There are approximately 50,000 ELs enrolled in Tennessee schools . Although ELs are located in schools across the state , enrollments are greatest in a few school districts . Together , Shelby County Schools and Metro Nashville Public Schools serve half of all ELs in the state , and more than 75 percent are served by 10 school districts . 4 The increased rates of EL proficiency on NAEP are reflected by larger gains among urban Tennessee districts over recent years .
Although urban districts have sustained gains over recent years and suburban districts have either increased student proficiency rates or remained at past levels , town and rural districts have largely remained flat , or even declined .
FIGURE 16 . TENNESSEE GRADE 8 NAEP MATH SCORES BY LOCATION
290 280 270 260
Source : NAEP , 2015
STATE ASSESSMENTS AND TNREADY
The 2015-16 school year represented a reset for state assessments . Tennessee ’ s new assessments reflect a higher set of expectations for students , and proficiency level cut scores approved in 2016 by the State Board of Education demonstrate the state ’ s commitment to high expectations for all students . Together these changes represent a shift in how Tennessee defines how well students are tracking toward college and career readiness . According to the Tennessee Department of Education ( TDOE ), students have the following range of chances to meet ACT college readiness based on proficiency level reached :
• Below : 1-10 percent chance
• Approaching : 10-30 percent chance
• On Track : 60-80 percent chance
• Mastered : 85-100 percent chance
Results from the 2015-16 school year provide a more honest view of whether Tennessee students are mastering the skills and knowledge they need to have by graduation day . Substantially fewer students statewide scored at the highest performance levels on end-of-course exams in 2016 , and in Tennessee ’ s largest urban districts especially low numbers of students achieved at high levels . For example , in Shelby County Schools — the state ’ s largest district by enrollment — less than 7 percent of students scored at grade-level or above on the Algebra I exam , compared to a statewide average of 21 percent . In English , Shelby County Schools ’ passage rate trailed the state ’ s average by 11 percentage points . However , students in Shelby County Schools demonstrated very high levels of literacy growth . 5