A Friendly Reminder

The National Charter Schools Conference is in Nashville this week and includes a number of sessions, including one highlighting the work of the Tennessee Achievement School District.

Here’s how that session is described:

From Recovery to Extraordinary: States and Charter Schools Working Together

The Louisiana Recovery School District and the Tennessee Achievement School District have brought new attention to the role that charter schools can play in replacing poor performing schools. They have also tested the theory that the freedoms associated with chartering can in fact benefit those who are the most at risk. This panel will explore the role that charters have played in serving the hardest to educate and what policymakers should consider to better serve these students.

This session happened today and included a presentation from TN ASD Superintendent Malika Anderson.

It’s interesting that the TN ASD is pitched as a success story, given that the results have been mixed at best.

In fact, the community at Neely’s Bend in Nashville was not too happy about being thrown into a sort of Thunderdome for school survival back in 2014. But it seems unlikely that Anderson mentioned that.

The ASD community relations effort in Memphis has been so bad that the local NAACP chapter has called for a moratorium on expansion there.

There’s also been some pretty thorough analysis of what appeared to be a rigged Neighborhood Advisory Committee process.

Then, there’s the Vanderbilt University study that suggests the ASD isn’t quite getting the promised results:

While there were some changes year-to-year — up and down — there was no statistical improvement on the whole, certainly not enough to catapult these low-performing schools into some of the state’s best, which was the lofty goal.

This followed a report by Gary Rubinstein noting the ASD’s numbers simply aren’t that great:

As you can see, four of the original six schools are still in the bottom 5% while the other two have now ‘catapulted’ to the bottom 6%.

Oh, and that Neely’s Bend school that was taken over by ASD-approved operator LEAD? Turns out, it was turning around on it’s own and performing better than many ASD schools:

Neely’s Bend is showing a growth rate well above the district average and has posted consecutive years of growth in both Math and Science, with some pretty solid numbers in Science over the past two years.

While testing chaos has been cited as a reason to pause ASD expansion plans for the moment, it’s also been noted that the ASD has moved beyond the original, planned mission:

Instead, the ASD has followed a rather bumpy path, growing while struggling to meet performance goals. The ASD needs growth of 8-10 points a year in the schools it operates in order to hit its targets — and it is well below that number now. That may be in part due to the rapid growth beyond original expectations.

The point is this: The Tennessee ASD is hardly a success story. It’s a great story of PR spin and fun cocktail parties, but the actual results are limited, at best. And, it’s operated with quite a bit of controversy in both Memphis and Nashville. It’s never a good plan to pit one school against another in a fight for education survival. And it is certainly not clear that the ASD plan is better than the turnaround that was already occurring at Nashville’s Neely’s Bend.

Those looking to Tennessee for guidance on how to create an “Achievement School District” would be best served using our state’s experience as a guide for what not to do.

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport


 

 

 

 

 

Ready to Pause

Citing what has been a rough transition year to TNReady, the Achievement School District announced a pause on school takeovers for next year.

Chalkbeat has the story:

The Achievement School District will not seek to take over more low-performing schools in the 2017-18 school year because of the state’s transition to its new K-12 assessment this year, district leaders said Friday.

The decision is consistent with allowances being shown by the State Department of Education over student grades and teacher evaluations due to the failed rollout of TNReady, according to the announcement by Tennessee’s school turnaround district.

Critics of the ASD applauded the move as a step in the right direction:

“It’s a positive first step toward a series of course corrections that need to happen with the Achievement School District. I’m glad the state is listening,” said Will Pinkston, a Nashville board member who sponsored the resolution for an ASD moratorium, approved just this week by Nashville’s school board.

More on the ASD:

Memphis NAACP Says No More ASD

Rhetoric vs. Reality: ASD Edition

The ASD’s NAC for Problems

Resolved: No More ASD

 

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

 

Mary Pierce on the ASD Resolution

Nashville School Board Member Mary Pierce took to Facebook to discuss the passage of a resolution calling for a moratorium on school takeovers from the ASD. Her comments are below.

After getting a few confused questions about the ASD Resolution passed on Tuesday night, I’m posting the YouTube link of the meeting & this discussion begins around 1:53 mark. The initial stated purpose of the proposed resolution called for a moratorium of ASD takeovers based on the first year of TN Ready Scores. Given that the state has acknowledged TN Ready issues and excluded use of scores in teacher evaluations, this type of resolution made sense to me.

