(WMC) - Shelby County Schools are making strides, earning the state's highest growth rating.
This year's school level performance results are like an early Christmas present for staff members at the board headquarters and at a number of schools in the district.
Academic performance levels improved so much at Cherokee Elementary that the school earned its way off of the state of Tennessee's priority list for under-performing schools.
Cherokee is one of six iZone schools that have been removed from the list. A total of 15 schools were removed.
School leaders say students are doing better because of hard work, a variety of programs and things like longer school days and other measures to improve how well students do in class.
"The staff I have here at Cherokee work 25 hours a day, eight days a week. They never complain, they put children first," said Rodney Rowan, Cherokee Elementary Principal.
School leaders say plans are already under way to share successful techniques with other schools in the district and in time there will be increased academic success across the board.
"We have a science team, a math team that provide teachers with real time counseling and mentoring they need to be successful," Dr. Sharon Griffin of Shelby County Schools.
"It just shows you that despite what people think all kids can learn and they can learn at a very high level," said Dorsey Hopson, superintendent.