County celebrates Imagination
Value-added scores add confusion to report
Fentress man arrested for baby's murder
celebrates Imagination Library
photo courtesy of the Stephens Center
Preparing for the parent registration for Imagination Library
this Saturday at the Chamber of Commerce are, from left, Dian Dillon,
of Upper Cumberland Resource Agency, Overton County Mayor Kenneth
Copeland, Donna Hall, of the Stephens Center, and Janet Gann, of
Overton County Public Library.
Overton County has joined 34 other Tennessee counties
with the creation of their own Imagination Library program, and
will host a public celebration and parent/child registration on
Saturday, Jan. 29 from 10 a.m. to noon at Livingston-Overton County
Chamber of Commerce.
First National Bank will provide refreshments.
The Imagination Library program was created by Dolly
Parton in 1996, and provides a new, age-appropriate, hardcover book
each month to children from birth to age 5 at no cost to the family.
The Imagination Library is now available in more than 385 communities
in 39 states.
The total cost of the program is only $27 per child
per year, which includes 12 hardcover books, postage, shipping and
handling, and reflects absolutely no administrative overhead costs.
The total cost is split equally between each county
program and the Governor's Books from Birth Foundation.
To assist with Imagination Library efforts throughout
the state, Gov. Bredesen last year established the Governor's Books
from Birth Foundation and has partnered with the Dollywood Foundation
to provide the best available resources, assistance, and training
to Tennesseans seeking to establish their own county-wide Imagination
The foundation now offers matching funds to pay 50
percent of the cost of county-wide Imagination Library book orders,
as approved by Gov. Bredesen and the General Assembly.
Overton County's Imagination Library is made possible
through the collective efforts of Overton County Mayor Kenneth Copeland
and his office, the county commissioners, the office of General
Sessions Judge John Officer, First National Bank, and numerous community
partners and individuals.
These donors seek to offer the Imagination Library
program to each of Overton County's 1,240 children under age 5.
All Overton County parents are encouraged to attend
Saturday's kick-off and register their children under age 5 to receive
a free, hardcover, age-appropriate book every month.
For more information about the Governor's Books from
Birth Foundation visit online at www.governorsfoundation.org.
For more information about the Imagination Library
program call Carolyn Isbell, director of the Stephens Center, at
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scores add confusion to report card
By BETH UNDERWOOD, OCN staff
When Tennessee Department of Education report cards were released
in November, scores showed Overton County students achieving at
adequate levels or better. When value-added scores were added to
the report cards last week, the additional grades appeared to reflect
poorly on the school system, at least on the surface.
But as Director of Schools Bill Needham explained,
the value-added scores are not meant to shed a bad light on the
county students - or teachers.
"You have to know the difference in the two scores,"
Needham said. "We're still at and above state levels on achievement.
Our kids achieved as well on average as the average student in Tennessee.
"The value-added scores showed that we didn't
make the average amount of gain that the average student in Tennessee
made, based on a three-year average," he said.
In previous years, students had been graded on a norm-reference
scale, which compared the students to others in the nation. The
shift from the previous accountability system to the federal No
Child Left Behind system, which includes the value-added scores,
The value-added scores provide insight into where
improvements can be made, as well as areas where students are progressing
above the mark. By examining these scores, teachers and principals
cannot only see how a class is progressing on the whole; they can
also identify groups, and even individual students, within the class.
"It should be a very good tool for teachers and
principals to understand what their students have mastered and what
they haven't mastered, and make adjustments to their curriculum,"
Director Needham said.
Making those adjustments with more than half the school
year already over could prove a bit tricky, though.
"One thing that bothers me is it's almost test
time again," Needham said. "We have a much shorter window
to analyze the data, make adjustments, and get prepared for this
next test. This is information teachers need at the beginning of
The shift from norm-referenced testing to criterion-referenced
testing caused a delay in the release of this year's scores. The
state does plan to release scores earlier in the future.
While Needham does see the changes as another opportunity
to improve students' learning, he said he does not think the value-added
scores should be overemphasized. He said he is not as concerned
about the scores as he is curious about how to use the information
to implement the changes.
"The fear I have in all this is that we'll leave
out some of the things kids enjoy learning, things that are good
knowledge for them to have, and worry about whether it's on the
test or not," he said.
But as educators learn to balance what they teach
in the classrooms by evaluating both achievement and value-added
scoring results, this new insight should prove to be a valuable
tool, he noted.
"As a teacher, you've got to know the subject
matter and be comfortable teaching it; and you've got to know the
various methods to use it," Needham said.
"This is one of those tools. That's the bottom
line. That's how it needs to be used and that's what we're trying
"If the teachers are more effective in the classroom,
our kids' achievement improves, and that's why we're here."
The full school system report card, including school-by-school
reports, is available online at www.tennessee.gov/education.
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man arrested for baby's murder
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has arrested a Fentress
County man on charges of 1st Degree Murder and Aggravated Child
Abuse in the death of his 10 month-old daughter.
Billy Scott Sells, 25, of Oak Apartments in Jamestown,
was arrested at the Fentress County Courthouse on Friday, Jan. 21,
where he was attending a Department of Children's Services hearing
for an unrelated matter.
Sells had been caring for his daughter, Brylee Rose
Sells, when she died the morning of Christmas Eve. Autopsy reports
indicate the child was beaten and smothered to death.
The autopsy placed the time of death between 1 a.m.
and 5 p.m. December 24. Her mother, Jennifer Rose Talley, was not
at the residence at that time, according to reports.
Sells was incarcerated in Fentress County Jail on
a $100,000 bond.
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Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570