However, when I received our agenda packet, I read the resolution presented as one that went well beyond this call for a one-year moratorium. It is my opinion that it made subjective allegations against the ASD, referenced that MNPS *might* implement the same type of IZone as Shelby County Schools and asked for funding to do just that (yet our board has never discussed this), and generally was written with a tone of which I did not agree. And, as I stated Tuesday night, it must be owned that there was nothing preventing Shelby County from implementing an iZone prior to the external pressure applied by the presence of the ASD. I also find it ironic that the gains heralded by many about the SCS iZone are based on the very same TCAP/TVAAS scores deemed flawed by those same people when used on district schools that are not performing as well. But that’s a whole other topic.

I amended the resolution (below with the original and my tracked changes) which still requested a one year reprieve from ASD takeovers based on the first year TN Ready scores, and also asked for local education agencies (LEAs) to be included in the legislative committee summer study the TN DOE has announced for “ASD Clean-Up,” including plans to return the takeover schools back to the LEAs as soon as practicable. (Edit: Click here to see original post with picture)

This amended version failed in a 4:4 vote (Dr. Gentry had left for a community meeting) and then Mr. Pinkston’s original resolution passed 5:3 with Elissa Kim, Tyese Hunter and I voting against.

By the way, resolutions are simply statements of resolve and often a request–like this one–but they have no binding authority.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfq6F4Q8d6k


 

RTTT Had Everything to do With Charter Schools

I was sent a Facebook comment by Nashville School Board Member Will Pinkston in regards to the Race to the Top grant that Tennessee won in 2010. Pinkston claims that Race to the Top had nothing to do with charter schools. Race to the Top had everything to do with charter schools.

PinkstonComment

 

Before I break down the Race to the Top application, let’s revisit the Will Pinkston of 2013 after he was elected to the school board. In 2013, Pinkston praised Kevin Huffman and Bill Haslam for their work in continuing the reform started under Bredesen. Pinkston also endorsed Haslam in 2010, around the time he worked for Bill Frist’s State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE).

Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 10.04.35 PM

 

Pinkston also advocated for charter schools.

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I remembered that Will Pinkston as I read through the Race to the Top application that was submitted by the state of Tennessee. Let’s remember that Will Pinkston helped write the application while he worked for Governor Phil Bredesen.

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You can read through the application here. The Race to the Top grant application mentions “charter school” 108 times. The Achievement School District was mentioned a lot in this grant application. Will Pinkston has said that he was in the room when the Achievement School District was created.

According to the grant application, the ASD would pull together an “unprecedented set of non-profits” to open charter schools in the ASD and other schools. The ASD was created, from the beginning, to partner with an unprecedented amount of charter schools.

Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 8.54.57 PMThe application, which Will Pinkston helped write, gushed over how great charter schools are. It also shows how Tennessee wanted to use charter schools to help in the turnaround of failing schools. The application shows Tennessee’s love of charter schools by showing that Governor Bredesen signed an updated charter school law in 2009.

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The application goes on to say that the state is actively recruiting charter school leaders to the state. While the state itself will help recruit, the ASD specifically will help charter schools find facilities in Tennessee.

Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 9.10.48 PMThe current landscape of Tennessee’s charter schools was mapped out years ago in this Race to the Top application. The ASD has partnered with charter schools to help turnaround school districts and state and city leaders have gone out to recruit charter school leaders. We have seen both of those items happen right here in Nashville.

If we move back to the start of the application, we see that the application is pushing for more charter schools. The application reads, “In this application, we describe how the atmosphere in the state encourages fresh ways of thinking, opens the education market to charter schools…”Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 9.54.58 PM

If the Race to the Top application had nothing to do with charters, why was so much of the application about charter schools? The state, and their grant writers, knew what they wanted. They wanted more charter schools in the state of Tennessee. They got their wish.


 

 

Memphis NAACP Says No More ASD

The Memphis branch of the NAACP has called for an end to ASD expansion.

Specifically, the organization’s leaders noted:

The NAACP is also joining others in the community calling for a hold on the state’s Achievement School District. The ASD is tasked with turning around schools in the bottom five percent.

