Tennessee Department of Education officials have been quietly taken over because of inept handling of fiscal affairs, according to a Comptroller’s audit outlined to legislators Wednesday. The actions included dismissal of the entire financial management staff at ASD. The audit reported troubles ranging from a $2,500 expenditure for a party where liquor was served to generally loose oversight of money.
Further from the Times-Free Press:
The intervention, which began last fall, only came to light Wednesday — the result of the public release of a blistering state comptroller performance audit that represented the watchdog agency’s first comprehensive look at the district’s internal controls since it was created in 2010.
Many of the findings don’t look good for the agency created to help low-performing schools. (Note: Full audit HERE)
The Legislature’s Black Caucus is pushing for a moratorium on expansion of the Tennessee’s Achievement School District with Chairwoman Brenda Gilmore citing a lack of progress in the schools it now oversees, reports The Tennessean.
“The Tennessee Black Caucus stands in unity today, with the Democratic Caucus, asking that the ASD delay any further expansions until better results can be shown and substantiated,” Gilmore said. “The ASD should go back to its original goal and refocus on intense intervention at a small number of schools.”
Democratic Caucus leaders Monday also expressed support for a moratorium, although the caucus hasn’t taken a formal stance.
The ASD is the state district authorized to take over the bottom 5 percent of low-performing schools and has recently seen backlash in Memphis after it announced a takeover Dec. 11 of four more schools in the area. The ASD oversees 29 schools, with 27 in Memphis and two in Nashville — Neelys Bend and Brick Church middle schools.
The community backlash caused Shelby County Schools to pass a resolution that includes a moratorium on the ASD’s takeover of any more schools “until they show consistent progress in improving student academic achievement,” according to The Commercial Appeal.
Also fueling the controversy is a recent Vanderbilt University report saying district-run turnaround efforts of low-performing schools have yielded better results than that of Tennessee’s Achievement School District. The report also highlighted that reform efforts such as the ASD take time.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Achievement School District is rolling out a new pay schedule in an effort to entice high-performance teachers.
The Commercial Appeal (http://bit.ly/UdsyEw) reports a teacher with a fresh degree could earn $62,500 after six years of teaching with the ASD — and that doesn’t include bonus pay of up to $7,000 for the best performing schools.
The base salary is $16,000 more per year than Shelby County schools pay for the same amount of experience.
Currently, ASD teachers make $49,747 on average, which is $6,000 less than the average for teachers at Memphis City Schools.
The Achievement School District runs low-performing schools across the state with a goal of significantly improving student performance over five years. The goal is to take schools in the bottom 5 percent of achievement and put them in the top 25 percent.
Six schools in Memphis are assigned to the Achievement School District this year, but that number will double next year.
“Last July, amid the craziness of startup, we talked to our teachers about the guiding principles of meaningful pay,” said Ash Solar, ASD chief talent officer. “We spent the last four months building a system that reflects their priorities.”
That means student achievement on standardized tests and what the principal observes in the classroom will lead to more pay instead of seniority and advanced degrees.
“We tied everything to student results and teacher performance,” Solar said. “Every effective teacher gets a raise, period. How much that raise is will be based on performance and pathway.”
Teachers just starting out are paid $40,000, which will increase by $2,500 after their first year if they score at the top of the performance charts. After that, they will receive a $5,000 bump in pay each time they move to a higher bracket.
“We have built this compensation structure toward the goal of being the best place to work,” Solar said. “If teachers are at a fork in the road, and are wondering if this is good or bad, we have built this system to be good.”