VOL. 129 | NO. 147 | Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Achievement School District Touts Proficiency Gains
By Bill Dries
The state-run Achievement School District grew its math proficiency percentages in its second school year by 2.2 percentage points, reading and language arts by 3.4 percentage points and science proficiency percentages by half a percentage point – all compared to the previous 2012-2013 school year.
Achievement School District superintendent Chris Barbic said the TCAP results show the district outpaced the state growth in math and reading and language arts.
(AP Photo/The Tennessean, Jae S. Lee)
The district for the bottom 5 percent of schools in the state by student achievement test scores released scores of its third through eighth graders Wednesday, July 30, on the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program – or TCAP – test scores. All but one of the Achievement School District schools is in Memphis.
The scores for school districts across the state were released this week with school by school scores to come in August.
The scores for the school year that ended this past May show 21.8 percent of the ASD students were proficient or advanced in math, with 17 percent proficient or advanced in reading and language arts while 24.6 percent were proficient or advanced in science.
The percentages reflect the six schools in the district for two school years with the first year of a school’s inclusion considered a “baseline” year in which the school district is not held accountable by the state in terms of the growth they show.
At the outset of the Achievement School District, the six schools combined posted a 16.3 percent proficiency in math, an 18.1 percent proficiency in reading and language arts and 16.5 percent proficiency in science.
Ten more of the Achievement School District schools were in their first or baseline year this past school year.
For those 10 schools, 21.4 percent of their students were proficient or advanced in math with 22.3 percent in reading and language arts and 21.4 in science.
For all 16 schools, the math proficiency percentage is 21.7 percent, reading and language arts at 18.9 percent and science at 22.7 percent.
With the school year that begins in Shelby County Aug. 4, the district will grow to 23 schools. All but one of the ASD schools are in Memphis. The exception is Nashville’s Brick Church College Prep School.
Achievement School District superintendent Chris Barbic said the results show the district outpaced the state growth in math and reading and language arts. Statewide results showed a 0.6 percent increase in the third through eighth graders proficient or advanced in math while statewide results in reading and language arts showed a drop of 0.8 percent in the number of students proficient.
“We’re making progress two years in. If we are going to hit our goal, we need to be making progress faster,” Barbic said.
The district’s goal is for the bottom 5 percent schools it runs, either directly or through charter operators, to be in the top 25 percent of Tennessee public schools by their fifth year. After the fifth year, the Achievement School District returns control of the schools to the local school district or parents could petition to keep some form of charter control or control outside the local school district.
The reading and language arts proficiency percentages a year ago at this point drew concern from not only Barbic but leaders of Shelby County Schools and educators statewide.
The Achievement School District opened with a baseline of 18.1 percent of the third through eighth graders at the schools it took over proficient or advanced in reading and language arts. That dropped to 13.6 percent in the first year of operation. The 17 percent proficiency in the school year that ended in May still isn’t up to the baseline level.
“Our schools have got to get better faster in reading,” Barbic said. “We’re happy that we reversed the trend we saw last year. But I think we’ve got to see our schools getting better faster.”
He also noted that phase-in schools in which the Achievement School District or charter operators the district contracts with begin a school a grade at a time are doing better than schools where the whole school is converted in a single school year.
“Our phase-in schools, their trajectory to get to the goal that we are setting – they are getting there a little faster, a little earlier on,” Barbic said. “Their take off looks a little different than some of our schools that are trying to do all grades at once. It’s just a harder lift.”