Crucible of Change in Memphis as State Takes on Failing Schools

Learning Teaching: News Digest
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Last fall, Tennessee began removing schools with the lowest student test scores and graduation rates from the oversight of local school boards and pooling them in a special state-run district. Memphis, where the vast majority of public school students are black and from poor families, is ground zero: 80 percent of the bottom-ranked schools in the state are here. Tennessee’s Achievement School District, founded as part of the state’s effort to qualify for the Obama administration’s Race to the Top grant, is one of a small handful of state-run districts intended to rejuvenate chronically struggling schools. The achievement district is a veritable petri dish of practices favored by data-driven reformers across the country and fiercely criticized by teachers’ unions and some parent groups. Most of the schools will be run by charter operators. All will emphasize frequent testing and data analysis. Many are instituting performance pay for teachers and longer school days, and about a fifth of the new district’s recruits come from Teach for America. The article is in The New York Times.

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