Two of the top three middle schools in the state of Tennessee — Central Magnet School, first, and Thurman Francis Arts Academy, third — are from Rutherford County, according to the first-ever “Best K-8 Schools” rankings of public elementary and middle schools by the U.S. News & World Report.
McFadden School of Excellence topped the list of elementary schools, while Thurman Francis was ranked in the top five percent of the more than 1,100 schools analyzed from throughout the state.
“While we have been celebrating our success as a Level 5 “Reward School” already,” said Jeff McCann, principal at Thurman Francis, “this will give us even more to celebrate. I can’t wait to communicate this to our entire community. It is just further evidence of the great things going on at Thurman Francis Arts Academy.”
McCann added, “My hope is that it will give staff and students even more reason to love life (at Thurman Francis).”
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Testing metrics indicated 98 percent of the middle school students at Central were at or above reading expectations and 97 percent were at or above math expectation, while 80 percent at Thurman Francis were at or above expectations in math and 71 percent in reading.
Central and Thurman Francis were described as both being “well above expectations” by U.S. News & World Report.
“We’re excited that our hard work is recognized,” Central principal Dr. John Ash said. “Our teachers and students have always put in a lot of effort, and it’s nice to see it being appreciated.”
Rutherford County, which is identified as a mid-size city, is no stranger to being atop the rankings by the publication.
In recent years, Central has been the No. 1 ranked high school in the state of Tennessee on more than one occasion and is currently list at No. 2 in the state of Tennessee. Perhaps, more impressive is that Central is also ranked 19th in the nation.
Given the top-rating of its middle school coupled with Thurman Francis—at both the middle and elementary levels—and McFadden, all which feed into Central, the high school is positioned to maintain its statewide and national standing among the top performing secondary schools in the country.
PHOTOS / JAMES EVANS and KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT