Student performance on the 2012 Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program tests improved significantly in school districts across the state, the Tennessee Department of Education announced Thursday.
Leading the pack was Williamson County where schools director Dr. Mike Looney dodged balloons at district headquarters while saying, "We are the highest performing school district, without exception, for all of the content areas, in the state of Tennessee, congratulations."
Receiving the laurels were dozens of Williamson County teachers and administrators who had gathered at the school headquarters to hear the good news.
Dr. Looney pointed to one statistic that stood out from others among the district's 32,000 students.
"Only 1.5% of our students did not meet basic reading requirements, that's unheard of," added Looney.
Teachers and administrators cited many factors for keeping Williamson County on top, but new this year are TCAP scores making up some of a student's grade, and those scores accounting for a portion of teacher evaluations.
"When you have the teacher, the county, and those students all working for the same goal, then you are going to see great results," Williamson County 4th grade teacher Cecile Gentry told Nashville's News 2.
Metro Nashville schools director Jesse Register said the improving numbers in his district that take the system out of a state warning status for progress.
"We have made seven of nine performance goals," said Register. "What is most important to me is that we a very good solid trend line of improvement."
One of those "lines of improvement was a dramatic double digit gains in seventh grade math.
Metro Middle School Superintendent Dr. Laura Hall cited one of the reasons.
"We have an intervention program, that's built into the school day that is also for help," she said.
According to a news release from the Tennessee Department of Education, nearly all of the state's 136 districts saw proficiently levels increase, and two-thirds improved in every subject of the test for grades three through eight.
"The widespread improvement shows that efforts to raise student outcomes are working in many districts," Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman said. "Our students, teachers and administrators worked incredibly hard, and we are gratified that so many districts were able to significantly grow results."
District proficiency levels reveal major improvements in math skills.
More than 50 districts saw double-digit growth over last year in Algebra I, with some reporting gains greater than 30 percentage points.
Additionally, 23 districts saw double-digit growth in math scores for grades three through eight.