Once again, Chris Barbic is facing outraged parents, community members, and concerned local officials.
It'll be years before those fifth graders at Brick Church Prep are headed off to college. But in the meantime, LEAD has come under scrutiny for its poor performance data. In a letter dated October 27, 2014, MNPS served official notice to LEAD that its middle school is performing significantly below expectations. At the same time, Barbic has made it clear that MNPS will lose another school to LEAD.
Unlike Memphis where schools taken over by the ASD are matched with the best charter school choice, Nashville schools will not have a choice of charter schools. KIPP, Green Dot, and Freedom Prep all pulled out of consideration leaving only LEAD as the default choice for the ASD's newest takeover in Nashville. So, which MNPS middle school will be taken over by the ASD?
Two schools are being considered: Neely's Bend Middle School and Madison Middle School. Edushyster wrote a hilarious blog based on the bachelor. We are still waiting to see which school Barbic will hand the final rose. That lucky school will then be taken over by the ASD and run by LEAD charter schools.
But parents, teachers, students, even some Metro Nashville officials are fighting back against the ASD and are especially critical of Barbic's choice of LEAD for the charter operator:
Madison Middle School boys basketball coach Marketo Days delivered this message to Supt. Barbic:
"I think you jumped the gun a little too early because you have people here at this school who give everything that they have," shouted Days, standing a foot from Barbic. "We love this school, and we want it to stay exactly how it is."
"At Neely's Bend, some parents accused the ASD of trying to select one of the Madison schools because they are on the cusp of making it off the ASD-eligible list: "Would you take the worst car or the best car?" said Krishonda Lanier, a parent of a sixth-grader at the school. "Even if you like a fixer-upper, you're going to take the better of the two cars."
"Gaslighting is a form of mental abuse in which false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memory, perception, and sanity." "I’ve been in a fair amount of schools that are described as failing schools over the last several years. The thing that always baffles me is that they never feel like places of failure." "Last night teachers from the school were introduced at the beginning of the meeting and they were greeted like they were the Rolling Stones taking the stage." "Looking around I see a well kept school. Examples of student work litter the halls. Teachers move about interacting with students and their families. They obviously have formed strong bonds. Trust me, I know failing and this didn’t look like it."
"It's clear from this week's meetings that parents, students, educators, and the community do not want these schools turned into charters. Over and over parents have asked that available resources be directed to these schools before resorting to charterization. [T]ell Dr. Register and MNPS to direct appropriate resources to these schools, and tell Chris Barbic of Achievement School District to respect the Madison community's desire to reject a charter takeover."
Let the Data War commence:
"'The performance of the ASD and the LEAD scores are no better than the district scores,' said Jill Speering, District 3 Metro School Board member. These arguments have also spilled over into politics. Metro Council members Anthony Davis, Karen Bennett and Bill Pridemore wrote a letter to ASD superintendent Chris Barbic this week speaking out against the charter conversion, citing that, 'LEAD charter schools have been placed on the MNPS watch list.' 'Just from the data I've seen and the fact that LEAD is on a Metro Schools watch list is very concerning to us, and we just don't want to see our Madison Middle School taken over and handed over to a charter school that isn't doing well,' Davis said."
"One of those three schools on the right trajectory is Brick Church Pike College Prep in Nashville, which is slowly being converted into a charter school run by LEAD Academy. Barbic says if Brick Church matches this year’s student growth in math and reading, it would leap into the top quartile a year early."
"...in the case of the model, Brick Church Prep, a statistical anomaly [was] created by a growing student population (they are adding a grade each year) [which] creates the perception of growth, but the reality is growth scores [at Brick Church] are no more spectacular than typical MNPS schools. For the year before Brick Church Prep grew by adding students, Madison and Neely’s Bend were on par with its performance." "The bottom line: The ASD performs no better than district schools overall."
"After pouring over data from the ASD and LEAD with our MNPS experts for a couple of days, I have come to the conclusion that ASD representatives have been misleading about the data they have shared with parents." "An analysis conducted by an MNPS data expert shows that the new charter school grade levels at Brick Church (Brick Church College Prep) are actually slightly underperforming the existing traditional grade levels at the school."
"Paul Changas, the director of research for Metro Schools, says the standard error takes a variety of factors into account, but that the smaller the student population at a school, the larger the standard error calculation. 'Random factors such as student focus, distractability, energy level, emotional state, or text complexity can be fairly significant when only a few students are involved,' he said. 'But as the size of the group gets larger, these random factors tend to balance out – for every student having a bad day taking the typing test there is more likely to be a student having a good day.'"
Momma Bears say: Oy Vey! Its all sounding like a common core math problem!
Sure, we can understand that a smaller group could result in a disproportionate amount of poor test takers. But the knife cuts both ways, there could also be a disproportionate amount of good little test takers. And it is downright silly to suggest LEAD students at Brick Church are more likely to affected by lack of focus, energy level, emotional state or text complexity than any other student in Nashville including those MNPS students in the very same building. And if the LEAD students are considered to be at a greater disadvantage when it comes to standardized testing than the students attending large urban schools in Nashville then we need to be asking: just what exactly is the purpose of ASD takeover? To bring down student achievement scores?
It is rather disingenious for Chris Barbic and the ASD to complain about unfair test score comparisons when they use the very same comparisons to takeover public schools.