Achievement School District Draws Interest From Firms On Improving Tennessee Schools

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The nation’s top school operators are competing for the opportunity to open schools in Tennessee.  In an effort to ensure the lowest performing 5 percent of schools in the state will perform among the top 25 percent within five years, Tennessee’s Achievement School District is working to expand existing, high-performing charter schools as well as attract new operators that will provide transformational educational opportunities for students in the state.  Achievement School District (ASD) received applications from school operators to begin serving Tennessee students as soon as the 2013-2014 academic year. 

Applications were due on April 2, 2012 at 5:01p.m.  To ensure a fair evaluation process, the Achievement School District will work with the National Association of Charter School Authorizers to manage the evaluation process.  Evaluation teams are comprised of national charter school experts, local community evaluators and representatives from the Tennessee Department of Education.  Application evaluations and interviews will take place throughout April and May.  ASD plans to announce approved school operators on June 1st.  The timeline gives school operators a full year to plan for their opening, secure facilities and engage students and families in the process.

The Achievement School District has already authorized three local operators to open new campuses or transform persistently low-performing schools.   LEAD Public Schools (Nashville) will begin converting Brick Church Middle School this fall, building on the success they have had converting Cameron Middle School.  Gestalt Community Schools (Memphis) already manages Tennessee’s top-performing charter school, Power Center Academy, and will begin expansion this fall at Gordon Elementary.  Cornerstone Prep, a Memphis non-profit organization currently running a school in Binghampton (Memphis) will manage the conversion of Lester Elementary.  All of these school operators have proven results with students from low-income neighborhoods. 

“We have the highest expectations of our students and of every school leader, teacher and support staff member who comes in contact with our scholars. Our expectations are especially high for the external operators that will manage ASD schools - whether they have deep roots in Tennessee or have successfully partnered with low-income, urban communities across the country. Our commitment to excellence is constant. We expect nothing but the best for our kids,” said Chief School Portfolio Officer for the Achievement School District, Malika Anderson. 

Among the existing school operators that have applied with the Achievement School District are Aspire Public Schools and the KIPP.  Aspire serves over 12,000 students in California with 100 percent of Aspire’s graduating seniors being accepted into college in the 2010 and 2011 school year.  The national public charter school network, Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) has applied to serve more students in both Memphis and Nashville in addition to those students they are currently serving.  Along with several national applicants, the Achievement School District received multiple applications from new operators looking to provide transformational educational opportunities for students in our local communities. 

“We are thrilled about the applications that we have received from school operators because it means the students and families of Tennessee will have additional choices for outstanding schools in their communities.  We are anxious to start the evaluation process,” said School Portfolio Director Margo Roen.

·         Aspire Public Schools currently serves over 12,000 kindergarten through 12th grade students at 34 schools in California.  In 2010 and 2011, 100 percent of Aspire’s graduating seniors were accepted to a four-year college or university.  Aspire is applying to open schools in Memphis. 
 
·         Exalt Education operates schools in Little Rock.  They have applied to open schools in Memphis and Chattanooga. 
 
·         KIPP Memphis Collegiate Schools currently runs KIPP Memphis Collegiate High and Middle Schools.  They have applied to open more schools in Memphis.  KIPP Memphis Collegiate Middle School was ranked the 3rd highest-performing public middle school in the state for academic growth from 2008-2010. 
 
·         Gestalt Community Schools currently operates Tennessee’s top performing charter school, Power Center Academy in Memphis.  They are applying to open more schools in Memphis.  In 2010, Gestalt Scholars completed more than 2,000 hours of community service. 
 
·         Rocketship Education is a network of schools in San Jose, California.  They serve students from kindergarten through fifth grade and applied to open schools in Memphis and Nashville. 
 
·         KIPP Nashville students average 1.5 to 2.0 years of academic growth in reading and math.  KIPP Nashville is applying to open more schools in Nashville.  
 
·         Matchbook Learning is a non-profit organization that increases student achievement through blended learning, or a combination of traditional classroom learning and online learning or learning through technology.  Matchbook Learning has experience working in Detroit schools and is applying for schools in Memphis and Nashville.
 
·         AdvancedPath is a non-profit organization that focuses on providing transformational educational opportunities for students most likely to drop out of school.  They are headquartered in Williamsburg, Virginia.  AdavancePath has applied to operate schools in Memphis.   
 
·         Four new operators have applied to open schools
o   Capstone Education Group is a new operator applying to serve students in Memphis.
o   DuBois School is a new operator applying to open a school in Memphis.
o   GRAD Academy is a new operator.  GRAD applied during the first round deadline.  GRAD is applying to operate schools in Chattanooga.
o   TARGET Academy is a new operator and applied during the first round deadline.  They are applying to open schools in Memphis. 
 
About the Achievement School District
The Achievement School District (ASD) will create a system of schools in Tennessee that perform among the top 25 percent in the state.  Created out of First to the Top Legislation, ASD will focuses on turning around the bottom 5 percent of schools in Tennessee.  ASD serves as the school operator of the Achievement Schools as well as a school authorizer that attracts and holds accountable operators serving students attending or zoned to bottom 5 percent schools.  www.achievementschooldistrict.org.  The ASD is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tnasd and Twitter @tn_asd.


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