Monday, June 4, 2012

Can Schools Fail their Way to Success?

Posted By on Mon, Jun 4, 2012 at 12:36 PM

ASD Supt. Chris Barbic and Gov. Bill Haslam
  • ASD Supt. Chris Barbic and Gov. Bill Haslam
Tennessee's Achievement School District is in the news today. In Nashville, there was a press conference Monday to announce that seven charter school organizations plan to open nine new schools in the ASD in Memphis and Nashville in 2013, the year of the big change.

Is the Achievement School District like the NBA Lottery? Can you fail your way to success?

In the NBA, if a team is mediocre it winds up with a low-to-middling draft pick, but if it is really bad, it is rewarded by making the lottery and has a chance (but not a certainty) for the number-one pick that can turn the team around in a year or two.

In schools, it seems that if a public school is mediocre it stays that way and remains part of the parent system (let's say Memphis City Schools). But if it is deemed a failure year after year by state standards, then it becomes part of the charterized Achievement School District and gets an infusion of special attention and new leadership.

And some of the individual teachers and principals at the failing school can also get new life in what purports to be a "worst to first (top 25 percent)" program.

I've read a bunch of articles and comments on this, but would welcome your thoughts. As I wrote on this blog last week, I have doubts about "miracle schools" being able to replicate their success on a system-wide scale. And the goal of "100 percent go to college" is a notable achievement, but it might be better if some of those graduates went to trade school, work, or the military.

If you have a connection to either a "failing" school or the ASD and don't mind identifying yourself, that could be helpful.

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