Reward and Priority Schools

As part of Tennessee’s accountability system, the state runs a list of Reward Schools every year, and a list of Priority Schools every three years. The next lists will be released in 2020

For more info on these state designations, see the Tennessee Department of Education.

Reward Schools

Reward Schools are in the state’s top 5% for either performance (overall academic achievement), progress (student growth), or both. In 2019, 44 out of Tennessee’s 427 Reward Schools were located in Shelby County. 22 of those schools operate within the Shelby County Schools district

  • This list of Reward Schools in Shelby County contains a good mix of traditional, Optional, iZone and charter schools, proving that no one model has a monopoly on success.
  • It’s nice to note that a lot of schools being recognized for academic progress (or growth) are serving a high percentage of economically disadvantaged students. These schools are beating the odds for their students.

Priority Schools

Priority Schools are the lowest-performing 5% of schools in Tennessee, in terms of academic achievement. They are eligible for turnaround by the Achievement School District or the Shelby County Schools’ Innovation Zone. A majority of the state’s Priority Schools are located in Shelby County.

  • While the number of schools located in Shelby County on this list is somewhat discouraging, more hopeful is the fact that the number has decreased since the list was last run.
  • Many schools on the Priority List are already receiving “treatment” as part of the ASD or iZone, so you don’t necessarily need to write these schools off just because they’re on the Priority List. It pays to investigate for yourself what changes may have happened in the past couple of years that may or may not be reflected in the test scores that put them on this list.
  • As always, a visit to the school and an interview with the principal is a good idea.