Sam Bratton: A teacher who impacted the world

Sandra ClarkObits, West Knoxville

A graveside service will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 10, at Highland Memorial Cemetery for Dr. Samuel E. Bratton Jr., who died Jan. 3 at home after a brief illness. He was 86. A career educator, he retired in 2000 from the position he held for 25 years as the coordinator for research and evaluation for Knox County Schools.

Throughout his career, he was widely recognized for his expertise in the area of testing and evaluation, serving on numerous state-wide committees and publishing in many professional journals. Upon retirement, he also served nationally as consultant for his work and research with Tennessee Value Added Assessment.

William Dycus, former internship facilitator at the University of Tennessee, posted a tribute to Dr. Bratton. It reads:

“There was a time when student achievement and school success was largely measured by comparing them to the US test averages in each grade and subject. Students from poverty always did poorly. Their teachers’ scores were poor. The schools were poor. Rich communities had all the top learners, teachers and schools.

“Sam Bratton was among school researchers that knew this was wrong. Poor kids sometimes were the best learners and rich schools were not always the best schools. He worked with some folks at UT and provided the real-world data to move Tennessee and much of the world toward a value-added model. The important thing in looking at schools is not the wealth of homes but the amount of learning occurring each year.

“Tennessee worked with a group of educators and adopted value added assessments. Independent measures of Tennessee student achievement soared from near the bottom to near the top in the US. Other states followed Tennessee. Other nations picked up on the trend.

“A Knox County teacher had a positive impact on tens of millions of students by changing the way we look at school. … Remember the impact a teacher can have on the world.”

Survivors include his wife, Martha Jean Bratton, longtime principal in Knox County Schools; daughter and son-in-law, Sarah and Rob Brengle; and son Matthew Bratton. His grandchildren are Sam and Emory Kate Brengle. Read the full obituary here.

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