Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman announced 169 schools as the 2012-13 Reward Schools, the top 5 percent of schools in the state for annual growth and the top 5 percent for academic achievement.
The Reward Schools span 52 districts across the state and include 70 schools that serve mostly economically disadvantaged populations.
"Tennessee continues to set the standard in education reform as we maintain our focus on high levels of achievement and continuous growth," Haslam said at an event held at Percy Priest Elementary, recognized for its overall academic achievement. "Our Reward Schools have proven that all students can learn and grow even though their starting lines may be different, a critical part of our effort to prepare our students for the jobs available in the marketplace now and in the future. We are incredibly grateful for the teachers and staff at each of these schools and excited to recognize their efforts on behalf of Tennessee students."
Tennessee has set out to become the fastest-improving educational system in the country by raising student performance each year. For the second year, the state has recognized Tennessee schools that have shown the most progress year-over-year alongside the schools with the highest achievement scores on statewide tests.
This year's list recognizes 70 schools for overall academic achievement, and 83 schools for annual value-added growth. The list also names 16 schools that earned both designations, rising to the top 5 percent for annual value-added growth while also ranking in the state's top 5 percent for overall achievement.
The 2012-13 Reward Schools made these impressive accomplishments during a year when Tennessee saw consistent gains on the statewide Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program, or TCAP. As schools across the state made improvements and reached higher levels of proficiency, the 169 Reward Schools led the way.
Because Tennessee's accountability system rewards growth and recognizes schools' varying baselines, every school in the state can strive for the Reward Schools designation.
"We believe that all students deserve strong schools where they can grow to high levels of achievement," Huffman said. "At the beginning of each year, every school in this state should know that they have a shot at becoming a Reward School."