All three local public school districts have been celebrating the Tennessee Department of Education’s release this month of performance data from last spring’s state testing.

Across Tennessee, 61 school districts have a total of 188 “Reward” schools, which scored among the top 5% in the state based on academic achievement or growth.

Maryville City Schools has six. “It should have been seven out of seven,” Director Mike Winstead said during last week’s school board meeting.

He explained Maryville High School “was just a kid or two short” of testing 95% of students during the pandemic last spring, the level required to be recognized. “Certainly performance-wise, MHS was well into the Reward school category,” Winstead said.

“I’m going to claim that we have seven Reward schools, even though the state says it’s six,” he said to laughter.

Maryville City Schools was one of only seven districts the state Department of Education named “Exemplary” for the past school year.

Alcoa High School also was named a Reward school. Alcoa City Schools Director Becky Stone said based on the formula the state uses, the middle school missed the mark by only 0.2 of a point and the intermediate school by 0.7 of a point, while the elementary school is ineligible because it serves students only until grade two.

“It gives me chills how proud I am of our schools and what they were able to accomplish during a pandemic,” Stone told the Alcoa Board of Education last week.

From Blount County Schools, three of 22 qualified as Reward schools: Porter Elementary, Prospect Elementary and the Samuel Everett School of Innovation.

Eagleton and Heritage middle schools also scored well enough to be removed from Targeted Support and Improvement Schools list, where they landed in 2019 after scoring in the bottom 5% in the state in at least one student subgroup, such as economically disadvantage students.

Education Reporter

Amy Beth earned her degree from West Virginia. She joined The Daily Times in 2016 on the education beat covering Alcoa, Maryville and Blount County school systems.

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