Parents and community members listen to a panel of Achievement School District and Shelby County Schools leaders during a joint meeting hosted by the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) and Stand For Children.

Parents and community members listen to a panel of Achievement School District and Shelby County Schools leaders during a joint meeting hosted by the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) and Stand For Children.

This fall, the Achievement School District begins anew its process of engaging families, communities, and public charter school operators to create new and meaningful partnerships that will transform outcomes for the students who need it most.  How did we learn from last year’s process?  What’s different and better this year? Parents, read on to find answers to these questions—and to learn how you can get involved right now!

Listening, Learning and Getting Better

We place a high value on learning and improvement—not just for our students, but for ourselves.  Following last year’s school matching process, we worked extensively with parents and community stakeholders to rethink and redesign how we engage parents, get feedback, and connect communities with public school operators.  Based on what we heard, we’ve changed the process to elevate the voice of neighborhood parents and provide clearer opportunities for communities to get involved in school transformation.

Shifting from “School Matching” to “Community Input”

An essential part of school conversion is the “Community Input” process, formerly known as “School Matching,” which will now extend from August through November this year. It involves five major phases.

  1. Early engagement. First, the process begins in August with an intense focus on informing parents about the current performance of their child’s school, what it means to have a school on the state’s Priority list, and ways parents can get involved, including joining the Neighborhood Advisory Council (NAC). Parents can expect to see mailers, open community meetings, and more intimate “Dinners & Dialogues” where this information will be shared by the ASD and advocacy partners.
  2. Operator engagement. Second, ASD-authorized public school operators will engage the school communities they are interested in serving through ongoing conversations with parents and stakeholders during September and October. Their focus will be learning more about the needs of local students and how they can tailor their model to best serve individual school communities.
  3. Neighborhood Advisory Councils. Next, several Neighborhood Advisory Councils (NACs) will be formed to represent neighborhoods and Priority school communities participating in the process. NACs will replace and build on the excellent work of the citywide Achievement Advisory Council (AAC) of previous years, and the majority of NAC members will be parents with students zoned to or attending Priority schools in the neighborhood.
  4. Application for School Transformation. The ASD will then ask each school operator interested in serving a Priority school in the 2016-17 school year to submit an Application for School Transformation (AST) to the NAC. The AST is a school-specific action plan for how an operator will address the needs of that school community, based on their engagement and what they have learned in the community during September and October.  This application includes 8 specific categories that address the priority questions of parents and stakeholders, including academic programs and support, extracurricular activities, school personnel, and plans for parent and community engagement.
  5. NAC Assessment. Finally, the NACs will carefully review each AST and interview the interested operators to assess the strength of operator plans in meeting the needs and interests of their school community. These Neighborhood Advisory Council assessments will be used by the ASD to make final decisions regarding school and operator matches in December.


Here is a snapshot of the Community Input Process:


Parents: Let’s Get Started Now

We are excited about the changes to the process, and we want and need your help!  If you are interested in getting involved, please complete an NAC interest form today to receive more information about your local NAC and the application process, which will formally launch the week of August 3.

Stay tuned to and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more information and updates about the Community Input and school conversion process.

We look forward to working with you!