“We respectfully request that there be a statewide moratorium on the addition of schools to the ASD model until sufficient improvement can be demonstrated by the existing schools,” Taylor said.

“We have a proven model with iZone in Shelby County Schools,” said NAACP Education Committee Member Dr. Freda Williams.

ASD Superintendent Malika Anderson responded:

“We are disappointed by the NAACP Memphis Branch’s call to suspend the work of the Achievement School District and the mischaracterization of our turnaround efforts. Our students are showing real and significant gains, and it would be a shame to let politics put the progress of our schools on pause,” ASD Superintendent Malika Anderson said, in a statement.

I wonder if moving schools from the bottom 5% of all schools to the bottom 6% is the type of long-term progress Anderson is touting.

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

Rhetoric vs. Reality: ASD Edition

Over at Bluff City Ed, Ezra Howard is back with some pointed criticism of the way the TN Achievement School District (ASD) is doing business.

Specifically, Howard notes:

I find the rhetoric to be a deflection from real and valid criticism of the ASD and its approach to school turnaround. While collaboration is certainly a virtue in education, a hard look should be taken at the ASD’s approach. All this nice talk about collaboration avoids these courageous conversations. I think people will find that there are some serious flaws in the way in which the ASD and its operators are taking on the arduous task of school turnaround. I agree with Mr. Manning that working together is important, but if the ASD’s has fundamental flaws and does not address them then no amount of collaboration will help.

Howard notes that schools in Shelby County’s iZone significantly outperform ASD schools and that the ASD is now taking credit for iZone’s success. Rather than address it’s own disappointing numbers, the ASD suggests that it “caused” the iZone and therefore, changed education in Memphis.

Howard offers some interesting, data-based comparisons and proposes a way forward. But the bottom line is, the ASD needs to approach education with a dose of reality, not more hyperbolic rhetoric.

More on the ASD:

Quest for Answers

The ASD’s NAC for Problems

So, About the ASD

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

Quest for Answers

After the Achievement School District announced the results of its matching process in Memphis, we published an analysis of the process by Ezra Howard. That analysis called into question the matching process, noting that un-weighted scores resulted in few actual matches.

Using that quantitative analysis, a video provided by Memphis Quest (on twitter @Memphis_Quest), reviews the NAC matching process and highlights discrepancies between the ASD’s stated matching process and the actual events that occurred in matching Memphis schools with charter operators. In several cases, a majority of evaluators did not recommend a match, yet scores were averaged in such a way as to create a match. Additionally, the NAC committees did not include the recommended number of members according to the ASD’s outline of the process.

The video is 22 minutes long, and it raises serious questions about how the matching process was conducted this year.

 

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

 

 

 

Telling the NAC Story

Yesterday, TN Ed Report presented an analysis by Ezra Howard of the Neighborhood Advisory Council’s (NAC) rubrics and the Achievement School District’s (ASD) scoring mechanism. Ultimately, the analysis found the process biased toward matching a neighborhood school with a charter management organization. Separately, several members of the NAC held a press conference calling the process “deceptive” and a “scam.”

In response to the NAC press conference, the ASD sent this press release to several media outlets:

“The ASD invited people with varying backgrounds and points of view to join the NAC and, in so doing, we knew there was the possibility that giving every member a voice in decision-making would mean that some members would not be happy when final decisions were made. This year’s community input process was redesigned with the input of a diverse group of stakeholders, including some recent critics. We agreed with the importance of strengthening parent voices in decisions about schools and that NACs should have an opportunity to evaluate the plans of school operators in areas that reflect the highest priorities for parents and community members. There is no question that the Priority schools that we engaged in this process are deserving of a meaningful intervention to significantly improve students’ opportunities for success. We are grateful to the parents, students, teachers, counselors and community members who spent the better part of two months learning about and evaluating the potential fit of operators that applied to serve these Priority schools.

We did our best to run a fair, transparent process and we believe we achieved that. Based on the scored rubrics and methodology we used to ensure parent voice accounted for 50 percent of the feedback we received from the NACs, we had four matches and one school that did not match. We will honor both the match and non-match outcomes of this community input process.

