A Parent's Guide to the Nashville Prep Report Card

By Team NP

The state released an amazing new revamped school/district report card, available here

Here is a summary of the NP data, with some analysis. 

A.  Demographics:

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This data shows that Nashville Prep continues to mainly serve scholars of color (and mostly from North Nashville), which is what we set out to do in our charter.  We have a growing Latino population, which is a predicable result of outreach to new neighborhoods.  

You can also see (below) that we continue to serve a primarily economically disadvantaged student body (state is 58.6% and the district is 72.4%).   We serve a population of students with disabilities that is in line with the state average (13.7%) and slightly above the local average (12.0%).  The per-pupil expenditure number listed below is the number for the district as a whole (but stay tuned on this blog for a detailed analysis of our expenditure % in the coming weeks).       

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B.  Growth 

Nashville Prep received straight A's for student growth.  As previously reported, Nashville Prep's 5th grade scholars had the highest growth of all public schools in the state in science, social studies and reading.  Click to enlarge the image below.

C.  Gaps Closure 

We don't just ask how our scholars as a whole are performing, but we also ask how different subgroups are performing.  Let's start with math:

  • There is no gap between scholars of color and the general NP population
  • We slightly narrowed the gap between economically disadvantaged scholars and non-economically disadvantaged scholars.  There is still a long way to go.  Our goal is to cut this gap in half this year - from 9.1% to 4.6%.  
  •  We knocked 6 points off of the gap between scholars with disabilities and those without disabilities; however, the gap remains large.  Our goal is to knock 15 percentage points off of this gap this year.  

Now, let's look at reading:

  • There is almost no gap between scholars of color and the general NP population, and we narrowed that extremely small gap.  
  • We more than cut in half the gap between economically disadvantaged scholars and non-economically disadvantaged scholars.
  • The gap for scholars with disabilities increased by 14 points.  Our goal for this year is to cut this gap to 15 points.  

Click to enlarge the image below.

D.  Achievement

A detailed breakdown of Nashville Prep's achievement data is here.  Our 6th grade scholars had the highest performance of any open enrollment public schools in the city in all core subjects and even outperformed Meigs and Head Magnet Schools in science.   Our 6th grade scholars also outperformed neighboring Williamson County (the highest performing/most affluent district in the state) in three of four subjects.  Click to enlarge the image below.   

E.  Attendance, Promotion and Discipline

Some key metrics:

  • Nashville Prep's attendance rate (98%) exceeds the state (95.2%) and district (95.4%) attendance rates.  
  • Our promotion rate (91.3%) is lower than the state (98.4%) and the district (98.2%). 
  • Our suspension rate (13% all, 14.1% African American) is lower than the district (14.1% general, 21.5% African American) and higher than the state (7.5% general) for all students but lower for African American scholars  (18.8% African American). 
  • Our expulsion rate (0%) is lower than the district (.9%) and state (.6%).       

Nashville Prep's Haunted Schoolhouse Halloween Party

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Nashville Prep is excited to host its first annual Halloween Party!  The event will be held during our normal Enrichment period from 2:30 to 4:30 pm on Thursday, October 31st.  The party will feature a trunk or treat, a theatrically produced haunted classroom, and outdoor games and activities.  The event is free and open to the public.

We need volunteers to:

  • Host a trunk or treat vehicle (pass out candy from the trunk of your car in our parking lost).  You must register through Dana below to receive a pass.
  • Facilitate outdoor activities such as pumpkin painting, toilet paper mummy wrap, candy counting, and pie a teacher.
  • Sponsor the moon bounce. 
  • Donate materials and props for the haunted classroom and outdoor activities. 

To find out more about activities and materials we need assistance with or to volunteer, please contact Dana McGarty at 615-921-8440 or dmcgarty@nashvilleprep.org

To make a direct financial contribution to this event, please click here.

 

The Story of Revive McCann

By Dana McGarty 

McCann:  History and Possibility

While the Tennessee State University (TSU) Avon Williams building served as a wonderful incubation space for Nashville Prep, we were thrilled when Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools offered us the opportunity to lease the McCann building in West Nashville for the long term.  We took our first walk-through and quickly became excited about the possibilities. 

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Built in 1936, with additions made in the 1950s and 1970s, the McCann building had a strong foundation but contained many outdated fixtures, construction elements, and technology systems.  We knew the building would need serious work, but we also saw tremendous personality.  With an aging Art Deco exterior entrance, beautiful trees, and large and sturdy classrooms, we had a great canvass upon which we could paint.  This was going to be a hipster renovation.    

