State Accepting Charter Applications For Areas With Failing Schools

State of Tennessee Press Release; Aug. 1, 2011:

ASD Launches Charter School Applications and Start-up Funding

NASHVILLE, TN- Tennessee’s Achievement School District (ASD) has announced the release of a request for qualifications (RFQ) from organizations interested in opening charter schools in ASD attendance zones for the 2012-2013 school year. In addition to the RFQ, the ASD will be awarding $6.8 million in start-up funding as part of the U.S. Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation (i3) grant. Both the charter and i3 grant are being released the same day Chris Barbic’s official duty begins in his new role as ASD Superintendent.

“The development and release of this charter application marks an important step in the evolution of the ASD”, said Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman. “Applicants who choose to move forward in this process will be the first generation of ASD charters, and as pioneers, will be provided the opportunity to lead the way and create powerful ‘proof points’ for what is possible for all students in Tennessee.”

The ASD will be working with a national third-party organizations to ensure both the authorizing and i3 grant selection process are both rigorous and transparent. The National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) will lead the charter application and review process. To assist charter operators approved to open schools in 2012-2013, Tennessee’s ASD has partnered with New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO) as part of the i3 grant program. The ASD will also be working with the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) out of Stanford University to evaluate and select the existing charter operators applying for the i3 funding. The i3 funding will be awarded to high-quality charter operators committed to the turnaround of an existing, academically unacceptable public school in Memphis or Nashville. The goal of the funds awarded in Tennessee will be to build the permanent infrastructure and capacity to replace persistently low-performing schools with charter restarts executed by high-performing charter organizations.

“Providing students and families zoned to ASD schools with high quality choices is going to be an important part of our turnaround strategy,” ASD Superintendent Barbic said. “We are going to work hard to identify and scale the best operators currently in Tennessee and convince the high-quality operators outside of the State to come here and join the exciting reform efforts occurring as a result of First to the Top.”

Both new and existing operators will be eligible to apply for the i3 funding. New operators will be eligible for up to $800,000 to be used for the incubation year and the first 6 months of the new school’s operation. Existing high-quality operators approved to expand as an ASD charter will be eligible for up to $1 million depending on how many schools the organization currently operates at the time of approval. Existing operators will be able to use the funding for the school leadership and central office personnel from the incubation year of the new ASD charter through its second year of operation.

The Achievement School District

The Achievement School District(ASD), a division of the State’s Department of Education, is a key component of Tennessee’s strategy to address the persistently poor performance of many of its schools and transform them into high-performing places for children to learn.

New Schools for New Orleans

New Schools for New Orleans is a nonprofit organization dedicated to achieving excellent public schools for every child in New Orleans. Tennessee’s ASD will take the innovative model of charter restarts initiated in New Orleans after Katrina, and apply them in turnaround situations in Nashville and Memphis schools.