A $1 Billion Failure

Fox 17 in Nashville reports that the state’s Achievement School District (ASD) has been a $1 billion failed experiment.

Four Tennessee schools are now returning to local control after getting taken over by the state ten years ago. The Memphis-area schools were brought into the Achievement School District with the promise from state leaders to turn things around.

The latest data from the Department of Education shows each of the four schools report less than five percent of students performing at grade level. ASD as a whole reports just 4.5 percent of students performing at grade level.

That’s lower than Shelby County schools, with 11 percent of students testing at grade level.

Just to be clear: The state started the ASD with the idea of taking schools on the priority list – schools from the bottom 5 percent in the state in terms of student achievement – and moving them into the top 25%. Most of the schools came from Shelby County. However, after a decade, the ASD schools are still NOT out of the bottom 5 percent – and are performing at a lower rate than schools in their home district.

In 2020, New York City math teacher and popular blogger Gary Rubinstein, who tracked the ASD from its inception, reported the ASD’s “initial promise” to take over the bottom 5 percent of schools and “catapult them into the top 25 percent in five years” had “completely failed . . . . Chris Barbic resigned, Kevin Huffman resigned, Barbic’s replacement resigned.  Of the thirty schools, they nearly all stayed in the bottom 5 percent except a few that catapulted into the bottom 10 percent.”

When Barbic resigned after just a few years on the job, Chalkbeat reported, he “offered a dim prognosis” on the fate of the ASD. “As a charter school founder, I did my fair share of chest pounding over great results,” he wrote. “I’ve learned that getting these same results in a zoned neighborhood school environment is much harder.”

Despite the repeated failings of the ASD, Gov. Bill Lee pumped another $25 million into the district this fiscal year, Fox 17 reports.

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