[Walton Foundation's Marc] Sternberg’s email promotes Tennessee’s Achievement School District (ASD) by focusing on a Memphis school that has been in ASD for only one year, MLK Prep (formerly Frayser High School).
What caught my attention immediately is that this Walton charter school promotional showcases a school that is relatively new to ASD, which the Walton sell defines as “a special district created in Tennessee to dramatically improve the bottom 5% of the state’s schools.”
So, if ASD dramatically improves schools, why feature a school that has been in ASD for only a single year? Why not feature schools that have been in ASD for years and have therefore (surely) shown evidence of *dramatic improvement*?
ASD has no schools that have *dramatically improved.*
Still, the Waltons want to sell ASD as a solution for those “bottom 5 percent” of Tennessee schools. They email subscribers with a feel-good story of a man who graduated from the “bottom 5 percent” school and who became a success anyway when the school was not in the bottom 5 percent– and without any detailed consideration of the factors that might have contributed to the school’s now having “fallen” into the bottom 5 percent based on test scores.
Converting the school to a charter led by an alum of the school surely will allow Frasyer High MLK Charter to climb on the backs of some other, less fortunate Tennessee schools and exit that bottom 5 percent.
In July 2015, New York math teacher and blogger, Gary Rubinstein, wrote a series about ASD. In his examination of the six ASD schools that have been in ASD since its 2012-13 launch, Rubinstein demonstrates that the best “result” was that two of the six schools broke through the “bottom five percent” and are now in the bottom six percent: