TNReady Data Analysis: Nashville’s historically underserved students thrive in public charter schools

2019 TNReady results show economically disadvantaged students, students of color in public charter schools far outpace their peers in district, state


Nashville students who are economically disadvantaged succeed at far higher rates when they attend a public charter school than they do in other public school settings, an analysis of the 2019 TNReady results show. 

The vast majority of Nashville’s public charter schools are classified as Title 1 schools, which means most of their students are considered economically disadvantaged. Data from the 2019 TNReady state standardized testing shows that the percentage of economically disadvantaged students in Nashville public charter schools significantly outpaces their peers in all other Nashville public schools. 

The success rate of economically disadvantaged students in public charter schools is higher than district-managed schools by 50 percent in ELA, 83 percent in math, and 81 percent in social studies. The chart below shows the comparisons:


“These results show that public charter schools in Nashville are living up to their mission to close achievement gaps and improve educational equity across our city,” said Todd Dickson, Founder/CEO of Valor Collegiate Academies and chair of the Nashville Charter Collaborative.

Students in public charter schools also showed tremendous growth in math between 2018 and 2019. Students of color grew the most, with Hispanic students showing an 8.1 percentage point increase in elementary and middle school math. Similarly, black or African American students posted a 6.18 percentage point gain. 

“For years, data have shown that there are unconscionable achievement gaps among historically underserved groups of students in Metro Nashville Public Schools, leading to a system where economically disadvantaged students and students of color have not received the same level of education and support as their more affluent and white peers,” said Maya Bugg, executive director of the Tennessee Charter School Center. “The 2019 TNReady results show that Nashville’s public charter schools are doing a better job of educating these underserved students, and are a critical component of closing achievement gaps and improving educational equity in Nashville.”

In addition to the strong results in academic proficiency, of the 26 public charter schools in Nashville with a Tennessee Value Added Assessment System, or TVAAS, score, 13 scored a Level 5,  which is the highest score possible for academic growth. Nearly 75 percent of public charter schools scored a Level 3 or higher, which represents the expected academic growth in a given school year.

Eight of Nashville’s 37 Reward Schools—schools that are recognized for growth and achievement — were charter schools. Those schools are: 

  • KIPP Academy Nashville

  • KIPP Academy Nashville Elementary 

  • KIPP Nashville College Prep

  • Liberty Collegiate Academy

  • Nashville Classical 

  • Rocketship Nashville Northeast Elementary

  • Valor Flagship Academy

  • Valor Voyager Academy

Notably, all of the MNPS middle and high schools that achieved Reward School status are charter schools or academic magnet schools. While academic magnet schools have academic entrance requirements, such as test scores, public charter schools in Nashville do not, and they are open for enrollment regardless of where students live. 


Janel Lacy