KIPP To MNPS: 'We Won't Go Quietly Into The Night'
by Aundrea Cline-Thomas
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Administrators at KIPP Academy said they'll appeal to the state if necessary to bring a new middle school to Nashville. This after the Metro School board rejected the charter school's request to expand.
The committee that scrutinizes the charter school applications recommended that KIPP be approved. The school is already serving 320 middle school students from low performing schools. One year of below average test scores could jeopardize their growth.
"We teach our kids that when you make a mistake that you take ownership of it," School Leader Laura Miguez-Howarth explained. "You fix it and you do better next time."
The lessons taught to students at KIPP Nashville also apply to adults.
"In the 2010-2011 school year we had results that weren't where we needed them to be," Academic Dean Meghan Little explained.
Tuesday, Metro school board members cited those 2010-2011 scores as the reason why KIPP's application to start a new middle school was denied. Board member Mark North said their results were below the district's average.
"We are no excuses and we're going to own those scores," Little added. "But it is a selective few data points that they're pulling out instead of the bigger picture of student growth."
"Coming in, fifth grade I performed under the grade level," recent graduate Antonio Shaw explained. "But leaving and going to become a freshman I performed over grade level."
On average fifth graders start KIPP on a second or third grade level.
"Once I came to KIPP all I heard was college, college, college," recent graduate Silverio Arzate said. "So now I have been looking into colleges since the fifth grade."
Administrators said the growth students are making may not register on one test score. Data from the school shows its students are learning more each year than the average Metro student especially in math, reading and social studies.
So as they did after the 2010-2011 school year, administrators consider what more can be done. They said the changes made this year are working and want more students to have access to the same success.
"We will not lay down," Miguez-Howarth said. "We believe in the community, we believe in the students, our students in East and North Nashville."
Administrators now have to convince the board that the changes made this school year, which include providing teachers more feedback and incorporating more remediation into the school day, is working.
KIPP Academyis no stranger to rejection. Metro's school board initially rejected plans to start the school. After appealing to the state, the first class of fifth graders started in 2005.