Raising Student Performance and Combating Poverty

Posted on June 1, 2014

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1346770072_ASD_Logo_SmallBy Rachel Glazer

Research shows that high school students in Tennessee are under-performing in reading and other school related areas. Further, statistics show that education is particularly lacking in low-income areas in the state of Tennessee. Due to such correlations between poverty and decreasing performance rates, Shelby County Schools presented a budget pitch to the County Commission in Memphis this past April. The goal of the pitch was relayed clearly in an article entitled “Shelby County Schools Presents First Budget Draft to Commission,” that can be found in the Commercial Appeal. This article reveals “funding strategies aimed at producing senior high classes where eighty percent of students are ready for college or work is the fastest sustainable plan to lift the region out of poverty.” Shelby County Schools plan to invest nearly half of their budget next year — $598 million — into programs that will reverse the under-performance of schools and their students. This money will be particularly allotted towards areas that will benefit students most, such as math and reading programs, optional schools, and significant technology upgrades. According to the article, “Other school districts that have made this investment have seen ten percent upticks in test scores.”

The Achievement School District (ASD) in Tennessee also works with schools ranked in the bottom five percent in the state. As a result of its work, ASD helps move these schools into the top twenty-fifth percentile in the state in terms of test scores. ASD has eighty five campuses throughout Memphis, Nashville, and Chattanooga. Tennessee received funding from the Federal government to create the ASD after it won a United States Department of Education contest created to promote innovation in kindergarten through twelfth grade education. Hopefully, as time goes on, and programs such as ASD flourish, these significant investments in education will promote overall improvement of student performance throughout the entire state.

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