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Early Test Scores Low in Tennessee's Achievement District

Guest blog post by Jaclyn Zubrzycki @jzubrzycki

Students in the six schools that make up Tennessee's Achievement School District, or ASD, scored at the 16th percentile in the nation, on average, on the Measured Academic Progress, or MAP, test, reports the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

The ASD, currently in its first school year, was created to oversee the state's lowest-performing schools—or, as its website declares, to "catapult the bottom 5 percent of schools into the top 25 percent in the state." These MAP scores indicate that this may be an uphill battle.

The Commercial Appeal reported that the ASD's superintendent, Chris Barbic—who founded charter network YES Prep—was "stunned" by the low results, though, he said, "We intuitively knew kids were coming in that far behind." But Barbic was optimistic: "We are using data to adjust. That is what good leaders and good teachers do. That's a good best practice you see in lots of schools."

The MAP is not a high-stakes, state-administered standardized test, but is rather a computerized formative assessment, intended to help gauge student progress. The students in the Achievement School District will take the test twice more this year, and teachers said they hope to see dramatic growth, reports the Commercial Appeal.

The ASD is one of a number of state-created districts modeled after the Recovery School District in New Orleans. Tennessee's plan was to add schools slowly but steadily. The district announced this summer that seven charter networks will open nine new schools in the state in the 2013-14 school year as part of the ASD.

Its performance and outcomes will likely be closely watched, especially in Memphis, which is home to five of the six current ASD schools, and where the ASD's growth is one of a number of factors complicating the future of the school district, as my colleague Christina Samuels reported earlier this year.

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