Equipped with generous donations from the Tennessee Charter School Center, the Frist Foundation and smaller (but meaningful!) donations from many others, we got straight to work.   We were extremely grateful to come across so many committed citizens in Nashville and have been reminded that our city has one of the most engaged philanthropic communities in the country. 

With strong community and professional recommendations, we sat down with Gobbell Hays Partners, DWC Construction, and Facility Planners to outline exactly what we wanted our new school to look like.  Our goal was to make McCann an inviting and happy space for our scholars – and add a little Nashville style to the mix. 

Revive McCann Takes Off

We linked up with our website designer, Rob Williams, and storyteller guru, Sam Davidson, to create the Revive McCann Campaign: an opportunity for supporters to directly contribute to our new building by buying items on our wish list.   

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Only one day after we launched the site, we had over $25,000-worth of items donated!  After two weeks, we raised over $100,000.  Donated items included everything from books for our library to picnic tables for our playground.  Donors loved this mechanism because they could choose exactly where their funds would go and then visit the school to see their investment in action. 

 

Reviving With No Time To Lose

We received the keys to the McCann building on May 29, and our contractors were right to work.  Next, our electricians re-wired classrooms for new air conditioning units and fans, and carpenters started on the new library!  

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 After clearing up a few asbestos challenges, construction crews were back to work and we were able to move on to the more exciting projects.   The next step of the process entailed choosing floor tile colors, tile patterns, and wall colors.  We wanted a fun and engaging space for the scholars, so we chose four bright rotating wall accent colors and a great hallway pattern that lent itself to easy ‘highways’ for scholars to travel on.

Throughout this process, we also worked with our partners at Computer Pros, who helped us install the IT infrastructure to handle over 200 laptops connecting to the internet at the same time. 

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Thanks to a generous donation from the Cal Turner Family Foundation, we designed an innovative classroom called the Revolution Lab in which each seventh grader gets his or her own laptop to work on blended math programs, participate in a twenty-first century writer’s workshop model, and learn to code.  We will blog about Revolution Lab in the weeks to come.   

 

Hands on Nashville Day:  Morgan Stanley Comes Through

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Earlier this year, we were contacted by Hands On Nashville, a game-changing non-profit which organizes volunteer-driven community projects, to express their interest in partnering with Morgan Stanley to get involved with Nashville Prep.  Morgan Stanley pledged both funding and volunteers to the school, and on the morning of July 11, three charter busses full of one hundred volunteers pulled up to our building.  The volunteers worked through the day and kept going even when it started pouring.  By the end of the day, the volunteers painted the majority of the inside of the school, completed several landscape projects, and left fired up about Nashville Prep.  

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A special thanks to our volunteer landscape architects, Sarah and Rob, for helping to manage the Hands on Nashville outdoor projects and for carrying through the work that began that day.  Because of their work, we now have a butterfly garden, herb garden, new trees, tire planters, picnic tables and benches.  Our next project is to build an amphitheater-style outdoor classroom.  If you are interested in being involved in that project, email info@nashvilleprep.org.

Moving In, Starting the Year

With less than one month until the first day for new students, we had a lot of loose ends to tie.  The movers packed all of our things up on Friday, July 26 and delivered them to us on the following Monday. 

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 We scheduled orientations for returning students that following Friday and Saturday, so the pressure was on to make our new building presentable for families.  Over that week, we had the floor waxed and  lockers painted, unpacked all of our boxes, organized all of the classrooms, shelved library books, hung pictures and signage, and installed the new projectors.  We also had a second, smaller, volunteer day with local Morgan Stanley employees.  Again, Hands On Nashville organized a wonderful and productive event for everyone. 

While not 100% ready to go, the building was certainly ready for orientations.  Many families commented how wonderful everything looked and how excited they were to get back to school.  With new scholars coming early the next week, the whole team worked through the weekend to make our new home perfect.

At 7:20 a.m. on August 6, Nashville Prep opened the doors to its first permanent location.  As the first few scholars lined up outside, we could feel their enthusiasm.  At that moment, all of the hassles of renovating and relocating disappeared.  Everything our staff and teachers worked so hard for over the summer was finally here: the opportunity to welcome the class of 2020 to Nashville Prep.

