In about two weeks, students across Middle Tennessee will participate in the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program, better known as TCAP tests.
Metro schools have struggled to meet standards in the past, but the district has made some gains recently.
Now, the state has set the goal of raising TCAP scores 4 to 5 percent, so Metro Nashville Public Schools has rolled out an intense intervention program to drive the numbers up districtwide.
"A few years ago, we were definitely struggling with our numbers," said third-grade teacher Kate Viebranz.
In 2010, only 33 percent of MNPS students were performing at or above proficiency in reading and just under 26 percent in math.
At Cole Elementary School, the number was even lower as just 25 percent of the students were proficient in reading.
"We deal with a large (English-as-second-language) population, and so we struggle a lot with language and vocabulary portions of TCAP, which is the largest portions of TCAP," Viebranz said.
Now, the school is enlisting volunteers, educators and aides to teach everything from Saturday classes to after-school programs.
The result has been double-digit gains.
At Cole, those educators are in the classroom seven hours a day, five days a week providing targeted lessons on topics like reading comprehension, vocabulary and writing.
"Small groups really gives us a chance to look at kids, and they get to work with us and ask us questions in a very small group setting," said reading intervention teacher Rosemary Jenkins.
That includes students like 8-year-old Natalie Rodriguez.
"It helps me know a little bit more words that I didn't know before," she said.
"Even as third and fourth-graders, they can learn to highlight, they can learn to pull out tricky answers," Viebranz said. "And so we really started focusing on those things, and it made a huge difference."
It's a strategy that aims to help the school reach its goal and the students' full potential.
In Davidson County, students will take the TCAP tests starting April 23.
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