Publications Detail

School Choice and Accountability
April 2015
Contact: Tara Bergfeld

This page is intended to provide information on the various school choice options and accountability mechanisms in place for Tennessee school districts. This page will be updated to reflect the most current data available.

OREA reports

Tennessee Charter School Funding - September 2016
Virtual Schools in Tennessee - March 2016
Charter School Facilities - January 2016
Charter Schools: Funding Tennessee’s Authorizers and Schools - November 2014
NAEP: National Assessment of Education Progress - April 2014

Helpful links

TN Department of Education District & School Accountability
TN Department of Education Charter Schools page
TN State Board of Education Charter Schools - links to state board authorizer policies and appeals history
Metro Nashville Charter School Reports - Leases, audits, report cards, and contracts

ASD and Charter Schools in Tennessee 2016-17

Charter Schools

Charter schools are publicly-funded, privately-operated schools authorized by a local school district, the Achievement School District (ASD) or the State Board of Education (SBOE). These authorizers are responsible for oversight of a charter school, including review of charter school applications, contract negotiations, oversight of the academic, organizational, and financial health, and renewal or closure of charter schools. The majority of charters are authorized by local boards of education.

By law, charter schools have autonomy in areas such as personnel and salary policies, curriculum and instruction methods, and financial decisions. Charter schools must meet the same academic performance standards as traditional public schools. Tennessee law allows for the creation of new charter schools and the conversion of traditional public schools into charter schools.

As of the 2016-17 school year, 107 charter schools operate in Tennessee:

Metro Nashville Public Schools: 28
Shelby County Schools: 41
Hamilton County Department of Education: 4
Knox County Schools: 1
Achievement School District: 33

The Achievement School District

The Achievement School District (ASD) was created by Tennessee's First to the Top Act as one of four interventions that the commissioner of education may require to turn around the state’s lowest performing schools. An organizational unit of the Tennessee Department of Education, the ASD provides oversight for the operation of schools assigned to or authorized by the ASD. Priority schools, those schools performing in the bottom 5 percent in the state, are eligible to be placed into the ASD for a minimum of five years. The ASD may directly operate these schools, convert them to public charter schools, or contract with other nonprofit entities to operate them. The goal of the ASD is to move its schools from the bottom 5 percent to the top 25 percent in student achievement. In the 2016-17 school year, 33 schools operate in the ASD, 31 in Shelby County and two in Metro Nashville.

As of the 2016-17 school year, the ASD directly operates 6 of its schools while charter or contract schools are run by the nonprofit entity authorized by the ASD.


The entity operating the ASD school. Direct-run schools are run and managed by the ASD, while charter or contract schools are run by the nonprofit entity authorized by the ASD.


There are three types of ASD schools:

Full Transformation An ASD operator operates all grades of a priority school and gives first priority to students zoned to that priority school.

Phase-In An ASD operator phases into operation of all grades at the priority school, beginning with one or more grades and adding grades until all planned grade levels are served. This model also gives first priority to students zoned to that school.

New Start This is a school that did not previously exist. An ASD operator is authorized to serve students who are assigned to or were previously enrolled in a school on the priority list.

Grades currently served

The ASD and its operators may serve students zoned to or currently enrolled in any priority school in the school district. The ASD allows its operators to determine which grades they will serve, based on their approved school model, and when they will begin serving those grades. For example, a charter school could be approved to serve grades 5-8, but may currently serve only grade 5, because it plans to phase in the other grades.

Grades authorized

The grade configuration for which the operator was approved.


The ASD school shares the building with another school.

Last updated September 22,2016