RCS Schools Ranked TOPS Nationwide

Dec 02, 2023 at 09:19 am by WGNS

U.S. News and World Report recently released its annual rankings of K-12 schools, both nationally and by state.

Three Rutherford County Schools — McFadden School of Excellence, Thurman Francis Arts Academy and Central Magnet School — all earned ratings in the top five in their designated grade bands for Tennessee schools.


For K-5 schools, McFadden School of Excellence and Thurman Francis Arts Academy finished first and fifth, respectively. Central Magnet School was rated as first for grades 6-8, with TFAA being rated second. At the high school level, Central was listed as second.

Rankings for elementary and middle schools were determined by the percentage of students who scored as proficient or above proficient in mathematics and reading/language arts on state assessments and how those results relate to a school’s socioeconomic demographics.

For high schools, U.S. News and World Report used a combination of data from state assessments, Advanced Placement exams, the U.S. Department of Education and International Baccalaureate exam data, where applicable.

All three schools are considered academic magnet schools by RCS and fall under the district’s Choice School offerings, which are open to applications from any parent in Rutherford County.

McFadden School of Excellence
McFadden became the first RCS academic magnet program at the start of the 1999-2000 school year. The U.S. Department of Education awarded it National Blue Ribbon School status for academic performance in 2013 and again in 2019.

McFadden focuses on communication arts through technology to enhance student learning and collaboration.

“We are always thankful for any recognition of the great things our students and teachers are doing here at McFadden. We are very blessed in Rutherford County to have not only our school, but Thurman Francis and Central Magnet listed in the top five,” Principal Dr. Clark Blair said. “Our goal at every school is to maximize learning and create opportunities for all students, and I think this ranking speaks highly of what our schools are doing.”

Thurman Francis Arts Academy
In 2000-2001, TFAA became RCS’ second magnet program, with a focus on arts integration. Students have the option to participate in accelerated coursework while participating in activities such as visual and performing arts, media arts, STEM and Spanish classes.

Thurman Francis earned its National Blue Ribbon designation in 2022.

“Being recognized among the top schools in Tennessee provides our community with a sense of pride and affirmation of the great things happening in our school,” principal Dr. Mark Gonyea said. “It is an honor to be spotlighted for the amazing work of our students, staff and community members.”

Central Magnet School
In addition to its second-place ranking among Tennessee high schools, Central also scored 38th  nationwide. Notable programs at the school include engineering, computer science, fine and performing arts.

“Any recognition reflects the hard work of our faculty and students,” Central principal Dr. John Ash said. “The entire Central family is proud of the accomplishment.”

Awarded Blue Ribbon status in 2020, Central has operated as a magnet school since 2010. It earned a Platinum rating from the AP School Honor Roll earlier this year for the Class of 2023’s performance and participation in Advanced Placement courses and exams.

Rutherford County Schools will hold a Choice School Fair for families to learn more about these and other choice programs from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 14 at Rocky Fork Middle School in Smyrna. More details are available at www.rcschools.net/choice/.

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