BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
NASHVILLE -- South Greene High School is among the top 5 percent of schools in the state for annual growth in student achievement.
The Tennessee Department of Education listed a total of 169 schools as 2012-13 Reward Schools, which are those schools that are either the top 5 percent of schools in the state for annual growth and the top 5 percent for academic achievement.
South Greene was the only school in the Greeneville or Greene County school systems that the state named as a Reward School this year.
"We're blessed," said Dr. Cindy Bowman, South Greene's principal. "We just have a hardworking staff that wants to see each of our students be successful."
She complimented all members of her staff, from the numerous top-evaluated teachers to the custodial staff, for showing love and concern for the students.
"We try to establish that early, that we're going to try to do whatever we can to help you," she said. "I'm just proud of our kids; we've got such great kids.
The high school also made the list last year for both growth and achievement.
"You've just got to roll your sleeves up and do your best. Focus on what's important -- and that's student success," Bowman said.
Tennessee has set out to become the fastest-improving educational system in the country by raising student performance each year, according to a news release from Gov. Bill Haslam's office.
Haslam and Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman made the announcement earlier this week.
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.
"Tennessee continues to set the standard in education reform as we maintain our focus on high levels of achievement and continuous growth," Haslam said. "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."
This year's Reward Schools 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 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, according to the release.
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."