I’m sure you know all about Valor Collegiate Academies, a local Nashville public charter school powerhouse that’s blowing everybody away with their students’ test score results. This charter network is part of a special group of Nashville schools that prove that ALL students can learn despite obstacles. Valor has received national recognition for their work and now they’re getting kudos plus a healthy check.
A couple weeks ago, while I was celebrating my 25th wedding anniversary, I got a line in my inbox saying something about Walton funding an extra $100 million in grants. Someone told me Nashville’s getting a piece of that pie, so I put a pin in that to come back and see what it was all about.
Two weeks later…
I’m just getting around to checking out the news. That’s what happens when you’ve been around long enough to be celebrating your silver anniversary.
Good thing I went back to it because buried in the national announcement is a note about Valor:
“Valor Collegiate Academies is a network of high-performing, intentionally diverse public charter schools in Nashville, TN. This support will allow Valor to codify its successful model that blends academic rigor and social-emotional learning and share best practices with schools in Nashville and across the nation.”
Full disclosure, I’m part of the Education Post network, which is partly funded by Walton, so you’re fine to accuse me of bias, but the facts are the facts. Walton is putting serious money behind one of Nashville’s highest performing schools and, quite frankly, I hope to see more support for others – charters and, yes, traditional public schools.
Also found in the report Rooted in Opportunity: The Walton Family Foundation’s Approach to Starting and Growing High-Quality Schools is a commitment to “district and private schools embracing accountability and autonomy.” In recent years, the foundation has increased its giving to traditional districts. I’m excited to see district schools as part of the Waltons’ commitment to high-performing schools. I believe we must be committed to the prize and not the packaging.
We just need more schools in Nashville that can figure out how to get the kind of results seen at Valor and dozens of Nashville schools with high numbers of black and Hispanic students, and children who come from poverty. High performing means setting high standards, believing ALL kids can reach them, and then doing it. High performing means consistently getting results that show how kids are on track to learn the knowledge and skills they’ll need to succeed in life and to hopefully keep our city strong. High performing to me means flipping the script on our city’s current reading rates.
Congratulations to the Valor family for its enormous success with students and the national recognition (and funding!) in response. Well-deserved.
See a recent example of Valor’s excellence:
Excerpt from a note to parents from Valor’s CEO Todd Dickson a few weeks ago:
“Our founding 8th graders, who came to us behind grade level on average when they started with us 3 or 4 years ago, literally broke the MAP scale in both Reading and Math!
For Reading, our average score at end of 8th grade was a RIT score of 229 points. The highest score on the MAP chart for high school is 222.3 points!
For Math, our average score is an amazing 242 points. The highest score on the MAP chart for high school is 235 points! I am now used to seeing these kids and teachers do amazing things, but this one is a truly remarkable accomplishment! I can’t wait to see where they end up after 4 more years of quality instruction at the high school!
Our 5th graders tested, on average, above 7th grade level on both Reading and Math.
Our 6th graders tested, on average, above 9th grade level on both Reading and Math.
Our 7th graders tested, on average, above the 11th grade level on both Reading and Math.”