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Otis: We must continue to push for SCS progress

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Good academic news is sometimes hard to find in many of our public schools so it's worth noting whenever there is even modest improvement in the Shelby County School District.

A new state report shows that significantly fewer county schools now rank in the bottom five percent of schools statewide. Of the 82 schools at the bottom, 42 are in Shelby County. That is down from 54 in 2016 - and 69 in 2012.

In fact, of the 42 schools from Shelby County still on the poorest performing list, just 26 are within the county district. The remaining 16 are part of the Achievement School District which is run by the state.

But despite this positive sign, nearly 40 other county schools are in the bottom 10 percent. Which is a sobering reminder of the work that still must be done to make our public schools better.

Of course we know that standardized test scores are not the begin all and end all of student success, but they do provide an indication of how well students are learning. They cannot be totally ignored.

The point is, in a school system that constantly deals with poverty, homelessness, broken families and other issues that interfere with learning, any progress is better than no progress. We must continue to encourage and push administrators, teachers and students to keeping striving for improvement.