Nashville Charters Work
Nashville's charters produce jaw-dropping gains for scholars from all backgrounds. 

Nashville's charters produce jaw-dropping gains for scholars from all backgrounds. 

In December, the Nashville Chamber of Commerce released its Report Card for Nashville's Public Schools. The report includes an insightful analysis of the state of public education in Nashville and recommendations for improving our schools. 

Tucked into the back of the report is a breakdown of the Metro Nashville Public Schools performance framework. Starting on page 50, readers get an overview of the performance of Nashville's public schools. 

Charter schools make up the majority of high performers in almost every category of underserved student. Despite representing only 12% of all public schools in Nashville, charter schools were:

  • 9 of the 13 schools that were "high performing and high percentage economically disadvantaged.” 
  • 8 of the 8 schools that were “high performing and high percentage Black, Hispanic, or Native American.” 
  • 3 of the 6 schools that were "high performing and high percentage English Language Learners."
  • 4 of the 10 schools that were “high performing and high percentage students with disabilities.” 

RePublic's two middle schools in operation last year -- Liberty Collegiate Academy and Nashville Prep -- performed at the top in almost every category. These include:

  • “Excelling in both years 1 and 3.” [Liberty Collegiate Academy and Nashville Prep]
  • “High performing and high percentage economically disadvantaged.” [Nashville Prep]
  • “High performing and high percentage Black, Hispanic, or Native American.” [Liberty Collegiate Academy and Nashville Prep]
  • “High performing and high percentage students with disabilities.”  [Nashville Prep]

We also learned earlier in the year that RePublic's scholars performed in the top 5% of public schools in Tennessee for performance and growth.  

This MNPS framework topped off a growing body of evidence from 2014 countering often-circulated misinformation. The most glaring example came when some anti-charter politicians called for a Vanderbilt study of charter student attrition and then attempted to discredit the researchers who conducted the study when the results debunked long-espoused anti-charter claims.

Another salient example came when a University of Arkansas study analyzed charter and district expenditures and concluded that charters in Davidson County received $1,971 less per student in revenue than traditional public schools (a 14.9% gap). Given the disparity in public funding, it would seem acceptable for charters to raise more philanthropy than traditional public schools. However, this same study concluded that charters receive fewer private dollars than their traditional district counterparts. Nationally, the average district school received $571 per student from non-public sources, compared to $552 for a student in a public charter school.

In 2015, as we debate the future of school choice in Nashville, my hope is that facts like these -- representative of thousands of kids, families, and educators beating the odds -- will drive the conversation.