Smalley said that Nashville might see more charter operators partnering with the ASD in coming years. The ASD will approve new operators in June.
Although the ASD has a mixed record in Memphis, its Nashville school has done well. Brick Church College Prep saw the largest test score gains in the ASD this year, with the passing rates at the school increasing by about 20 percentage points in reading and math. About 30 percent of Brick Church’s students are classified as special education students, almost three times the state average.
Reynolds said that he hoped the months between now and the beginning of school in August would allow for collaboration between teachers at the existing schools and LEAD. Teachers from LEAD’s schools will be visiting Madison Middle Prep today to talk to teachers, said Stephen Henry, the president of the local chapter of the Tennessee Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union. He attended a meeting held by the ASD for faculty at Madison.
Christy King, a sixth grade English teacher at Madison, said that, after attending the meeting, she was frustrated that ASD officials were discounting the gains made last year under a new principal. Madison’s passing rates went up 3.4 percentage points in math and less than one point in English.
“We didn’t grow as much as we should, but we’re moving up,” King said. She also said changes principal Michelle Demps began implementing at Madison last year will have a bigger impact on test scores in the spring.
Demps recruited new teachers to the school, and told some teachers they were not a good fit for Madison — something that principals rarely do, King said. She also has given gave teachers more time for professional development, has facilitated lesson planning in teams to increase collaboration and peer-learning, and has brought in new writing and reading programs.
“We feel like last year was really our first year with a true turnaround middle school principal leading the school,” King said. “She knows her stuff, she knows what’s current, she knows how to lead.”