Tennessee students are excelling at the fastest pace in the country, according to the latest federal education report.

According to the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the state achieved the best education progress numbers in the nation.

The NAEP exams assess fourth- and eighth-grade students in reading and math. Since the last testing cycle, Tennessee fourth-graders jumped from 46th in the country in math to 37th; and from 41st to 31st in reading.

Normal Park Museum Magnet School is one of the schools with improved test scores.  School Principal, Jill Levine, said students respond well to learning outside of the box.

"When students are getting their hands dirty, learning in the community, building, creating and problem solving...that translates into higher test scores," Levine said.

Fourth-graders like Maddie Perry enjoy doing hands-on lessons.

"I think we understand it more," said Perry. "We pay more attention, and it's not boring."

Math teacher, Denver Huffstutler, said the idea is simple: "If you set the bar high, they'll achieve it," he said.

Huffstutler attributes students' hard work, but also teachers' efforts in identifying and tailoring lessons to students' strengths and weaknesses.

According to the NAEP report, other areas of strong educational growth in Tennessee includes African American students' higher test scores. The report notes more special education students' participation in the exams as well.