Turnaround

The Tennessee Public Charter School Commission on Friday unanimously voted to authorize Lester Prep, Libertas School, and Cornerstone Prep Denver to operate in the commission’s state-run charter district.
The schools rejoining Shelby County Schools generally have continued to languish academically under state control.
The hire is considered key to jump-starting Tennessee’s school improvement work
The turnaround chief will supervise state interventions within the ASD and other “priority” schools performing in the state’s bottom 5%.
Tennessee is tackling how to return struggling schools it seized 9 years ago, a complicated transition involving people, property, finances, and governance.
Three schools that escaped the state’s list of lowest performing schools all borrowed strategies from Shelby County Schools’ Innovation Zone, better known as the iZone.
At an event that felt like a school pride rally, Aspire Public Schools announced that the state department of education approved turning over its four schools to a new Memphis charter operator, Journey Community Schools.
A new state plan to help Tennessee’s struggling schools would either give them more autonomy to make improvements or face more state intervention.
Tennessee wants to return 30 state-run charter schools to local districts in Memphis and Nashville no later than the fall of 2022, but also wants to retain its state-run district to possibly take over other chronically low-performing schools, says a proposal being unveiled this week.
Three Memphis schools in the Achievement School District have joined a growing list of buildings with water sources that contain unsafe lead levels, but the vast majority of schools in the district have yet to be tested.
Over the past six years, half the teachers on average were new to the 30 schools in the Achievement School District, created to turn around the state’s lowest-performing schools. But the district – with three-quarters of its students coming from poverty – has struggled to make academic gains.
Some charter leaders in the Achievement School District fear further state cuts could seriously affect special education programs in the state’s district of students with some of the highest needs.
Any big changes would most affect the 11 charter school organizations that make up the Achievement School District, and the 9,700 students at those schools.
Tuesday’s gathering was the first of the State Department of Education’s six-stop listening tour. Memphis is home to 28 of the 30 schools that make up the Achievement School District and would be most impacted by any changes the state decides to make following the tour.
Ahead of what education officials say is a pivotal moment for state turnaround efforts, Chalkbeat asked Tennesseans to share ideas about the Achievement School District’s future. All but one respondent said the district should no longer exist in its current form.
Chalkbeat Tennessee wants to know – what are your thoughts on the future of the Achievement School District, which is now in its eighth school year?
For the first time, three schools in Tennessee’s turnaround district have shown enough improvement to be eligible to leave. But because no schools have ever exited the eight-year-old district, no one is exactly sure how that should happen — not even state officials or lawmakers.
As the future of Tennessee’s state-run turnaround district hangs in question, the State Department of Education is planning six meetings to get feedback on its work with struggling schools from parents, teachers, and their communities.
In math, Cornerstone Prep Denver’s student achievement is the highest of all 30 schools in the Achievement School District, the district of charter schools tasked with turning around Tennessee’s lowest-performing schools.
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