Metro Nashville Public Schools celebrated a range of state accountability designations based on the 2021-2022 school year at a press conference Monday at Amqui Elementary School.
Amqui and Warner Elementary Arts Magnet School advanced from their state-designated priority status, and are both now considered reward schools. While the former designation indicates that a school is performing among the bottom 5 percent in the state, the latter indicates those with a high state rating and/or high levels of performance. The designations take into account student test scores, absence and graduation rates, English learner proficiency and more.
“It is so very rewarding, because this is what we've worked hard for,” Amqui principal Latoya Cobb tells the Scene.
“We're excited to get to this point where like we said, this is only the beginning, the best is yet to come,” says Warner principal Ricki Gibbs.
Alex Green Elementary, Cumberland Elementary, McMurray Middle and Robert Churchwell Museum Magnet Elementary also exited priority status. MNPS still has 19 priority schools — including one charter school — though Director of Schools Adrienne Battle noted that “for the first time ever, MNPS has fewer priority schools than the last time the list was run.” Priority schools receive targeted support from the district. While previously priority statuses were designated for a three-year period, they will now be issued for one year.
Additionally, 48 MNPS schools have been designated as reward schools — the highest number ever. This includes 14 charter schools.
Battle also shared that MNPS has been designated by the state as an “advancing” district — the second-highest district-level rating through the state’s accountability protocol, which considers similar metrics that lead to reward schools designations, but for entire districts.
School board members and district leaders attended the event, as did District 9 Metro Councilmember Tonya Hancock and Mayor John Cooper. Cooper celebrated the achievements by touting the city’s investments into MNPS, including recent raises for support staff, paid family leave and the fact that MNPS teachers are the highest paid in the state. Despite these improvements and shiny talking points, many teachers and MNPS staff members struggle to make ends meet amid Nashville’s high cost of living.
“These pay increases were overdue and needed, and how could you run a successful school system without that?" said Cooper. "But thanks to the council, we are able to say we are on a path for success."
Today’s news follows the August announcement that MNPS received a level five score from the from the Tennessee Value Added Assessment System, a mechanism that considers student growth. Despite the district’s progress, many MNPS students — along with students across the state — do not meet state academic standards. This is particularly the case with students of color, students with disabilities, those who are economically disadvantaged and those who are English language learners.
MNPS reward schools are listed on the district's website. Priority schools include:
DuPont Tyler Middle*
Glencliff High School*
Ida B. Wells Elementary
Jere Baxter Middle
John Early Middle*
Knowledge Academies High School**
Margaret Allen Middle*
Moses McKissack Middle
Tom Joy Elementary
Whites Creek High