In Davidson County, 2,875 black third graders take the TCAP exam. Only 153 scored advanced (five percent) in reading. In our neighboring suburb, Williamson County, one in three white children achieves advanced literacy. Today, we know that the roads to selective institutions, high-paying jobs, and future leadership all run through advanced literacy. For contrast, in Davidson County, 560 black third graders are suspended each year. The statistics are staggering. We believe our unique model can change them.
While Nashville Classical is among the city’s smallest schools, we have had an enormous impact. In two years, we will enroll less than one percent of the city’s children of color. However, our school can:
- Enroll one in four of the city’s advanced, black third grader readers.
- Increase the number of advanced, black third grade readers from 146 to 200.
- Be one of five Nashville elementary schools whose diversity matches the district’s.
- Achieve scores higher than 90 percent of the nation‘s children on standardized tests.
- Be Nashville’s only school that both educates a plurality of high-need students and builds proficiency in foreign language and musical instruments.
To get a different result, we knew Nashville Classical needed to be different. Therefore, we provide a “classical” education that prepares students for the 21st century. At Nashville Classical, starting in kindergarten, our scholars will
- Learn to read through exposure to timeless stories and relevant non-fiction.
- Study a foreign language for more than 75 hours each year.
- Sing and play musical instruments to prepare for annual performances.
After two years, we know our approach works. According to the TerraNova, a nationally standardized exam that public and private school children take, our scholars:
- Scored in the 89th (2014) and 94th (2015) National Percentile
- Achieve seven (2014) to eight (2015) extra months of learning
We offer a “classical” education that prepares students for the 21st century. At Nashville Classical, our instructional approach boils down to three key beliefs:
- A balanced elementary education is the foundation for future achievement.
- A diverse school community is the pathway to a productive society.
- A collaborative faculty is the spark for specialized classrooms.
Belief #1: Balanced Elementary Education
- Nashville Classical offers a robust specials program that includes foreign language (Spanish or Latin) and Instrumental Music, starting in K.
- Nashville Classical uses a school-wide character curriculum, built to instill common language, core values, empathy, and leadership.
- Nashville Classical scholars spend two hours in literacy rotations of 5–7 students and thirty minutes on a personalized computer program daily. The focus of literacy rotations is to engage in “Great Book Discussions,” whereas the personalized instruction provides enrichment and remediation.
Belief #2: Diverse School Communities
- Nashville Classical provides free scholar transportation across the city.
- Nashville Classical devotes additional resources to recruiting, enrolling, and partnering with the city’s most needy families including canvasses, targeted mailers, orientations, parent universities, advocacy training, and home visits.
- Nashville Classical offers music, chess, and foreign language to foster scholar empathy and respect for ethnic, economic, and intellectual diversity.
Belief #3: Collaborative Faculty and Specialized Classrooms
- Nashville Classical offers staff 30 days of Professional Development each year.
- Nashville Classical teachers have 30 daily minutes of content planning
time, 50 daily minutes of grade-level planning, and 250 minutes of flexible weekly time for independent work, strategic planning, and family meetings.
- Nashville Classical classrooms feature ten Chromebook computers and teachers utilize programs including I-ready, ST Math, and Learn with Homer. Scholars receive personalized instruction in small groups with teachers and individualized practice on their Chromebooks. Data is tracked weekly, analyzed quarterly, and acted upon constantly.