Six low-performing Metro schools are eligible for inclusion in the state-led Achievement School District, and an additional 13 Davidson County public schools have some of the largest achievement gaps in the state.
Tennessee Department of Education Officials on Monday released names of the state’s so-called “priority schools”  and “focus schools”  under Tennessee’s new education accountability system, which has replaced federal No Child Left Behind standards. The new labels follow the recent release of TCAP and end-of-year test results.
Those deemed “priority” are the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools across the state, making them eligible for state intervention from the Achievement School District. The ASD, as its known, has contracted a handful of charter organizations to eventually take the reins at some of these schools.
Eighty-three schools statewide fall under the “priority” category, 6 of which are in Nashville. Previously, Metro had nine schools that qualified for the ASD.
Metro’s six ASD-eligible, “priority schools” are: Bailey Middle; Brick Church Middle; Buena Vista Elementary Enhanced Option; Gra-Mar Middle; Napier Elementary Enhanced Option; and Smithson-Craighead Middle schools.
The ASD has already tapped Nashville-based LEAD Public Schools, a charter organization, to oversee Brick Church Middle. LEAD is remaking the school as Brick Church College Prep, and opened its doors to the school’s 5th-graders for the recently started school year. LEAD’s presence will grow at Brick Church one additional grade at a time.
The ASD also authorized LEAD and California-based Rocketship Education and KIPP Academy Nashville , two other charters, to eventually move into other ASD-eligible schools in Nashville. It is still unclear which schools they might target, though the new state “priority” list likely provides some hints.
The inclusion of Smithson-Craighead Middle, the lone ASD-eligible charter school in Nashville, could raise speculation on its future in Nashville, and whether its charter might be revoked.
“We don’t believe that charter schools that are in the bottom 5 percent should remain open,” said Alan Coverstone, executive director of Metro schools’ Office of Innovation.
Coverstone stopped short, however, of saying his office would be recommending the termination of Smithson-Craighead’s charter, pointing out time considerations presented by the recent start of school. “We’ve got to figure out the timing of this and what the options are,” he said.
In a separate list, state education officials Monday released the names of “focus schools,” defined as the 10 percent of schools across Tennessee with the largest achievement gaps.
The state’s accountability system measures achievement gaps of racial and ethnic groups, economically disadvantaged students, English Language Learners, and students with disabilities. The state has identified 167 “focus schools,” 13 that are in Nashville.
The 13 Nashville “focus schools” are: Amqui Elementary; Carter Lawrence Elementary; Dan Mills Elementary; Dodson Elementary; Eakin Elementary; Goodlettsville Elementary; John Early Paideia Middle Magnet; J.T. Moore Middle; KIPP Academy Nashville; Maplewood High; Pearl-Cohn High; Ruby Major Elementary; and West End Middle schools.
KIPP Academy is the only Nashville charter school identified in the “focus” category.
“Schools on the ‘focus’ list are not necessarily there because of low achievement,” state education officials stressed in a news release. “In fact, many showed excellent growth last year.
“Rather, the ‘focus’ designation provides districts the opportunity to look closely at particular subgroups of students who may be underperforming and to provide specific support and intervention.”