Claiborne County teacher explains improved student test scores

Claiborne County teacher explains improved student test scores

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Danna Smith says one reason students' test scores are improving is new technology like electronic interactive Smart Boards. Danna Smith says one reason students' test scores are improving is new technology like electronic interactive Smart Boards.

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

TAZEWELL (WATE) - A middle school in Claiborne County has achieved Reward School status from the state.

Gov. Bill Haslam announced the top performing and improving schools on Monday. The new evaluation system replaces No Child Left Behind.

Soldier's Memorial Middle School is in the top five percent of schools in the state for academic improvement.

Danna Smith has been teaching at Soldiers Memorial for 20 years. She's now the seventh grade language arts teacher.

She says the secret to success is connecting with the students. "What are you interested in and how can I as an educator use those interests to make the students be a better written and verbal communicator?" Smith explained.

Director of Schools Connie Holdway says analyzing all the educational data that is collected helps the teachers be more effective.

"We get to the root analysis of the data, and we see specifically what we need to work on with each child," Holdway said.

Smith says to be a good educator, it's important to be available. All parents and students have her personal email and can reach her anytime.

"Technology, social media, if done properly can make a classroom open 24 hours a day," Smith said.

She also says one reason why the students' test scores are improving is new technology like electronic interactive white boards called Smart Boards. A projector displays a computer's video output on the board. Then it acts as a large touch screen.

"They not only have me presenting information to them, they can have multi-media presenting information to them in a second," Smith said.

In many classrooms, students also use remotes to answer questions written on the Smart Board. The data is saved, and teachers can see who needs improvement where.

If a student is absent, all lessons on the Smart Board are saved and can be emailed.

Smith says the school's position in the top 5 percent of Tennessee's academic improvement is just the start.

"Our student population at one time would have been at risk. We are not at risk. We are in motion, just wait and see what happens," she said.

Smith believes the upward trend in test scores will continue. She hopes industries will see the improvement and eventually want to open in Claiborne County, creating more jobs for parents and students in the future.

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