We ran our redesigned process with fidelity, and we addressed every concern we were made aware of during the process. We have always attempted to be an organization that listens and learns. Our biggest concern as we move forward is the fact that we have some members of the NAC who feel the need to go to the media rather than come to us discuss their concerns. If it’s political posturing to overturn a fair and open process, then there is little we can do to address that. If there are good faith ways we can improve, we are open to that feedback. And we welcome those NAC members who continue to have concerns to meet with our team members in the new year.”

TN Ed Report would like to hear from both members of the NAC and the Achievement Advisory Councils (AAC) from past years. Did you find the process transparent, consistent, and acted on with fidelity? Did you share your concerns honestly with the ASD from the beginning? Did you find he process to be fair and open? Please write to nacstories@gmail.com

TN Ed Report would like to share your opinion in fairly and openly. Whether they are positive or negative, your view of the process will be presented without influence. In addition to your story, please provide your name and a detailed description on the NAC or AAC team on which you served.

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

The ASD’s NAC for Problems

Ezra Howard offers some insight into the ASD matching process in Memphis

Personal Experience

When the Achievement School District (ASD) announced that it would restructure its Achievement Advisory Council (AAC) and rebrand it as Neighborhood Advisory Council (NAC), I was cautiously optimistic. Last fall, I sat on the Northeast Region of the Achievement Advisory Council (NE AAC) and was thoroughly disappointed with my experience. Due to an automatic match between Green Dot and Raleigh-Egypt High School, the NE AAC dealt solely with engaging the community. This ordeal was well covered by the media, specifically the decision for an automatic match, the heated community meeting, and Green Dot’s decision to pull out of the matching process. My frustration didn’t stem from fellow AAC members; they were wonderful and I have nothing but respect for them. It also didn’t come from speaking with community members, teachers, and families at schools considered for takeover; they were frustrated but needed to be heard. Rather, my frustration stemmed from receiving limited support when working with the Achievement School District and the matching charter management organizations (CMOs) as well as the lack of transparency throughout the entire matching process.

My biggest fear for the AAC process was that, as applied to REHS, it was all lip service for the veneer of community engagement. So when I heard that the AAC would make some changes and become the NAC, I was cautiously optimistic. I recognized there were new strengths in the process, like the use of scored rubrics and ensuring parents were on the council. However, there were weaknesses, like limiting the number of members in each NAC despite the size of the school or the number of grades taught. Furthermore, the ASD pledged to honor the NAC’s recommendations. Malika Anderson, the incoming Superintendent of the ASD, echoed these sentiments with a promise to emphasize community engagement. I thought this year would be different.

Continued Concern

I didn’t sign up for the NAC, however, I moved to Lisbon, Portugal with my wife in order for us to both pursue PhDs. Despite the distance, I closely followed the events from afar. I was immediately concerned when I read about the comments made by Latoya Robinson, an NAC member, in the Commercial Appeal.

Latoya Robinson said she served on one of the neighborhood advisory councils that the ASD employed to rate charter operators who applied to take over the struggling schools. Robinson said the way their input was calculated allowed for Kirby Middle to be taken over against the council’s wishes.

“We did not put down information saying that we wanted Kirby to be taken over by Green Dot,” she said.

So I filled out an Open Records Request with the ASD for the individual rubrics and the scoring sheets used by the ASD. The results were not particularly encouraging.

The Matching Process

A little background on this year’s matching process: Green Dot was matched with Hillcrest High School and Kirby Middle school. Green Dot has been active in ASD schools for less than two years. They operated Fairley High School last year (Composite TVAAS of 2) and Wooddale Middle School this year (no TVAAS). Scholar Academies began with Florida-Kansas Elementary this year (no TVAAS). All of the operators considered this year were CMOs. Achievement Schools, the ASD’s direct-run schools, were not considered for matching.

[Note: I was paying attention specifically to the quantitative data. However, I suggest everyone read the individual rubrics and pay close attention to the notes. There are some very interesting facts. Names of the NAC members were redacted, and probably for good reason.]

A Problematic Process: A Low Bar, Grade Inflation, and Erasures

ASD 1

When reviewing the NAC rubrics and scoring sheets, I was immediately surprised to find that the cut score on the rubric was 50%. A passing mark of 50% seems extraordinarily low and, honestly, reminds me of the long abandoned grade scale used by the ASD where 46 was considered passing. Second, I noticed that a couple CMOs were barely passing with scores in the low to mid 50s. Third, I noticed quite a few scores were erased from consideration due to “insufficient evidence bordering on opinion.”

