SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Area schools made up a full third of the ones recognized as "Exemplary" by the state Dept. of Education. Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman unveiled the list at an event in Sevier Co. Seven of the 21 schools on the list were in East Tennessee.
"We're excited with the overall results across the state, and we particularly want to highlight those districts that have excelled in both areas," said Huffman.
The designation recognizes districts that "significantly improved student performance and narrowed achievement gaps under Tennessee's new accountability system."
Local districts that earned Exemplary recognition:
"Growing results while closing achievement gaps is incredibly hard work," added Huffman.
The top county systems include Blount, Claiborne, Fayette, Henry, Loudon, Marshall, Rutherford, Sequatchie, Sevier, Smith and Trousdale.
Also earning the designation were city or special school districts in Fayetteville, Hollow Rock-Bruceton, Franklin, McKenzie, Milan, Newport, Rogersville, South Carroll, Sweetwater and Union City.
The Dept. of Education's new accountability system replaces the No Child Left Behind Annual Yearly Progress measures. Instead of holding all districts to the same benchmarks, the Dept. of Education said its system acknowledges districts start from different places and rewards growth.
In 2011-2012, all schools exhibited growth, it said, but many of them were not able to close the achievement gaps or saw them grow.