By Achievement School District


Thousands of students, parents to benefit from opportunity

MEMPHIS, TN – December 12, 2012 – 6 more Memphis area priority schools are joining Tennessee’s statewide Achievement School District (ASD), leaders announced on Friday morning at a press conference at Frayser Achievement Elementary School in the Frayser neighborhood of North Memphis.

“We’re thrilled to welcome these schools to the ASD,” said ASD superintendent Chris Barbic. “We’ve seen great things happening in our schools this year, and can’t wait to begin working with our new parents, students, teachers and community members to prove the possible.”

The ASD currently has six schools, and—with Friday’s announcement—will double in number next year. The ASD is both an operator and an authorizer of schools. As an operator, it runs schools directly. As an authorizer, it recruits and selects high performing charter schools to join its network. Friday’s announcement had implications for the ASD on both fronts.

“Find me in Frayser”: The ASD as school operator

The ASD has set deep roots in the Frayser area, running three schools this year: Frayser Elementary, Corning Elementary and Westside Middle School. With Friday’s announcement, they will operate two additional campuses in the Frayser area: Georgian Hills and Whitney elementary schools.

DeAndre Brown, Executive Director of Lifeline to Success, has seen a change in Frayser this school year. “The ASD has truly become part of the community, and our kids are learning in ways they never have before.”

Frayser Elementary joined the ASD this fall, beginning its climb to the top 25% of schools in the state. Like other schools that have joined the ASD, Frayser performed in the bottom 5% of schools in the state. This group of schools, known as “Priority” schools, is receiving statewide attention. On average, only 1 out of 10 students in Priority schools read and do math on grade level. And in Frayser, 11 out of the 14 schools are priority schools—the highest concentration of bottom 5% schools in the state.

“In just a semester here at Frayser, we have seen significant academic gains with our students, and we know they can reach further heights this spring,” said James Dennis, Principal of Frayser Elementary.

New charter operators make their match: The ASD as authorizer

The ASD is positioning other top performing school operators to do the same in other parts of the city. Orange Mound will now have a new educational partner in Aspire Public Schools, a newcomer to Memphis. Aspire currently operates some of the best public schools in California. Beginning in the fall, Aspire will be working to transform Hanley Elementary School.

We are excited about working with families and students in the Orange Mound school community,” said Allison Leslie, Executive Director, Aspire Public Schools – Memphis Region. “Aspire Public Schools provides students with a proven rigorous education, helping to prepare students for success in their future endeavors-in higher education, work, and citizenship. We believe that through personalized learning experiences, students will master basic skills, develop productive life skills, and acquire the thinking skills needed for success in the real world. With our College for Certain mission in mind, our goal is to prepare students at Hanley Elementary to earn a college degree.”

Along with Aspire, the ASD announced that Gestalt Community Schools, who currently operates the best public middle school in the state at Power Center Academy, will phase in operations at Klondike Elementary, beginning next year with kindergarten and first grade, and adding a grade each year. Gestalt already operates one ASD School. Gordon Science and Arts Academy serves students zoned to Humes Middle School. Another local top-performing school operator, KIPP Memphis Collegiate Schools will begin transforming Corry Middle and Shannon Elementary next fall. At Shannon, KIPP will operate grades PreK and kindergarten, adding a grade each year; at Corry, KIPP will operate the 5th grade, adding a grade each year.




Whitney Elementary

Achievement School District

Whole school

Georgian Hills Elementary

Achievement School District

Whole school

Hanley Elementary

Aspire Public Schools

Whole school

Klondike Elementary

Gestalt Community Schools

Kindergarten and first grade

Shannon Elementary

KIPP Memphis Collegiate Schools

Pre-K & Kinder

Corry Middle

KIPP Memphis Collegiate Schools

5th grade

Schools were chosen and matched with operators based on a range of factors, including need (school and feeder pattern performance), potential for impact (school and feeder pattern serve a high number of students), and community input. There was an extensive community engagement process led by the volunteer Achievement Advisory Council, the ASD, and the ASD’s charter operators.


Aspire Public Schools is a nonprofit organization that currently operates 34 high-performing, open-enrollment public charter schools serving 12,000 students in underserved communities across California. Aspire is one of the highest- performing public school systems in California, delivering a rigorous “College for Certain” education to students in grades K-12. An unrelenting focus on college preparedness led to 100 percent of graduating Aspire seniors being accepted to four year colleges or universities in 2010 and 2011. Aspire offers a high-quality education in six cities throughout California: Los Angeles, Oakland, Stockton, Sacramento, Modesto and East Palo Alto. For more information about Aspire, please contact Christine Schneider:

Capstone Education Group (Cornerstone Prep): Cornerstone Prep provides a quality, college preparatory education to families throughout Memphis. Cornerstone Prep’s approach to education is based on successful strategies modeled by the nation’s best urban schools, including intense focus on the core subjects of math and reading; extra learning time created by an extended academic day and year; standards-based lesson plans, curriculum, and assessments; intentional character and leadership development; and a fast-paced, challenging learning environment. Cornerstone Prep’s mission is to equip all students with the Wisdom and Knowledge necessary to succeed in college and to become leaders in their community. For more information on Capstone, contact Executive Director, Drew Sippel at

Gestalt Community Schools (GCS) is a system of K-12 college-preparatory charter schools in targeted Tennessee communities. GCS schools provide strong academic outcomes for their scholars through various initiatives, including meaningful community involvement. GCS catalyzes community leadership to help revitalize the neighborhoods in which its schools operate. Instead of debating whether education impacts the community or vice versa, GCS believes that the most effective method to support student achievement is an integration of education and community (a true “gestalt”). GCS currently operates Power Center Academy middle, the highest-performing middle school in the state. For more information about Gestalt Community Schools, contact Exec. Dir. Derwin Sisnett:

KIPP Memphis Collegiate Schools: KIPP, the Knowledge Is Power Program, is a national network of free, open- enrollment, college-preparatory public schools with a track record of preparing students in underserved communities for success in college and in life. There are currently 109 KIPP schools in 20 states and the District of Columbia serving more than 33,000 students. KIPP came to Memphis in 2002 with the opening of KIPP Memphis Collegiate Middle, which last year was ranked the highest performing charter middle school in the state for student growth. As of July 2012, KMCS will operate four schools- one elementary, two middle, and one high school- serving 800 students. It is the goal of KMCS to operate ten schools by 2016, with the ultimate capacity to serve over 4,500 students across Memphis. For more information about KIPP Memphis Collegiate Schools, please contact Executive Director, Jamal