Is the Achievement School District the Right Solution?

In a week that saw a group of Nashville parents actively resist state takeover of their school by the Achievement School District (ASD), MNPS Director of Schools Jesse Register suggested turning more Nashville schools over to the ASD.

MNPS responded to questions about this on social media by saying that MNPS schools were likely to be taken over anyway, so they might as well work with the state on the ASD takeover.

Interestingly, Ezra Howard has an analysis of ASD schools compared to Memphis iZone schools over at Bluff City Ed.

Howard has written about the ASD before, noting that when compared to the trajectory district schools were on before ASD takeover, the ASD schools are actually doing worse now.

The most recent analysis by Howard shows that by and large, district-led school turnarounds get better results than ASD efforts.

This may because district-led efforts are less disruptive — Howard has also written about education reform buzzword “disruption” and its disastrous effects on students.

In light of more and more data suggesting ASD efforts aren’t living up to their early hype (ASD Superintendent Chris Barbic once suggested that ASD schools need to make 8-10 point gains each year), it will be interesting to see if more parent resistance to ASD school takeovers emerges.

In the meantime, take a look at Howard’s work on ASD results.

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

3 thoughts on “Is the Achievement School District the Right Solution?

  1. The tone and actions of Dr. Register really alarm and perturb me. It is clear that he is willing to let MNPS schools continuously fail to push us towards privatization. And that is sad…because our children are more important than profit. There are research-backed best practices that every MNPS school should implement, but I haven’t seen Register push any of them…until I see Register do the following, I really can’t trust anything he does:

    – Increase teacher pay and benefits in exchange for the time needed to be eligible for tenure (from 1-7 yrs up to 13-15 yrs); possibly create teacher “ranks”/levels
    – Require all teachers to receive at least MS-level degrees + provide tuition remission/loan repayment
    – Provide a teachers aide to every class where the student:teacher ratio exceeds 12:1.
    – Have more community resource officers in schools (not cops) who can help counsel kids, stop school violence, and help them manage stress and situations in conjunction with guidance counselors.
    – Encourage student-led curriculum that emphasizes thinking, analysis, and competency instead of memorization – (check out the Transformational Change Model of education)
    – Give individual teachers classroom autonomy to design curriculum that will meet common core standards. (Don’t force them to purchase/rely on expensive curriculum provided by education publishers & tech co. unless they want to.)
    – Allow students to move up beyond grade-level work by subject, not necessarily by grade. (E.g. allowing a 2nd grader to do 4th grade math even though they may only read and write at a 2nd grade level)
    – Universal pre-K for all unless parents opt-out
    – Extend the school year and cut down summer break to only 4-6 weeks to maximize instruction time without burning kids out in one day.
    – School days that last only about 6-7 hrs and start no earlier than 8, unless students elect to have morning electives or get breakfast because cognitively it is better for students. (For example, 8 am – 2:30 pm)
    – Make sure all students are offered a healthy breakfast and lunch at school + have at least 60 min of recreational/relax time because it does go hand-in-hand with learning ability
    – Provide more and diverse public-funded electives, extracurriculars, after-school and summer programs to students.
    – Teacher evaluations that take into account students’ individual and collective improvement as well as the community climate of the school population.
    – Steep reduction in standardized testing. There should only be a standardized test to go from elementary to middle school, from middle school to high school, and to graduate high school.

  2. Our children are being turned into data points instead of individuals that have specific needs to achieve. When teachers are truly included in the conversation of how to build a quality educational system we will finally have one. As long as politicians, administrators and CEO’s of corporations control our educational system, our children’s futures are in jeopardy.

    Parents and teachers must speak up and get involved. These are your children, this is your school system and you need to take control.

    Organize your communities and show up at school board meetings and PTO meetings. Write letters and make phone calls up the chain of command, (to include the governor), talk to other parents in your school and listen to your children.

    The points listed by jellyjam are valid places to start. Now we need our elected officials to pay attention to the needs of our communities and children. It’s time they roll up their sleeves, come out of their offices and teach a day or two. Walking in the shoes of a teacher should be on their schedule every year.

  3. Pingback: Tennessee Education Report | ASD vs. Nashville Middle Schools

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