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September 19, 2017
Most Tennessee districts are showing academic growth, but districts with the farthest to go improved the least
It’s not just Memphis: Across Tennessee, districts with many struggling schools posted lower-than-expected growth scores on this year’s state exams, the data shows.
September 13, 2017
Memphis’ new iZone chief shares his data-driven plan for fixing struggling schools
Antonio Burt returns to Memphis as assistant superintendent over the program where he started as a turnaround principal.
September 11, 2017
Long before tragic bus crash, Chattanooga’s Woodmore Elementary offered school turnaround lessons for America
Almost a year after the crash killed six of its students, Woodmore is among five long-struggling schools now facing state intervention over academics.
A new way
May 17, 2017
Tennessee considers a new approach for getting local schools to improve: working with them
The State Department of Education is eyeing Chattanooga for Tennessee's first foray into a “partnership zone” approach.
April 4, 2017
Tennessee overhauls approach to low-performing schools under plan sent to Secretary DeVos
The state will delay its next “priority school” list by one year, while creating a new office to oversee low-performing schools and clarifying the role of its ASD.
March 29, 2017
How Memphis is taking lessons from its Innovation Zone to other struggling schools
Shelby County Schools is seeking to magnify the success of its iZone by replicating less expensive components of the school turnaround model.
March 28, 2017
Memphians weigh in on Hopson’s investment plan for struggling schools
Shelby County Schools holds a community meeting about Superintendent Dorsey Hopson's plan to address 19 schools dubbed "critical focus" schools.
March 13, 2017
Hopson wants to invest in Memphis teacher raises, student supports, struggling schools
Superintendent Dorsey Hopson unveils a $945 million spending plan that avoids the layoffs and cuts that have dominated recent budgets for Shelby County Schools.
February 21, 2017
Here’s what Superintendent Hopson told state lawmakers in Nashville about Memphis schools
Dorsey Hopson seeks to break the stigma and stereotypes of schools in Tennessee's largest district.
February 21, 2017
McQueen rips Tennessee’s school turnaround work as ineffectual, overdue
Calling outcomes "a little embarrassing," Education Commissioner Candice McQueen notes that the state has only moved 10 schools off its “priority” list since 2012.
January 26, 2017
Memphis wants to become ‘Teacher Town,’ especially to feed its ‘priority schools.’ Here’s the latest feedback from teachers.
A new survey offers insights into what’s working, what’s not, and where the city’s new teacher hires are coming from.
December 12, 2016
Your guide to district- and school-level TNReady scores
Tennessee soon will release district- and school-level scores from the state’s new, and supposedly harder, standardized test.
It's a start
December 6, 2016
Here’s a first look at how Tennessee schools could change under new federal law
The Tennessee Department of Education kicks off meetings about its plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act.
August 15, 2016
During its year off from school takeovers, Tennessee’s turnaround district eyes Chattanooga
Leaders of the Achievement School District will begin talks with district and community leaders in Hamilton County in the coming months, a spokesman says.
May 2, 2016
iZone chief Sharon Griffin on fixing Memphis’ most challenging schools
A Q&A on school turnaround strategies that work, the challenges of urban education, the importance of coaching and supporting principals and teachers, and more.
April 26, 2016
Six more Memphis schools to close; three others get one-year reprieve
The Board of Education for Shelby County Schools votes to close three more Memphis schools and revoke the charters of three others.
April 19, 2016
Building on Innovation Zone successes, Shelby County Schools to launch separate ‘Empowerment Zone’
Shelby County Schools' prized school turnaround initiative is getting a little sister.
Adjustments in Accountability
March 31, 2016
This year’s TNReady scores can’t put your school on the priority list. Here’s why.
In light of TNReady's bumpy rollout, the State Department of Education has new provisions in place for how student test scores will be used to evaluate low-performing schools.
March 10, 2016
Griffin hiring more top leaders for expanding iZone
As Shelby County Schools prepares to add more schools to its school turnaround initiative, regional Superintendent Sharon Griffin is putting three lieutenants in place.
February 10, 2016
Most private schools in Memphis on the fence about accepting state tuition vouchers
While Memphis would be most impacted if the state allows public funds to be used for private school tuition, many private schools are undecided if they will participate.
