“There’s a lot to celebrate, but we know there’s work to be done,” said Superintendent Meria Carstarphen in an interview today. “The good news is that we are moving in the right direction.”
APS high school students posted gains compared to last year in the percentage of students scoring proficient and above on all eight end-of-course tests. Those tests include Algebra I, where the proficiency percentage increased by 8.6 percentage points.
In 2016, the district began focusing on turning around 17 of its lowest-performing schools in the district’s poorest neighborhoods. The plan included pushing more resources and support into those schools and hiring outside groups to take over daily operations of four of them.
Since launching that effort several years ago, all 17 schools have increased the percentage of students scoring proficient and above, according to APS. Three of the schools -- Hollis Innovation Academy, Towns Elementary School and Tuskegee Airmen Global Academy -- have seen their proficient and above scores for all subjects and all grades go up by more than 10 percentage points since 2016.
Three of the 17 schools -- Barack and Michelle Obama Academy, Boyd Elementary School and Woodson Park Elementary -- saw the percentage of proficient and above students drop this year compared to 2018 though the schools are up compared to when the turnaround plan first started.
The district still has a lot of work to do to turn around schools.
At Fain Elementary School, for example, only 3% of third-grade students scored proficient and above on the 2019 English language arts test.
Fain is merging with Towns to create the new Harper-Archer Elementary School, which will open this fall. The Towns principal will lead the new school.
Carstarphen noted Towns has been among the most successful of the turnaround schools when it comes to increasing the percentage of students who score proficient and above on Milestone tests. The idea is to combine a good leader, a good strategy and resources to increase student achievement, she said.