Tennessee’s Achievement School District, or ASD for short, is one of the most high profile education experiments in the country. In 2011, fueled by winning a Race To The Top grant, then education commissioner and former TFA vice president and former husband of Michelle Rhee, Kevin Huffman hired TFA alum and founder of Houston’s YES Prep charter schools Chris Barbic to be the ASD’s first superintendent.
Every three years Tennessee releases a ‘priority schools’ list. These are the schools whose test scores put them in the bottom 5% of the state. The way the ASD was set up, schools on the priority list can be taken over by the state and managed by the ASD or the ASD can authorize a charter school to take over one of those schools. According to their website, “The Achievement School District was created to catapult the bottom 5% of schools in Tennessee straight to the top 25% in the state.” Their time frame for accomplishing this was five years. They started with six schools in 2011 and they currently have about 30 schools in the ASD.