Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools: The Academies of Nashville- Urban High School Transformation
Originally posted at District Administration by Ariana Rawls Fine
In 2006, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) received a $6.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to implement the Smaller Learning Communities model in its comprehensive high schools.
Public schools in Nashville were in near-crisis mode. MNPS failed to make adequate yearly progress under the federal No Child Left Behind legislation. As a result, in 2009, the district was placed under the direction of the state of Tennessee.
The Academies of Nashville is MNPS’ primary initiative to prepare more than 17,000 high school students for college, career and life. Each of the 12 comprehensive high schools house academies where students take general education classes, electives and specialized courses. Each academy has its own principal, counselor, coach, interdisciplinary team of teachers, and a network of business partners to help students.
The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and the nonprofit PENCIL Foundation and Alignment Nashville link community resources to the academies. More than 310 businesses provide opportunities for experiential learning, host teacher teams for training, and help develop curriculum.
The National Career Academy Coalition has accredited 20 of MNPS’ academies with 18 having received the “Model” distinction. In addition to increases in the percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced in the end-of-course exams, MNPS graduation rates have increased from 58 percent in 2005 to 79 percent in 2014.
In recognition of the innovation and success of this initiative, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools has been named a District of Distinction by District Administration. Metropolitan Nashville was among 62 districts that were honored in the March 2015 round of Districts of Distinction, the magazine’s national recognition program for K12 school districts.
“We are pleased to honor Metropolitan Nashville as a District of Distinction,” says JD Solomon, editorial director at District Administration magazine. “Like all our honorees, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools serves as a model for school leaders across the country.”