February 10, 2016
Latest school voucher proposal would restrict new pilot program to Memphis students
A new amendment to a hotly contested piece of voucher legislation scheduled for a vote Thursday would make Memphis the home of a pilot program to see how it works.
February 9, 2016
Seemingly on track for passage, school vouchers now face less certain path in Tennessee
Efforts to delay Monday's scheduled vote offers a foretaste of the battle ahead on Thursday, when voucher legislation is expected to go before the full House.
January 25, 2016
Chalkbeat explains what school vouchers could mean for Tennessee
Despite being debated for almost a decade in Tennessee, questions remain about the impact of proposed school vouchers. Here's what you need to know.
January 20, 2016
New ASD superintendent asks state lawmakers for patience on school turnarounds
Malika Anderson's first charge as ASD superintendent is to fend off bills to limit — or totally abolish — the district.
January 13, 2016
D.C. Public Schools officials tour Memphis iZone
The mounting success of Shelby County Schools' iZone attracts national attention from other districts exploring school improvement initiatives.
December 21, 2015
ASD school takeover process a ‘scam,’ say parents who worked with state-run district
The Achievement School District’s new engagement process, heralded by state officials as a way to ensure transparency and parental input, comes under attack.
December 11, 2015
Four more Memphis schools will join state school turnaround district
Tennessee's Achievement School District announces that it will take control of four more low-performing Memphis schools, increasing its portfolio to 33 schools statewide.
December 9, 2015
Five Memphis schools learn their fate on Friday — here’s what you should know
Five low-scoring schools will find out their futures, potentially affecting more than 2,700 students and their families, as well as about 180 teachers and staff members.
November 30, 2015
How a Memphis lawmaker quietly passed a law that may have kept your school from state takeover
The state's youngest legislator, Rep. Raumesh Akbari shepherded into law a new policy that has had a major impact on schools in Memphis and Nashville. Here's how.
November 10, 2015
What a teacher survey in Memphis’ ‘priority schools’ reveals about the obstacles facing ‘Teacher Town’
Among the findings: New teachers are moving to "Teacher Town," but most aren't traveling far, and teachers in priority schools increasingly look like their students.
October 30, 2015
Arne Duncan talks turnaround work in the trenches of struggling Memphis schools
The outgoing U.S. education chief makes his fourth trip to Memphis, where schools must overcome poverty and other mitigating factors to provide a culture of learning.
October 29, 2015
When Arne Duncan visits Memphis, he’ll see part of his legacy as U.S. ed chief
The outgoing education secretary will see firsthand one of America's battleground cities in the movement he spearheaded to transform public education.
October 26, 2015
Three charter networks apply to operate five Memphis schools
Three charter networks have applied to expand next year in Memphis as part of the state's takeover and charter conversion of five low-performing schools.
October 12, 2015
Neighborhood councils to consider state-proposed charters for six Memphis schools
Parents and community stakeholders are to be named this week for neighborhood advisory councils created by the state-run Achievement School District.
September 16, 2015
Philanthropic grant for $10 million ensures Memphis iZone expansion
The grant ensures the expansion of one of the embattled district's most successful initiatives at a time when federal funding for school turnaround work is drying up.
September 15, 2015
Hopson proposes big changes to three historic Memphis high schools
Shelby County's school chief wants to merge Hillcrest and Whitehaven, and turn East High School into a Science Technology Engineering and Math magnet school.
September 14, 2015
Community meetings begin this week over Memphis schools proposed for charter conversion
Parents, students and community members are invited to discuss the state of six academically struggling schools of which the state is seeking control.
Achievement School District
September 10, 2015
Six Memphis schools chosen for possible charter conversion by state turnaround district
Targeting to expand its footprint in Memphis for a fourth straight year, the Achievement School District unveils its list of schools for possible charter conversion.
August 19, 2015
Local district goes on offense in Memphis priority school discussion
For the first time ever, Shelby County School leaders meet with a school community to talk about what being on Tennessee's school priority list means.
August 18, 2015
Shelby County Schools seeks to be part of the state intervention conversation
Saying they don't want priority schools in Memphis to feel "abandoned" by the local district to the state, Shelby County leaders plan visits with those school communities.
