2022 City Studies
Summary of Findings
This summary highlights major findings about students’ academic performance in public K-12 schools in Memphis, Tennessee. Performance is measured by one-year learning gains or growth students made from one school year to the next. We benchmark Memphis students’ growth against the state average growth and then compare the progress of charter, Achievement School District (ASD), and optional school students with that of similar traditional district school students within Memphis, accounting for student characteristics.1
Students in Memphis exhibited similar growth in 2017-18 and weaker progress in 2018-19 compared to the statewide average student in reading. In math, Memphis students made similar learning gains compared to the state average in both years.
Memphis ASD students posted weaker growth than the state average in both subjects across 2017-18 and 2018-19. Memphis optional school students registered greater reading and math gains than the state average in both years. Students in Memphis charter and traditional district schools were on par with the statewide average student in both subjects across the two years.
Within Memphis, Memphis ASD students showed weaker growth in reading in 2017-18 and 2018-19 and less math gains in 2018-19 than traditional district school students. In both years, Memphis charter schools indicated no significant difference, while Memphis optional schools exhibited stronger growth in reading and math relative to Memphis traditional district schools.
A deeper dive into Memphis student growth for the period ending in Spring 2019 reveals the following findings:
Charter School Type:
Memphis charter schools make progress similar to the state average in both reading and math, regardless of whether they are affiliated with a Charter Management Organization (CMO) or independent charter schools. There is no significant difference in learning gains between CMOs and independent charter schools within the Memphis charter sector in either subject.
Memphis black students, overall and particularly those at ASD and traditional district schools, show weaker growth in reading than the average black student in the state. Memphis optional school black students make greater reading gains, while Memphis charter school black students grow similarly compared to the state average of black students. Memphis black students as a whole are on par with the average black student statewide in math gains. Breakout analysis for math by school sectors find weaker growth among Memphis ASD schools, greater progress among optional schools, and no significant difference for charter or traditional district schools compared to the state average of black students. Within Memphis, ASD black students exhibit weaker growth, charter school black students show no difference, and optional school black students make great gains than district school black students in both reading and math.
Hispanic students in Memphis overall do not grow differently in reading or math compared to the average Hispanic student in the state. School sector breakout analyses reveal only weaker reading gains for Memphis ASD Hispanic students than the state average of Hispanic students. Within Memphis, ASD Hispanic students underperform traditional district school Hispanic students, while charter and optional school Hispanic students show no significant difference in reading gains. Hispanic students at Memphis ASD, charter, and optional schools post similar growth in math relative to Hispanic students at Memphis traditional district school.
Poverty, ELL, and Special Education:
Memphis students living in poverty show the same patterns across reading and math. Overall, they are on par with the average student in poverty in the state. Memphis ASD students in poverty exhibit weaker growth, while Memphis optional school students in poverty make greater progress than the average student in poverty statewide. Students living in poverty at Memphis charter or traditional district schools do not indicate significant difference. Comparisons within Memphis demonstrate that compared to the average student living in poverty statewide, ASD students in poverty make less progress, those from charter schools show no significant difference, and those from optional schools register greater gains in both subjects.
English Language Learners (ELLs) in Memphis, overall and regardless of the sector of their schools, make similar learning gains in reading compared to the state average of ELLs. In math, ELL students in Memphis as a whole grow similarly compared to the average ELL in the state. Sector breakout analysis for math indicate that ELL students in Memphis optional schools lag behind the average ELL statewide. Comparisons of sectors within Memphis reveal similar growth in reading among Ells at ASD, charter schools, and optional schools ELLs when they are compared to traditional district ELLs. In math, ELLs at Memphis optional schools post weaker growth than ELLs at traditional district schools.
Memphis students receiving special education services overall exhibit similar growth in reading. Special education students enrolled in Memphis optional schools outpace the average special education statewide in reading, while no significant difference is found among special education students served by the other types of Memphis schools. In math, Memphis special education students make progress similar to the state average of special education students, no matter which school sector they attend. The only significant difference surfacing from cross-sector comparisons within Memphis is that special education students in optional schools make greater gains in reading than special education students in traditional district schools.
Male students in Memphis exhibited similar growth patterns across reading and math. Overall, they are on par with the statewide average male student. Memphis ASD male students undergrow the average male student in the state, while Memphis optional school male students post greater learning gains. Male students from Memphis charter or traditional district schools register growth similar to the state average of male students. Within Memphis, ASD male students exhibit weaker growth, charter school male students make similar progress, and optional school male students post greater gains compared to male students at traditional district schools in both reading and math.
Memphis female students, overall and particularly those from ASD, charter schools and traditional district schools, lag behind the average female student in the state in reading growth. In contrast, Memphis optional school female students show stronger reading growth than the state average of peers. In math, no significant difference is found among Memphis female students as a whole and especially those from charter, optional and traditional district schools, when they are compared to the average female student statewide. Memphis ASD female students post weaker math gains than the state average of female students. Within Memphis, ASD female students make weaker growth in both reading and math than their peers from traditional district schools. Charter school female students show similar gains in both subjects. Optional school students make greater progress in reading and equivalent growth in math than their counterparts at traditional district schools.
1 ASD schools in Memphis are the schools needing improvement that are directly run by the district’s staff or operated by charter management organizations (CMOs) authorized by the district. Optional schools in this study are defined as district-run schools that screen all the students with academic criteria.
Presentation of Findings