The most meaningful result for LeBron James this season wasn’t on the court.
It came in the classrooms of his I Promise School, the public school he founded for at-risk students in conjunction with Akron Public Schools and the LeBron James Family Foundation.
The I Promise School opened in August for 240 third- and fourth-graders, and it has seen tangible results.
MAP (measures of academic progress) testing from the fall to the winter period at the school showed improvement, according the Akron Public Schools Office of School Improvement:
- 90% of students – who started the school year at least one year behind grade level – met or exceeded their expected growth in math and reading.
- Test scores increased at a rate higher than 99 out of 100 schools, per Northwest Evaluation (NWEA) school norms.
- Third-graders went from the first percentile to the 18th percentile in math, moving from intensive tier of support to targeted levels of support.
- Fourth-graders went from the second percentile to the 30th percentile in math, going from intensive tier of support to low universal tier of support.
- All IPS students were below grade level in reading, and in the latest testing scores, 23% of students scored at or above the 25th percentile in reading, putting them at or near grade level.
What do the testing scores mean? IPS students are closing the achievement gap.
“We are going to be that groundbreaking school that will be a nationally recognized model for urban and public school excellence,” I Promise School principal and Akron native Brandi Davis said in August. “We are letting people know it is about true wrap-around support, true family integration and true compassion.”
The school, which is a year-round operation providing daily breakfast, lunch and snacks for students, also provides education, career and emotional support for parents. The bulk of the school year is August through May, but all students participate in a seven-week summer-school program.
“It’s encouraging to see growth, but by no means are we out of the woods,” Keith Liechty, a coordinator in Akron public school system’s Office of School Improvement, told The New York Times. “The goal is for these students to be at grade level, and we’re not there yet. This just tells us we’re going in the right direction.”
Liechty also said: “For the average student, your percentile doesn’t move that much unless something extraordinary is happening.”
The school will add fifth grade next year and continue adding grades until it is grades 1-8 by 2022.
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt