By Associated Press - Thursday, December 22, 2016

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Less than two-thirds of the teachers in the state-run Achievement School District last year were considered “highly qualified.”

Just under 65 percent of ASD teachers last year were considered “highly qualified,” The Commercial Appeal ( reported, citing data from the Tennessee State Report Card. About 97 percent of teachers met that standard statewide.

To meet that highest level, a teacher must have a bachelor’s degree, a license and a demonstrated ability to teach the subject he or she is teaching.

The state created the ASD five years ago using federal grant funding to transform schools performing in the bottom 5 percent. Its work has been controversial, as most schools’ operations are outsourced to private charter networks. Each charter operator is responsible for hiring staff for the schools.

Gary Henry, an education professor at Vanderbilt University, said the ASD’s low rate is a “red flag” but it doesn’t necessarily mean the teachers aren’t effective.

“It’s a relatively low bar for traditional schools to meet, but it’s probably not a meaningful statistic for parents to focus on when they’re thinking about choosing a school for their child,” Henry said.

The number could indicate many teachers in the district are having to teach classes outside their subject area of expertise or are being hired on an emergency basis.

The ASD declined an interview with the newspaper but said in an email that the district, which mostly operates in Memphis, was still working to “reconcile” the newly released data. Last year, the numbers were nearly identical.


Information from: The Commercial Appeal,

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