City school officials say standardized test results encouraging

Memphis City School leaders say more schools are measuring up to nationwide standards, thanks to a boost in standardized test results.

At a press conference Wednesday, officials said in the past three years, Memphis City Schools have made a lot of progress, making sure that students are prepared deal with T-CAP and Gateway exams.
Not only are students improving, but it means the district's federal funding is in less danger, something district leaders are celebrating.  Superintendent Dr. Carol Johnson couldn't hide her emotion.

"They've worked so hard to get to this place, it makes you want to cry," she said. "It's tears of joy, though."
Johnson said 21 Memphis City Schools now meet what is called Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP.  That is the measurement tool defined by the federal No Child Left Behind act signed into law by President Bush in 2001.

AYP is based on how well students do on standardized tests, like T-CAP and Gateway exams.  Schools that fail to measure up end up on the High Priority List.  For Memphis City Schools, the number of High Priority Schools keeps decreasing.

In 2004-05 school year, there were 62 schools on the list.  The following school year showed some progress, with only 57 schools on the list.  This year, only 36 schools remain in the High Priority category.

At Humes Middle School, one of the schools now off the list, Principal Michael Bates took some unusual measures to make sure students, especially those at high risk, succeeded.

"We called it our T-CAP Boot Camp," Bates said. "What we did with those children, we adjusted their schedules, with their parents permission, to give them more instructional time in reading, language arts, as well as mathematics."
Boot Camp worked, but Johnson said more work needs to be done.  "None of us can rest until all of our schools are in good standing, and all of our students are graduating," she said.
Johnson said the district still has work to do, but the trend is encouraging.