Cooper: Hamilton County Schools writes a new headline with continued improving test scores

Staff Photo By Troy Stolt / Dr. Nakia Towns, interim superintendent of Hamilton County Schools, speaks during a presentation about test scores for the 2020-2021 school year at Woodmore Elementary School last month.

The excitement in the voice of Dr. Nakia Towns, interim superintendent of Hamilton County Schools, was unmistakeable. She was clear that she wanted another headline.

In revealing information about the district's 2020-2021 school-level standardized test scores to Times Free Press reporters and editors Wednesday, she showed a 2016 newspaper front page in which a graphic used sharpened pencils to make a point about the lack of local teacher effectiveness.

Towns had something much better to report.

Cementing the county's status as the fastest-improving district in the state were TVASS numbers that showed 67 Hamilton County schools met or exceeded growth standards (nine more than in 2016-2017); 34 schools received designations of distinction for their reward school status, their growth or both; 27 schools increased achievement from 2019 (tests weren't taken in 2020); and 82% of teachers met or exceeded the growth standard (19% more than in 2016-2017).

In