Let’s take each point in turn. It seems very plain that the bar set for CMOs is really low in the matching process. To make matters worse, passing the 50% mark is almost guaranteed using the scoring rubric set by the ASD. The ASD used a four point Likert scale to measure if the CMO was meeting expectations. Each level of measurement was given a score from 1 to 4 (except Demonstration of Community Outreach, which receives a score of 3, 6, 9, 12); the scored are then added up and divided by the total to provide an average percentage. First and foremost, the 1 to 4 scale is problematic because even if a CMO fails to meet the standard of any measure by a NAC member, they still score 25%. These free points set the floor high enough that it tells a CMO that they only have to strive for 25 percentage points in order to pass. In theory, if every NAC member thought the CMO “partially met the standard” then the CMO would be matched with a school. With most scores hovering in the 50s, that’s exactly what happened.

The floor is so high and the ceiling is so low, it makes it very difficult for a CMO to not match with a school. The scoring mechanism for the NAC rubrics is blatantly biased in favor of matches and takeovers. Furthermore, the glaringly low expectations for CMOs in this process stands completely against the rhetoric of high expectations espoused by the ASD, most recently by Chris Barbic himself. It’s hypocritical to the standards held to the schools slated for takeover, which requires a TVAAS 4 or 5 from schools on the priority list. Take Raleigh-Egypt Middle School, which scored a TVAAS of 3 this year with a TVAAS of 5 last year, which is now in the hands of Scholar Academies, which partially met expectations with a score of 54.17%. That’s absurd, but it doesn’t end there.

The sheer amount of redactions is shocking. The most appalling is Green Dot’s rubric for Kirby Middle, where several individual scores were erased and at least two whole rubrics were taken out of consideration. However, if you look at the rubrics yourself, you see that this NAC was very thorough, their reasoning is sound, and they substantiated their arguments with evidence. Take for example this apparently redacted assessment for Green Dot partially meeting the standard for community engagement:

The application demonstrated plans for parent engagement but the operator presentation of how parents are involved in the school was not convincing. When asked about engaging parents at the level required to made (sic) significant cultural changes, the operator was not able to give a strong plan of action.

The NAC member then provides a long list of concerns about community engagement with references to documentation and examples of personal experience. And would it be a surprise that the redacted scores appear to be 1s and 2s rather than 3s and 4s? Consider this assessment of “meeting, with reservations” with a rationale of “Operator understands necessary interventions for the student population. Green Dot has shown academic success at Fairley” with the strengths being “As stated they are the leaders in the school turnaround. They have demonstrated success rates in schools not only in Memphis but other cities.” With Fairley’s composite TVAAS of 2 last year, I disagree.

A Second Look

So there are two major issues with the NAC rubric scores. First, there is the low bar set for CMOs. Second, the redactions on the NAC scores appear inconsistent and biased toward high scores, ensuring that a CMO matches. So I decided to recalculate the rubric scores. I first make “not meeting expectations quantifiably unacceptable by recalculating the scores without the free points while keeping the passing score at the ASD’s 50% mark. Second, I analyzed the final NAC averages using the redacted scores. Finally, combine the former to methods to see where the NAC scores stand. All data came directly from the individual rubrics and scoring sheets provided by the ASD.

ASD 2

In order to the account for the roughly free 25 percentage embedded in the measurement tool of the NAC rubrics, I simply changed the scale from 1 to 4 to 0 to 3. In essence, CMOs are awarded no points for “not meeting expectations.” If CMOs surpass the 50% mark, simply put, this would put the aggregate score must be somewhere between “meeting expectations with reservations” and “partially meets the standard.” Even with the ASD’s redacted score, the results are not promising. Caldwell-Gutherie is the only school matched with 80.79 percent. Kirby has 48.98%, Hillcrest has 34.52%, Raleigh-Egypt Middle has 38.33 percent, 29.39%. It’s apparent that a buffer of about 25 percentage point drastically changes the outcome.

