Study: 1 Out Of 7 MNPS Students Has Access To High Quality Education
by Aundrea Cline-Thomas
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A vast majority students in Metro Schools don't have access to a high quality education. That's according to a new report commissioned by the Tennessee Charter School Center.
Time is ticking for thousands of Metro families to enter the lottery process to attend a school outside of their designated zone.
"My older daughter Sydney, she's in the 4th grade and she's very smart," parent LaTissa Hall said. "So I want her to go to one of the magnet schools because I want her to be challenged."
For some like Hall the process is about finding the best fit for her child, others want better quality. Kirsten Hall's daughter is looking for a change of pace for high school, after spending the last three years being home schooled.
"I think the whole public school system lacks in some quality," she said.
When it comes to options, the Tennessee Charter School Center (TCSC) says 14 percent of students are receiving a high quality education, while the report finds 43 percent are receiving a low quality education.
"We have 80,000 students…in our school district and only 12,000 of them are high quality seats," TCSC Chief Operating Officer Justin Testerman said. "And that's just not acceptable."
TCSC used Metro's own data to generate this new report and broke down the statistics by neighborhood.
"You can see that there are a number of areas in the city that have a critical shortage of access to high quality seats," Testerman pointed out while pointing to the Whites Creek cluster on the map.
"In every school there are high performing seats and there are low performing seats," Alan Coverstone with Metro's Office of Innovation said. "I'm talking about every school regardless of public, private or otherwise."
Earlier this year Metro used the same data to establish its own set goals that included increasing quality across the district.
"We think we have real work to do to improve the quality overall and we're committed to it," Coverstone said about how the district is addressing the problem. "We're trying to be as aggressive as possible. We think that charters and traditional schools both play a role in that."
While the Charter School Center wants to remove recent restrictions that limit where new charters locate, they acknowledge that's not the only solution.
"We don't think charter schools are the only answer," Testerman said. "We want to continue to partner with the district to try to create solutions that are going to give access to high quality seats."
Increasing quality comes at a cost during a time when Metro working with limited resources. Part of the concern surrounds the expansion of charter schools.
However, the Charter School Center recommends that Metro continue to fund what's working and take money away failing programs, which include low performing charter schools.