Press Releases

State Authorizing New Charter Schools in Memphis, Nashville

Press release from the State of Tennessee; June 4, 2012:

Nashville, TN (June 4, 2012) – Today the Achievement School District (ASD)—created to move the bottom 5 percent of schools in Tennessee straight to the top 25 percent in five years—authorized seven proven charter management organizations to open new schools that will begin serving students in the 2013-2014 school year, with one, Rocketship Education, planning to open the following year. The charter groups approved will open nine new campuses in Memphis and Nashville in 2013 – 2014, and have plans to open a total of 41 schools by the 2019-2020 school year.

“We’re incredibly excited that these local and national charter leaders have stepped up to join the Achievement School District and serve our communities,” said Chris Barbic, ASD superintendent. “Tennessee is becoming the epicenter of educational transformation. Today represents a big step forward in expanding the educational opportunities for our students and families.”

KIPP Nashville and LEAD Public Schools and Rocketship Education will serve students in Nashville. Charter schools selected for Memphis include Aspire Public Schools, Capstone Education Group, Gestalt Community Schools, KIPP Memphis, and Rocketship Education.

A total of 10 charter groups applied to serve students in the ASD. Applicants went through a rigorous third party screening process, including interviews with a committee of experts and community members.

“We have some of the best schools in the country competing to serve our students in Tennessee,” said Malika Anderson, Chief Portfolio Officer for the ASD. “Our students are getting what they deserve—the absolute best.”

When fully grown out, the nine schools authorized to open in the 2013-2014 school year will serve nearly 3,000 students in Nashville and Memphis. When all 41 schools are open, this group of high-performing charter operators will serve 15,000 students zoned to schools currently in the bottom 5 percent.


Schools Authorized to Operate in Nashville

KIPP Nashville: KIPP is a national network of free, open-enrollment, college-preparatory public schools with a track record of preparing students in underserved communities for success in college and in life. There are currently 109 KIPP schools in 20 states and the District of Columbia serving more than 33,000 students KIPP Nashville prioritizes reading achievement by supplementing our standard curriculum with 3-5 additional hours of guided reading each week for every student in addition to grade-level reading and writing classes. The impact of the value we place on reading is evident — in 2011, KIPP Nashville students ranked number 1 for reading growth among their peers throughout Tennessee. For more information about KIPP Nashville, please contact Exec. Dir. Randy Dowell:

LEAD Public Schools, Tennessee’s first charter management organization, first opened its doors as LEAD Academy five years ago as a fifth and sixth grade program. LEAD Public Schools now operates four campuses: LEAD Academy Middle School, LEAD Academy High School, the state’s first conversion Cameron College Prep, and Brick Church College Prep. LEAD Public Schools’ diverse board and staff serve an equally diverse student body – over 90% of LPS students are of minority race/ethnicity, over 95% participate in the federal free or reduced lunch program, and nearly 14% receive special education services. In 2011, LEAD Academy made academic gains in all subjects that were among the top 5 percent for all schools in Tennessee, and was honored as a “Reward School” by the state. LEAD Public Schools works to transform the educational expectations of the Nashville community by promising to do “Whatever It Takes” to graduate 100% of its students prepared for acceptance to a four-year college or university. For more information about LEAD Public Schools, please contact Shaka Mitchell:

Rocketship Education is a leading non-profit public school system for low-income elementary students. Rocketship Education has pioneered the transformative Rocketship Education Model, which combines teacher development, parent empowerment and individualized learning to improve student achievement. Rocketship Education’s goal is to eliminate the achievement gap between low- and high-income communities across the country, allowing Rocketeers to succeed alongside their more affluent peers. Rocketship Education currently serves over 2,400 students in five charter schools in San Jose. For more information about Rocketship Education, please contact Sarah Johnson:


Schools Authorized to Operate in Memphis

Aspire Public Schools is a nonprofit organization that currently operates 34 high-performing, open-enrollment public charter schools serving 12,000 students in underserved communities across California. Aspire is one of the highest-performing public school systems in California, delivering a rigorous “College for Certain” education to students in grades K-12. An unrelenting focus on college preparedness led to 100 percent of graduating Aspire seniors being accepted to four year colleges or universities in 2010 and 2011. Aspire offers a high-quality education in six cities throughout California: Los Angeles, Oakland, Stockton, Sacramento, Modesto and East Palo Alto. For more information about Aspire, please contact Christine Schneider:

Capstone Education Group (Cornerstone Prep): Cornerstone Prep provides a quality, college preparatory education to families throughout Memphis. Cornerstone Prep’s approach to education is based on successful strategies modeled by the nation’s best urban schools, including intense focus on the core subjects of math and reading; extra learning time created by an extended academic day and year; standards-based lesson plans, curriculum, and assessments; intentional character and leadership development; and a fast-paced, challenging learning environment. Cornerstone Prep’s mission is to equip all students with the Wisdom and Knowledge necessary to succeed in college and to become leaders in their community. For more information on Capstone, contact Executive Director, Drew Sippel at

Gestalt Community Schools (GCS) is a system of K-12 college-preparatory charter schools in targeted Tennessee communities. GCS schools provide strong academic outcomes for their scholars through various initiatives, including meaningful community involvement. GCS catalyzes community leadership to help revitalize the neighborhoods in which its schools operate. Instead of debating whether education impacts the community or vice versa, GCS believes that the most effective method to support student achievement is an integration of education and community (a true “gestalt”). GCS currently operates Power Center Academy middle, the highest-performing middle school in the state. For more information about Gestalt Community Schools, contact Exec. Dir. Derwin Sisnett:

KIPP Memphis Collegiate Schools: KIPP, the Knowledge Is Power Program, is a national network of free, open-enrollment, college-preparatory public schools with a track record of preparing students in underserved communities for success in college and in life. There are currently 109 KIPP schools in 20 states and the District of Columbia serving more than 33,000 students. KIPP came to Memphis in 2002 with the opening of KIPP Memphis Collegiate Middle, which last year was ranked the highest performing charter middle school in the state for student growth. As of July 2012, KMCS will operate four schools- one elementary, two middle, and one high school- serving 800 students. It is the goal of KMCS to operate ten schools by 2016, with the ultimate capacity to serve over 4,500 students across Memphis. For more information about KIPP Memphis Collegiate Schools, please contact Executive Director, Jamal McCall:

Rocketship Education: (see description above).

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