June 27, 2012
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NASHVILLE, Tenn.- The Metro School Board first questioned whether KIPP Academy Nashville could improve student performance; now district leaders say they can learn a lot from the charter organization.
"We have this spirit of constantly improving ourselves and taking on challenges," KIPP Nashville Executive Director Randy Dowell said. "We make a promise to our students to prepare them for college."
In a meeting just last month, the School Board voted to deny the school's application to open a new middle school serving the Whites Creek area.
"There's…a little bit from year to year uneven performance," school board member Mark North said. He raised concerns that some of KIPP's test scores in 2010 and 2011 were not on pace with the gains Metro students at traditional schools were making which led to the denial.
After appealing that decision, Tuesday night the school board approved KIPP's plans to expand after receiving new information about students' test scores.
According to Metro School leaders, preliminary TCAP data shows students at KIPP Academy Nashville are improving faster than the average Metro student. KIPP raised its students' science scores by nearly 40 percent. Math scores jumped 33 percent in one school year.
"It's important to see the strength of KIPP again this year in 2012," Executive Director of Metro's Innovation School Zone explained to the school board. "(I) believe these results will satisfy concerns expressed during the last meeting."
Not only are KIPP students outpacing the average growth of Metro students in traditional schools, its single year improvement in math may be the largest gains when compared to schools all across the district.
Board member Mark North was the lone dissenting vote, citing concerns over inconsistencies from year to year.
"Yes we have something to prove, but it really comes down to that promise to kids," Dowell explained. "That's what drives us. That's what gets us out of bed in the morning. That's what keeps us up late at night."
Now, principals in the lowest achieving schools in Metro could be meeting with KIPP leaders to learn how to duplicate that growth in their schools.