The state-run Achievement School District (ASD) will take over Caldwell-Guthrie Elementary, Hillcrest High, and Kirby and Raleigh-Egypt middle schools in the 2016-17 school year.
Those schools, which all had scores in the bottom five percent statewide, have been matched with charter school operators that will rename the schools, hire new staff and a new principal, and reformat the way the schools are run. The ASD is the state school district charged with turning around the state's lowest-performing schools (called "priority schools").
Charter operator Scholar Academies will take over operation of Caldwell-Guthrie and Raleigh-Egypt Middle, and Green Dot Public Schools will be taking over Hillcrest High and Kirby Middle.
“The input we received from parents, teachers, and community members was critical in making these matches,” said Malika Anderson, incoming ASD superintendent. “And we look forward to working shoulder to shoulder with parents and educators in our new schools to ensure every child meets their full potential.”
The ASD's Neighborhood Advisory Councils (NAC) — made up of parent, students, teachers, and community members — worked with the ASD on the charter matching process.
“We are so grateful to all NAC members for their hard work over the last few months assessing operators and for their commitment to ensuring appropriate matching decisions were made," said Anjelica Hardin, ASD’s Director of Strategic Partnerships. “We believe strongly in the NACs and the process we used this year to include more parent and community voice in our conversion decisions.”
A Vanderbilt University study released earlier this month found that Shelby County Schools' (SCS) iZone program, which attempts to turn-around low-performing schools that ASD doesn't take over, is actually doing better than the ASD. That study found looked at data from the first three years that the ASD and iZone have been in operation and found that iZone schools had made greater gains.
At a press conference on Thursday, State Representative Antonio Parkinson called for the possible abolition
of the ASD. He cited the Vanderbilt study and claimed that "the ASD model has not worked."
There are 77 priority schools in the state. Currently, the ASD runs 23 of those, and 26 are run by SCS' iZone. The majority of the state's priority schools are in Memphis.