                                           AFTER

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                                         BEFORE

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That moment was made possible by so many committed supporters: donors, teachers, parents, staff members, volunteers, families, scholars, and community members.  We want to give a special thanks to the Frist Foundation, Hands on Nashville, Morgan Stanley, the TN Charter School Center, the Cal Turner Family Foundation and Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools.  So many gracious and wonderful people who share our excitement and enthusiasm for our scholars came together and created this incredible learning environment.  As always, we are extremely thankful for all these people and institutions have done for Nashville Prep as a school and Nashville as a community.

 

Revive McCann Lives On

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Moving forward, our biggest priority is outfitting our auditorium space with the materials needed to put on student productions (curtains, lights, sound).  Our scholars love performing arts and are ready to put on their next performance in our new space.  Visit Revive McCann to learn how you can make that dream a reality. 

 

Norman Atkins: Opportunities for the Next Generation

By Ravi Gupta

In a Harvard Forum last month, our friend Norman Atkins shared advice for the next generation of education reformers.  I recommend you watch the whole speech:

 

Here are a few highlights from the talk:

On Catholic education: 

“Let’s honor what Catholic education did to raise up generations of immigrants . . .. I want us to think about what’s happening as something of a baton pass.  If you look at the number of children in charter schools right now, we are essentially talking about the same number of kids who disappeared from parochial schools.” 

Amen.  As a product of New York City’s public and Catholic schools, I am extremely saddened to see the mass closing of Catholic schools across the county.  The discipline and rigor that my high school (Moore Catholic High School) provided has been a huge inspiration for our work at Nashville Prep.  As Norman points out, no-excuses charters are, by and large, improvements on the Catholic model.  At no-excuses charters, there is more equity (no tuition or selectivity), less strange discipline practices (no slaps with ruler . . . though I never experienced this at Moore), greater transparency, and higher rigor. 

On his inspiration to co-found Northstar: 

“I was really struck by the non-profits all over the city that were, in the best sense Tocquevillian.  They were people who would come together to try to figure out solutions, and I would visit people like Geoffrey Canada, who at the time was running the Rheedlen Centers for Children and Families  before he renamed it Harlem Children’s Zone, and I learned a little bit about what it would take to innovate and create change.  So, I started walking around telling people,  “I’m going to start a school.”" 

I don’t have much to add here, other than it’s cool to imagine a young Norman Atkins and Geoffrey Canada kicking around ideas for education reform. 

On his first class of students at Northstar: 

“I am still close with the 72 kids who walked through the doors on the first day.  They are now 26 years old.” 

That’s only a few years younger than I am, and older than the average Teach for America Corps member. 

On the progress made by education reform reform: 

“I do not want to overstate the success of education reform over the last 20 years.  I think we are on our own 20 yard line.  We have 80 yards to go to create a truly just society  . . . . But modestly, I do think it’s fair to say that organizations, particularly Teach for America, over the past 20-22 years, have created an incredible pipeline in the sector.” 

On the impact of education reform on the practice of teaching: 

“Education reform has created new taxonomies and systems that are being used in district schools and independent schools and parochial schools around the country.”

We at Nashville Prep have certainly benefited from those taxonomies.  We write about it here and here.  We’ve seen Teach Like a Champion, Leverage Leadership, Driven by Data and other works used with much success in classrooms in every sector in education.  Here’s a video of teachers in the Houston Independent School District using the Teach Like a Champion techniques.  These are techniques that were catalogued by a charter school organization and shared out to the larger education community. 

On the future: 

“The baton is being passed to the new generation that has to figure out the next stage of reform to get us the other 80 yards down the field. . .  I now have 20 items for you and your colleagues to bring education reform to the next level.”

 Here are some highlights from those 20 items:

  • “Please take the modest reforms we’ve seen thus far to scale.” 
  • “Do not underestimate the power of poverty to oppress kids. . . . At the same time, do not be sidelined, or paralyzed, by the idea that poverty trumps all.” 
  • “Reform education not just for poor children, but reform education for all children.”
  • “Figure out what it would take to create a GI Bill for teachers. . . .  Let’s tell people that if they stay in teaching for 5 years, we will forgive their unbelievably expensive college debt.” 
  • “We’ve got schools across the country where principals are the building managers.  Please create systems and opportunities for principals to be the instructional leaders of the school.” 
  • “District leaders should be entrepreneurs too.”  
  • “Let’s reform higher education.  Dr. heal thyself.  The field of higher education is undergoing dramatic change.  Why is it four years?  Why does it cost so freaking much?  What can we do differently to make college more relevant, more effective?” 
  • “Commit revolution against textbooks.” 
  • “Radically differentiate.”