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Achievement School District will not take over South Side Middle

Tennessee’s state-run Achievement School District will not take over South Side Middle, the district announced yesterday. The school had been on the list of schools to be run by the state starting in 2014.

The Achievement School District, which is in its second year of running schools, plans to run several more schools next year. Any school that’s in the bottom five percent of schools in the state is eligible to be taken over by the ASD, which has the goal of improving each school’s performance enough that it is in the state’s top 25 percent of schools.

The ASD directly runs six schools now, while the others are run by charter management organizations and authorized by the ASD. Several charter management organizations are slated to come into the city for the first time to run new schools taken over by the state in coming years. (Shelby County Schools also authorizes charter schools.)

The ASD’s chief of staff, Elliot Smalley, wrote a blog post saying that in the end, the numbers didn’t justify taking over South Side Middle. He said the decision was “data-driven,” and encouraged the school’s community to keep up its good work. The school’s academic performance has been improving in the past two years.

Smalley wrote that no other school will be removed from the state’s list of schools to run next year. “We want to be clear—this decision is based on the success of South Side only,” Smalley wrote. “There might be an itch for other schools on the list to try and get themselves out of joining the ASD in 2014. But here’s where the data driven decision making stays true. No other school on our list had significant reading and math gains, and none of them earned a Level 5 growth rating.”

Here’s a fact sheet from the ASD about why it chose not to take over South Side.

But the Tri-State Defender in Memphis said that the ASD had received a “frosty reception” from community members earlier this fall. When the ASD takes over a school, its name may change and teachers need to reapply for their jobs, among other changes.

The AACs, or Achievement Advisory Committees, have been hosting community meetings about the schools the ASD plans to take over various schools. This piece in the Hechinger Report describes some of the concerns surrounding the ASD.

The Achievement School District, which was funded by Tennessee’s federal Race to the Top grant, currently runs 12 schools in Memphis and one in Nashville. The plan is for it to run as many as 50 schools.

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