August 11, 2015
In Memphis and Nashville, here are the schools eligible — and no longer eligible — for state intervention
Based on the state's 2014-15 report card, here's a snapshot of priority schools in the mix as Tennessee's Achievement School District prepares to expand its footprint.
August 3, 2015
Just over half of Shelby County students are registered a week before classes start
Despite the fanfare around the district's new online registration process, student registration lags with just a week before school starts.
ahead of schedule
June 23, 2015
State removes four Renewal schools from its watch lists
In total, 14 low-performing city schools are no longer designated by the state as among its worst-ranked, making it off of its lists of “priority” and “focus” schools.
December 18, 2014
IPS sticking with priority school list despite grade changes
After struggling for three years to earn a passing grade from the state of Indiana — and under threat of possible state takoever —…
September 22, 2014
Classes have started, but some struggling schools still await clear guidance from the city
More than two weeks into the school year, principals of some of the city’s most troubled schools say they still don’t know how exactly the city plans to intervene — and that the delays will make it harder for them to turn around their schools this year.
July 25, 2014
IPS hopes to arm 'priority school' teachers with tools, optimism
While two thirds of the district's schools were rated a D or F last year by the state, 11 IPS schools are on red alert, having been rated an F by the state the past two years and showing little to negative growth in test scores. Teachers and staff from 13 low-performing IPS schools were in attendance Monday for the first Priority Schools Summer Institute.
June 18, 2014
Ferebee wants bonuses for principals who boost struggling schools
Leaders of low-performing Indianapolis Public Schools could be eligible for $10,000 bonuses under a new plan from Superintendent Lewis Ferebee. On Tuesday, Ferebee unveiled a plan to the…
May 1, 2013
Exit strategy for students at closing schools hard to navigate
Edna Wilson and her granddaughter Gianee, a P.S. 64 student, protested the school's poor quality before its closure hearing in February. Wilson is among those who were disappointed with the transfer options the city presented to students in schools that it is is phasing out. (Luke Hammill) An escape route from the city's most struggling schools that Department of Education officials touted as a significant innovation is unlikely to be an option for many eligible families, parents and advocates say. When the city closes low-performing schools, new students aren't allowed to enroll and current students stay on until they graduate. The arrangement has drawn criticism from state officials, families, and advocates who say high-need students see morale and support decline as their schools diminish in size. This spring, just before finalizing plans to close 22 schools, department officials said they felt a “moral imperative” to help students who want to leave closing schools do so. They said they would mail transfer applications, including a list of possible destination schools, to all 16,000 students in the 61 schools that would be in the process of phasing out this fall. “They presented it to families as an alternative to protect their children,” said Emma Hulse, a community organizer with New Settlement who has helped South Bronx families fill out transfer applications. "But when the package actually hit people's mailboxes, we realized it’s not a meaningful alternative," she said.
August 30, 2012
State names 123 city schools to improve or close by 2015
New York State's No Child Left Behind waiver has spawned a new list of struggling schools that education officials could close if they don't post dramatic improvements by 2015. That list includes many schools that were identified as struggling by the state in the past and have undergone deep reform interventions or begun phasing out, but now labels them as "priority schools." In New York City, there are 123 priority schools, nearly double the schools once identified as "persistently low achieving" because their students performed poorly on state tests and posted low graduation rates. The schools are being called priority schools because their statistics are grim, officials said. The state determined which schools would be identified as priority based on four-year graduation rates (under 60 percent) in high schools and a student growth formula from state test scores in elementary and middle schools that places the schools in the bottom 5 percent of schools statewide, per guidelines set by the federal government. The districts will have just three years to improve these data points, according to a release the State Education Department published late this afternoon, and must submit transitional plans for each priority school by October. And for the first time, State Education Commissioner John King will have the authority to require districts to close the schools that fail to make gains. Districts generally have several options for funding reforms in these schools through federal School Improvement Grant and Race to the Top Innovation Funding programs. But New York City has fewer. Because the city and the teachers union have yet to agree on a teacher evaluation plan, state officials said the city is only eligible to receive funding to implement the most stringent of interventions: school closure over a four-year period, through a process known as phase-out, or school "turnaround." But turnaround is for now off the table because the city lost a lawsuit over its plans to use the turnaround model in 24 schools earlier this summer. It is appealing the decision, but is not likely to see a resolution soon.
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