2nd– and 3rd-year ASD schools average highest possible growth rating


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Students in the recently launched Achievement School District (ASD)—a statewide school district created to move Tennessee’s bottom 5% schools to the top 25%—showed faster learning gains than their peers across the state in math and science.  As a group, ASD schools in their second and third years—the first two “cohorts” of schools to join the ASD—earned the state’s highest possible growth rating, averaging a Level 5 on the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS).

“Our kids are really making progress,” said Chris Barbic, ASD superintendent. “We’re seeing that the longer schools are with us, the faster student achievement grows.”

ASD Students Outperformed Peers Across the State

In the 2014-15 school year, ASD elementary and middle school students made big gains in math and science. This growth follows an established pattern of improved academic performance in the district. Over a three-year period, ASD students have earned double-digit gains in math and science proficiency and have grown faster than their state peers.



Reading scores again proved challenging, declining both statewide and in the ASD. “We know from national research and our own experience that reading growth tends to lag behind other subjects in a school turnaround setting,” said Malika Anderson, ASD Deputy Superintendent. “Our public school operators know this is a challenge and will continue to make reading a major focus this year.”

Students in the ASD’s neighborhood high schools—where operators are doing full school turnarounds serving all grades in their first year—made proficiency gains in every subject, including double-digit gains in Algebra and English. Students in these schools outpaced their state peers in five out of six end-of-course exam subjects.



The Longer in the ASD, the Higher the Learning Growth

This year, ASD schools in their second and third years—the first two cohorts of ASD schools—both earned an average Level 5 TVAAS rating, the highest possible growth rating in Tennessee.  While proficiency gains compare achievement in the same grade to the previous year, TVAAS measures growth for the same group of students from the prior year.  Level 5 means students grew at the fastest rate possible.

Unlike other districts in the state, each year the ASD takes on a significant number of Priority schools. “While two-thirds of ASD schools are only in their first or second years, schools that have been with the ASD longer are doing much better,” said Anderson. “Big differences between TVAAS averages—Level 1 for first-year schools in the ASD compared to Level 5 for the second- and third-year groups of schools—show that results start to take off once strong and positive school cultures and climates are established.”

Breakout Year for Achievement Schools in Frayser

The ASD’s direct run Achievement Schools had a breakout year. All five schools, located in Memphis’ Frayser community, earned a level 4 or 5 composite TVAAS rating and most saw double digit gains in math and science.



Achievement Schools averaged 20 point gains in math.  “The state’s data means that, for families living in Frayser, the Achievement Schools are providing great educational options to this community,” said Achievement Schools Executive Director Tim Ware. “You don’t have to leave Frayser to find a good school.  We are excited about taking the lessons learned from our work in math and science and seeing how that can inform what we do with our literacy efforts.”

Looking Ahead

Overall, students in the ASD are doing better the longer they are in the district. “We’ve got plenty of work ahead, but we’re proud of what students in our schools are achieving,” said Barbic. “As we move forward, we will continue to monitor progress, hold our school operators accountable for results, and expand what works.” In August, 29 ASD schools across Memphis and Nashville will start the year, serving over 10,000 students zoned to Priority schools.

Priority schools that did not show significant growth in student learning this year may go through the ASD’s new Community Input process in the fall to determine whether they will join the statewide district next school year. “We look forward to sharing information about the many avenues for parents and community members to provide meaningful input into our school conversion decisions this winter,” said Anderson.

About the ASD

The ASD has catalyzed change and improvement in Tennessee’s Priority schools.  Since the inception of the ASD four years ago, student proficiency in Tennessee’s Priority schools has grown much faster than in non-Priority schools. Additionally, the vast majority of Priority schools are now part of a significant ASD- or district-led intervention.

The ASD is both an operator of schools—running five schools in Memphis’s Frayser neighborhood in 2014-15—and an authorizer of high quality public charter schools. ASD schools are public, neighborhood schools serving students zoned to Priority schools. This year, there will be 29 schools in the ASD, with 27 in Memphis and two in Nashville.


ASD 3rd Year Results Presentation (Download, 790 KB)