gap for the economically disadvantaged and black/Hispanic/Native American subcategories last year.

According to a news release, the state is building an “intensive, regional support team” to aid Focus Schools in closing their achievement gaps.

“For the past several years, our state has been focused both on improving overall performance of all kids in Tennessee, while closing achievement gaps between historically low-performing groups of students and their peers; our school accountability system aligns with these goals,” Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman said in the release.

“We’ve also made a significant financial investment in our lowest performing, or Priority Schools, and we’re starting to see signs of hope that this investment is paying off,” he added, referring to the state’s investment of more than $7 million to support districts with Priority Schools.

The Department of Education released information that after two years of work, nearly 80 percent of 2012 Focus Schools had a smaller achievement gap between economically disadvantaged students and other students than Tennessee did collectively.

Jessica Pace covers Williamson County, Williamson County Schools and the Town of Nolensville for BrentWord Communications. Contact her at or follow her on Twitter @Jess_NHP.

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