Transition to The Achievement School District

Chris Barbic, the superintendent of the Achievement School District (ASD) and Dr. Kriner Cash, superintendent of Memphis City School (MCS), announced on February 27, 2012, that Cornerstone Prep would join the ASD, working in the Lester School building during the 2012-2013 school year. This Fall, for the 2015-2016 school year, we will add grades seven and eight to Lester Prep, completing our campus transformation.

What is the Achievement School District (ASD)?

The ASD is a statewide district committed to dramatically improving the education of every student regardless of zip code, race, or family income. The ASD’s goal is to transform the bottom five percent of schools into the top 25 percent of schools in the next five years. Find out more at

Why did the ASD Convert Lester School Into a Charter School?

In the past, Lester School consistently performed in the bottom five percent of all schools in the state of Tennessee. All schools in the bottom five percent are eligible to become ASD turnaround schools. The ASD decided to convert Lester School into a charter school to give it the flexibility to provide innovative, student-centered learning opportunities, while holding it accountable for significant growth in student achievement. The ASD will continue to convert several more MCS schools like Lester School into charter schools in the future.

How Did Cornerstone Prep Get Approved to Join the ASD?

Cornerstone Preparatory Schools, Inc. applied and went through the rigorous approval process of the ASD. The process included completion of a lengthy application, interviews with a third-party authorizer and interviews and school visits from the ASD. Cornerstone Prep was the only elementary school approved to join the ASD for 2012-2013. Cornerstone Prep and Lester Prep are now run by a nonprofit organization called Capstone Education Group which is authorized to create and run schools in the state of Tennessee.

Who Will Be Able To Attend?

All students currently zoned to attend Lester School in Binghampton and Denver Elementary in Frayser that are in grades Pre-Kindergarten through fifth grade (elementary campuses) and grades six through eight (Lester Prep) are able to attend the campus relevant to them. In fact, all students fitting this description will be assigned to Cornerstone Prep/Lester Prep as their neighborhood school. This guarantees that all students who would normally attend Lester School or Denver Elementary will be able to attend Cornerstone Prep/Lester Prep. Other students who live in Binghampton, Frayser or other ASD-eligible districts may also be able to attend Cornerstone Prep/Lester Prep.

What is the history of the Binghampton Community?

The Binghampton community is located between two major east-west arteries: Summer and Poplar Avenues on the north and south, with East Parkway and Holmes the east and west boundaries. Binghampton began as an independent and racially-integrated rural Memphis town in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Annexed by Memphis in 1919 when the city’s growth pushed to the east, Binghampton eventually came to be surrounded by more affluent neighborhoods. Binghampton proper has experienced shifting character as a result of development, various stages of racial segregation, and a transition from owner- to renter-occupied housing. The Binghampton neighborhood is located eight miles east of downtown Memphis at its very geographic center. 

Currently, there are two elementary schools in the Binghampton area. Those schools are Lester Elementary School and Brewster Elementary School. Since Lester Elementary has been in existence for a much longer time than Brewster (opened just three years ago), a further analysis of Lester Elementary is provided below.

In 2008, Lester Elementary had 814 students enrolled with nearly 98 percent of them African American and less than two percent of the students Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic, Native American/Alaskan, and Caucasian.

Further, more than 92 percent of students at Lester were economically disadvantaged as evident by those eligible for the Free and Reduced Lunch program in accordance with guidelines from the United States Department of Agriculture.

How is the transformation going so far? 

The academic growth of students over the last two years has been amazing. For example, in Year 1, the 3rd grade increased their reading levels by 2.5 grade levels in just one year and scored in the 95th percentile in math growth as measured by a national assessment. In Year 2, student growth on the state assessment, TCAP, reveled double digit gains in all subjects and prompted a celebratory visit from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.  Click here for more information on the academic results of our students.