ASD 3

 

When the redacted scores are accounted for, there is a dramatic change in the average rubric score. Only Caldwell-Guthrie with 83.90% and Raleigh-Egypt Middle School with 53.75% would be considered for the matching process. Kirby with 47.22%, Hillcrest with 49.17%, and Sheffield with 45.25% would not be considered matches. Without a doubt, the redactions changed the results.

ASD 4

When you take away the 25 percentage point buffer and use all data available, there are some very interesting findings. First and foremost, only one school passes the low 50% mark: Caldwell-Guthrie at 78.53%. Every other school is below 50%. Kirby is 29.63%, Hillcrest is 32.22%, Raleigh-Egypt is 38.33%, and Sheffield is 27.00%.

It seems apparent that the assessment tool for the NAC rubrics are not only biased, but highly massaged. I believe these three additional forms of analysis illustrates how the NAC truly perceived the CMO and potential matches, and that view is quantifiably poor. It also points to the importance and impact of how a test is scored.

There is another interesting observation that I want to put on the table. In the case of each of the five schools scoring below 50% in my assessment, there are two individuals in each group that score the CMO significantly higher than their peers. Sometimes the scores are two or three times higher than the others and there are two very impressive perfect scores for Caldwell-Guthrie. I may be wrong, but if I were a betting man, I would bet the farm that the two highest scores in each NAC are the two “community members.” The difference these community members make ranges anywhere from 7 to 23 percentage points. If I am correct, then the community members’ assessment of the CMOs may not be representative of the parent members on the NAC.

I went through some of the names of the NAC members and some of the community members also sat on the previous AAC (some of whom I worked with and are those for whom I still have great respect). Several individuals on the NAC appear to be members of the contentious Memphis Lift. Memphis Lift, which is funded by Democrats for Education Reform, headed by Chris Barbic’s wife. Apparently, as one NAC member noted, Lift assisted some CMOs in community organizing activities as well. Despite the community member’s background, the data suggests these outliers, which appear unrepresentative of majority of the NAC members, were highly influential in the outcome of the NAC rubrics.

Conclusion

Whichever way you view it, the NAC results are very problematic. The entire process seems to favor CMO matching from the outset. With low cut scores, a buffer of 25 percentage points, numerous redactions, and influential members that may not represent the consensus, CMO matching seems to be a foregone conclusion from the beginning. Simply looking at the data, the NAC and the matching process calls into question authentic and meaningful community engagement. The rubric data undermines everything the NAC proclaimed to be and refutes the constant message of high standards, accountability, data-centric approaches, student-centered mindsets, transparency, and community engagement espoused both by the current superintendent, Chris Barbic, and the incoming leader, Malika Anderson. At best, it’s disingenuous; at worse, its strategic community disenfranchisement.

Quite frankly, the NAC appears to be the same thing as the AAC, lip service. Now we have the data to prove it.

The Need for Action, The Need for Change

When I sat on the AAC, Margo Roen, then Deputy Chief Portfolio Officer, said she was surprised that I didn’t write a blog post about my AAC experience. I said, half-jokingly, that I didn’t want to be mean, but now I’m angry. Honestly, anyone looking at this data and reading these rubrics should be angry too. The ASD seems to be speaking out of both sides of its mouth. It sets the bar pretty high for priority schools trying to avoid a takeover, but sets the bar laughably low for matching operators. It claims to care about community engagement, but then puts extreme limits on the community voice and agency. It claims urgency for action, but asks for patience when it comes to turnaround.

I wanted to believe in the education reform espoused by the Achievement School District. I want kids to shoot from the bottom 5% to the top 25%. I do not take joy in the fact that academic institutions view the ASD’s effect as “statistically insignificant.” I am not happy that NAC rubrics illustrate low opinions of charters and a scoring mechanism that undermine the matching process. But something quickly needs to change, because Tennessee families continue to be sold a bill of goods by the ASD and out-of-town charters.

I have a simple suggestion for our legislature, because it seems very apparent that it will take a bill to entice honest operation by the ASD. Raumesh Akbari, as most educators know, passed a widely praised bill that took schools with a TVAAS composite of a 4 or 5 off the table for turnaround. There should be a bill that reflects the same for the expansion of the ASD. For any operator wishing to expand in the ASD, an aggregate TVAAS 4 or 5 must be necessary for all schools. Allowances could be made for new operators. However, for those already operating in the ASD, growth must be required. Second, an NAC-type structure is necessary, but must be heavily restructured and regulated outside of the ASD. There’s nothing wrong with the shape of the NAC, but the measurement tool makes very little sense and shows clear bias.

