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MSCS superintendent touts district is "stronger than ever", despite 11% success score

Data shows just an 11% success rate for students, meaning those who are on track have mastered skills on annual state tests.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray said Memphis-Shelby County Schools are the strongest it’s ever been, despite troubling success scores.

After Wednesday’s address, he responded to questions about academic hurdles.

“The state of Memphis-Shelby County Schools is strong,” said Dr. Ray to a crowd at the State of the District. “Stronger than ever."

But, is it?

Dr. Ray shared his optimistic message to a mostly online audience during Wednesday morning's progress report on infrastructure investment and Pre-K expansion.

A look at Tennessee Department of Education Data shows just an 11% success rate for students, meaning those who are on track or have mastered skills on annual state tests, which was not addressed in Ray’s presentation. 

The state success rate stands at 28%. 

“I don’t think 11% is a true indicator of how our children will perform and if you heard me today I talked about really believing in our children and really believing in our teachers,” said Ray. “We own it.”

The state said Memphis-Shelby County has a 14.8% achievement in English Language Arts and 7.5% in math.  

When asked about the failing scores, Ray mentioned the struggles of the pandemic. 

“We started addressing it last year, as you know last year our students spent well over a year doing virtual learning,” Ray explained. “You’ve heard me say virtual learning, it wasn’t ideal but it’s not broken.”

Ray also said the district is working to address the learning gap with increased tutoring and altered classroom sizes.

“If you look at the before, during, and after-school tutoring, we were named a 'Best for All' school district. That’s to impact academic achievement,” Ray added. “If you look at what we’re doing with K-2 — lowering the teacher-student ratio from 25:1 to 13:1 — that’s going to impact academic achievement.”

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