Staff Photo by Dan Henry / The Chattanooga Times Free Press- 11/4/15. Education Commissioner Candice McQueen speaks to media representatives while at the Chattanooga Times Free Press on Wednesday, November 4, 2015.

How students did

Percent of students in Tennessee’s large metro school districts that scored on track or mastered on TNReady:

State: 30.3% high school English; 20.8% high school math; 48.8% high school science; 29.9% US history

Hamilton County: 27.3%; 15.4%; 42.7%; 21.9%

Metro Nashville: 22.8%; 12.2%; 34.5%; 18.4%

Knox County: 35.6%; 27.8%; 56%; 38.5%

Shelby County: 19.5%; 7.7%; 28%; 15.1%

Source: Tennessee Department of Education

Percent of students in the region’s schools districts that scored on track or mastered on TNReady:

State: 30.3% high school English; 20.8% high school math; 48.8% high school science; 29.9% US history

Hamilton County: 27.3%; 15.4%; 42.7%; 21.9%

Bledsoe County: 20.7 %; 23.1%; 39.4%; 20.4%

Bradley County: 36%; 29.7%; 51.6%; 35.2%

Cleveland City: 32.6%; 21.9%; 53.8%; 20%

Grundy County: 22.8%; 9.4%; 39.1%; 25.8%

Marion County: 30.7%; 19.8%; 53.6%; 37.5%

McMinn County: 32.3%; 21%; 55.3%; 37.9%

Meigs County: 37%; 26.8%; 44.8%; 22.6%

Sequatchie County: 31.9%; 15.4%; 63.7%; 30.9%

Rhea County: 29%; 18.8%; 51.8%; 27%

Polk County: 29%; 20.3%; 54%; 25.6%

Source: Tennessee Department of Education

High school students in Hamilton County made significant improvements last year in literacy but still trail the state in English, math, science and history proficiency, according to standardized test data released Tuesday.

State education officials warned that the rollout of the new, more rigorous TNReady assessment would cause proficiency scores to drop, saying the results are a baseline moving forward.

"We see these results as an opportunity," said Tennessee's Education Commissioner Candice McQueen. "Our schools will grow from this reset moment."

TNReady results provide educators, parents and students with much more detailed information about individual student achievement and growth and how students are specifically meeting state academic standards. McQueen said schools and districts should strategically use the data to help both educators and students succeed.

"These scores show a student's potential trajectory, they are not a student's destiny," McQueen added.

TNReady results can't be compared to scores from previous years, as this was the first time high school students in Tennessee took the assessment, which is much more difficult and evaluates students' critical thinking and comprehension.

Along with TNReady scores, the state on Tuesday released academic growth data, which can be used as a year-to-year comparison. The Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System, known as TVAAS, tracks whether students make expected growth throughout the school year, comparing students to their peers and historical performance and not just a proficiency score.

Academic growth is measured by TVAAS on a scale of one to five, and a score of five means students exceeded expected growth.

Hamilton County high school students earned a score of five for literacy last school year, and Shelby County Schools, Metro Nashville Public Schools and the state-run Achievement School District also earned that top score.

In math, Hamilton County students received a level one TVAAS score. Shelby County and Metro Nashville students also earned a one, and Knox students posted a score of five.

Overall, Hamilton County high school students earned a level two TVAAS score for growth, meaning students made less than expected growth during the 2015-2016 school year. But the score is an improvement from the 2014-2015 school year when the district received a 1, the lowest possible score.

"While we would love to have fives in all areas, our emphasis on literacy shows we can make positive gains," Hamilton County Schools Interim Superintendent Kirk Kelly said in a statement. "Now we need to put the same emphasis on mathematics and science."

Brainerd High School, which is the district's only high school on the priority list, posted gains and received an overall growth score of three, meaning students made expected growth during the last school year. Schools performing in the bottom five percent of schools statewide are on the priority list, and the state said Hamilton County's five priority schools need to post a TVAAS score of a four or five this school year or they will be taken over by the state.

The increased rigor of TNReady and the drop in the state's overall proficiency rates is a result of the state working to better align with national grading standards. The new results are more on-track with the ACT national college readiness assessment, which show that the vast majority of Tennessee students do not graduate high school ready for college.

ACT results released earlier this year show that 16 percent of Hamilton County graduates are college ready, according to state and district data.

The TNReady report also has new descriptors for student performance — mastered, on track, approaching or below — indicating if a student has the expected understanding and skills expected of students in that grade or course.

In Hamilton County, 27.3 percent of high school students scored on-track or mastered in English; 15.4 percent in math; 42.7 percent in science and 21.9 percent in history.

Because of the testing debacle last school year in Tennessee and the eventual cancelation of TNReady testing for grades 3-8, reports for students in these grades will not be available until next fall.

Jill Levine, chief academic officer for Hamilton County Schools, said she anticipates future success as the district continues to implement its strategic plan.

"Today, we are thankful for the hard work of our students, teachers and principals," Levine said in a statement.

Contact staff writer Kendi A. Rainwater at 423-757-6592 or Follow on Twitter @kendi_and.