The worst part about it is that the ASD could have taken this exact approach to takeovers this year. A great example is the direct-run Achievement Schools. After some inconsistent results and a few rocky starts, all five of the Achievement Schools scored a composite 4 or a 5 last year. However, no schools were considered for the Achievement Schools in the matching process. Barbic is right to celebrate that fact in his opinion piece on Saturday; but his use of Whitney to prop up the cadre of charters considered for this year’s matching process is inaccurate and misleading. Green Dot’s Fairley High School has a TVAAS of 2 and Scholar Academies has no real track record in Tennessee. By all accounts, that should be unacceptable. Ultimately, it makes me think the expansion of the ASD is less about children and learning and more about adults and business plans.

NAC Rubric – no redacts, unweighted

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

RESOLVED: No More ASD

The Shelby County School Board last night passed a resolution calling for a moratorium on ASD expansion in the district until the ASD can show evidence it is improving student progress.

The statement about the ASD was part of a broader resolution calling for a comprehensive strategic plan for the district.

Here’s the full resolution:

RESOLUTION REQUESTING THE SUPERINTENDENT TO DEVELOP A COMPREHENSIVE SHORT-TERM STRATEGIC PLAN  IN SUPPORT OF DESTINATION 2025
WHEREAS, Shelby County Schools (SCS) is currently faced with an ever-evolving landscape – including, but not limited to fiscal inadequacies, consistently changing state mandated academic standards, and declining enrollment, etc. – impacted by a community facing persistent socio-economic challenges that require the District to realign and shift its focus in order to best serve this dynamic student population; and
WHEREAS, according to 2014 Census data, approximately 33.2 percent of Shelby County’s school aged children live in poverty, with over 80 percent of them attending SCS schools, which in turn directly impacts a student’s academic and behavioral performance, requiring development and implementation of solutions designed to appropriately and adequately address these potential impediments for our students’ educational and life success; and
WHEREAS, SCS faces a number of fiscal challenges from different fronts – OPEB liability, projected budget shortfall and diminishing revenue due to the loss of students to ASD schools and charter schools; and
WHEREAS, To ensure the academic welfare of its’ students, SCS’ focus is on investing in strategies that create a fair and equitable learning environment for all students in Shelby County; and
WHEREAS, although the challenges seem daunting, SCS continues the work of educating students as demonstrated by an increase in the graduation rate to 75 percent; achievement of District TVAAS Level 5 status; and solid results in the iZone (Innovation Zone), where a recent study by Vanderbilt’s Tennessee Consortium on Research, Evaluation and Development found that SCS iZone schools showed moderate to large positive effects in reading, math and science as opposed to the State’s ASD model who’s ability to effectively drive student academic achievement is questionable at this point; and
WHEREAS, the Shelby County Board of Education wishes to continue to propel the current forward momentum to a larger scale effort by developing short-term strategies to achieve the District’s long-term objectives under its Destination 2025 Strategic Plan.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED That the Shelby County Board of Education instructs the Superintendent to develop a Comprehensive Short-Term Strategic Plan to present to the Board that explores and/or considers strategies and/or opportunities to address the District’s challenges – fiscal inadequacies, consistently changing state mandated academic standards, declining enrollment, high poverty among its students, etc. – which include, but are not limited to the following:
– Equitable Distribution of OPEB Liability

– Expansion of the iZone Model –

School Capacity and Utilization –

Grade Configurations/Programmatic Structures –

Collaboration with Charter Operators –

Co-existence with the ASD and a moratorium on the ASD takeover of additional schools until they show consistent progress in improving student academic achievement – (emphasis added)

Strategic Legislation –

Wrap-Around Service Model –

Additional school choice options  –

Equitable Learning Environment
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED That the Shelby County Board of Education requests that the Superintendent present a timeline for the implementation of the proposed Comprehensive Short-Term Strategic Plan.
Submitted by:
Stephanie Love District 3
December 15, 2015

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport