Every student in Cleveland City Schools deserves and has the right to free and appropriate education. Education is a fundamental right and our students are the primary reason for the school district to even exist. Over the last few years, our system, as well as schools across the country, have dealt with an ongoing pandemic. The pandemic and related issues have taken a substantial role on students and staff alike. That is especially true when dealing with the mental health of some of our most vulnerable students. Our academic core is very important to the mission and vision of our school system. To that end, our teachers and support staff have worked tirelessly to implement a high-quality curriculum to meet the stringent standards set forth by the Tennessee State Department of Education and the Tennessee State Board of Education.
This past year, our student achievement rates showed improvement at the elementary level in English and math. At Cleveland Middle, academic achievement rates rose for English, math, and social studies. Finally, at Cleveland High, our students showed academic progress in Algebra 1, Biology, English I and II, and U.S. History. Also at the high school level, this past year showed the highest success rate yet for students taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses and scoring 3 or higher on their exams. Many colleges grant students that score a 3 or higher college credit for those courses. Diving deeper, nearly 50% of students in AP Literature scored a 3 or higher and there was a 16% increase in the number of students in AP Human Geography that scored a 3 or higher. Those percentages are higher than Tennessee and global averages for those courses. We also saw improvements in AP Psychology, AP Calculus, AP Statistics, and AP European History. I am also proud to say that our ACT and Ready Graduate percentages are also continuing to climb.
I say all of this to simply state this - students are learning in our schools. Our benchmark assessments show academic achievement is happening every day in our classrooms. Our teachers and support staff are highly educated, trained, hard-working professionals who not only know their subject areas, but they know their students by name and ability. Cleveland City Schools is proud to be one of the more diverse school systems in our state. Here are some statistics* just so the public understands our diversity better:
● 42.1% of our student population is considered economically disadvantaged
● Our Race/Ethnicity:
○ 51% White
○ 26.3% Hispanic
○ 10.3% Black
○ 9.6% Multi-Ethnic
○ 1.9% Asian
○ .1% Native American
● 15.3% of our students are English as a Second Language
Again, this diversity is a strength for students in our district and it prepares them for life outside of school. The improvements we are seeing are a result of teachers, students, support staff, and our families working together. That work must continue forward, but it will take time to recover and not all goals may be achieved in one or two years. Teachers, administrators, students, families, the school board, and others will have a voice in the direction we take to ensure our shared vision and mission for Cleveland City Schools continues.
To our teachers and administrators, you are appreciated and supported by me, our board, and our community. To our support staff, thank you for your role in making sure our students cared for each day. To our community and families, I appreciate your role in showing care and concern for our students and staff. Finally, to our students. You’re my why and our collective why. I support you wholeheartedly and will continue to champion you in decisions that are made in our central office as well as by our school board.
This year my goals are simply this:
Actively engage, support, and listen to our teachers and all employees;
Be present in the lives of our students by visiting classrooms and their activities;
Build deeper connections with our Cleveland community to showcase the positive in
Cleveland City Schools
To the residents of Cleveland, your school system is thought of highly in our state and region. Trust me when I tell you that we continue to be a system of choice for our students, employees, and other school systems wanting to come and visit and take away new ideas. This doesn’t just happen. Our employees, school board, student body, and our community make a difference. Thank you for trusting Cleveland City Schools with our children’s education and I wish each of you the best as we open the 2022-2023 school year!
Russell Dyer, Ed.D., Director of Schools
*statistics accurate as of the date of publication