After six years, Tennessee takeover schools show little improvement
- After six years of state control primarily through charter school management, six of Tennessee’s lowest-performing schools continue to struggle and the districts’ founder has admitted that the original goal for improvement was too lofty, Chalkbeat reports.
- Recent test results from the 2017-18 school year indicate that four of the six original schools In the Achievement School District had fewer than 10% of students testing at or above grade level in math or English in comparison with state averages of 33.9% in English and 37.3% in math.
- The state is now trying to improve matters by bringing new leadership to the district with Sharon Griffin, who has a proven track-record of improving low-performing schools in Memphis’ traditional district iZone, which was launched in response to state district takeovers.
The recent history of state takeovers of school districts or schools has proven largely unsuccessful. The attempts have been labeled a failure by some, racially-motivated by others, and harmful to students in other cases. The challenges that low-performing schools face are not easily overcome by a change in operators and taking over schools seems to cause even more resistance to change. States like North Carolina, who are just beginning to use the model, are adopting new approaches and starting operations on a much smaller scale in a bid to build public support.
However, there have been success stories. The Recovery School District in New Orleans has shown improvement and is now set to be released from state control. There have been success stories in other quarters as well. There is also evidence that the takeover movement has improved approaches to professional development overall. It also seems that the mere threat of state takeover serves, in some cases, to spur improvement in schools. While the state takeover is not a panacea for school ills, it does seem here to stay.