Six years ago, the Tennessee Achievement School District (ASD) was created with the promise that within 5 years they would ‘catapult’ the schools in the bottom 5% to the top 25%. They would do this by either taking over schools or finding charter schools to take over those schools.
Things were not looking good for the ASD four years into the experiment and then they got a reprieve in the 5th year when the state test results were nullified because of technical snafus.
The spring 2017 test scores would settle the question about whether or not the ASD would be a success or a failure. But the test scores were not announced at the usual time, over the summer. Instead they released the high school scores a few weeks ago, which were awful for the ASD with less than 1% meeting the standard in math. A few days after that, the superintendent of the ASD, Malika Anderson, resigned after less than 2 years on the job. She had replaced ASD founder Chris Barbic, who resigned after 4 years.
Well, the 3-8 Tennessee test scores still haven’t been released, but the other day the state released the ‘growth scores’ for the districts. Tennessee is actually the birthplace of the value added growth model and the version of it that they use is called TVAAS.
The Achievement School District probably made a mistake in making their name something that would likely be on the top of an alphabetical list of scores. Looking at the chart from Chalkbeat Tennessee, it can be seen very clearly, that The ASD students, on average, did not ‘grow’ at least according to the magical TVAAS formula that they have so much confidence in.
Looking at the individual school results from the state website, we see that 19 out of 29 schools in the ASD got a 1 on their overall growth for 2017. Among those schools was KIPP Memphis prep
In a few weeks I suppose we will get the actual test results from the schools. I’d expect that with such low growth, it is unlikely that many of the ASD schools catapulted from the bottom 5% to the top 25% in 5 years.
Before Malika Anderson resigned recently, she was the last remaining member from the original ASD leadership team. They have all gone on to different jobs and they will not be held ‘accountable’ in any way for the con they played on the parents who allowed them to take over their schools or give them away to charter schools on the promise that they knew better how to improve those schools.
Update: This post received an interesting comment that pointed out that using the 1 growth score as proof that the ASD is failing is a dangerous thing to do since it gives some credibility to the growth calculation. I usually say this on posts like this, so let me respond to this. I definitely think that the growth scores are garbage, just like value added for teachers, they are practically random numbers. I still like to do posts like this because it forces the reformers into a Sophie’s choice where they have to either admit that the growth scores are meaningless or they have to concede that the ASD is a failure. I like to be able to say “Even by their own metrics, their schools are failures.” There is a risk in this because they can just make up new metrics that make those schools get good scores and then I won’t be able to use that argument anymore. But, yes, I don’t think that the TVAAS scores are a real measure of much. It is ironic though the way that the reformers only wants to look at growth scores when they make charter schools look good and ignore them when they don’t.