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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Promises, promises: LeBron James' school struggles in Akron

Akron's I Promise School opened five years ago with high hopes and lots of extra funding from basketball star LeBron James' foundation. The district-run school is now one of the lowest-scoring schools in Ohio, reports 3News. Of the first cohort, now eighth graders, none has tested as proficient in math since third grade.

I Promise recruits "at risk" third-graders who test below the 30th percentile. The extra funding pays for smaller classes, a longer school day and a variety of support services for students' families, a majority of whom are low-income and black.

The school features a "STEM curriculum with a 'We Are Family' philosophy . . . that creates a culture conducive to social-emotional learning." Teaching is "trauma-informed."

The school, now with students in third through eighth grade, only takes kids who've gotten off to a bad start. That's a very tough challenge.

But proficiency scores don't improve: 6.6 percent are proficiency in English language arts in third grade and remain below 10 percent. In math, 11.5 percent are proficient in third grade; that drops to 1 percent by fifth grade. That's bad, even for Akron, which has a lot of low-scoring schools.

Do I Promise's struggles show the community school model doesn't work? Or that creating an effective school for high-need students has to focus on teaching and curriculum? (There's no point saying curriculum is STEM focused if 90+ percent of students are weak in math.)

Of course, the pandemic disrupted learning for I Promise, which saw test scores fall. But they fell this year too.

A new principal has taken over this year: School started yesterday.


Steve Sherman
Steve Sherman
Aug 03, 2023

The purpose of the school wasn't to educate 'at risk' kids it's to push more Nike gear.


Aug 02, 2023

If one wants to find out the motivations of the right of center celebrities who are obsessing over the I promise school, one can view

The right seems to resent the fawning media coverage given to the I Promise schools and wants to use the school's failure as proof that progressives are always wrong.

What is odd is that many social conservative blacks sound similar to Lebron James when it comes to discussing black males.


Aug 01, 2023

How are Deion and Pitbull's charter schools doing?!

Joanne Jacobs
Joanne Jacobs
Aug 02, 2023
Replying to

Pitbull's SLAM schools claim academic success:

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