Barack Obama Praised The Early Success Of LeBron James’ ‘I Promise’ School

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LeBron James has long maintained his focus on community-minded efforts, particularly in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, where last summer he unveiled his most ambitious altruistic project yet — an alternative public school that serves some 240 of the area’s most underprivileged and at-risk students.

There was healthy skepticism, however, about the efficacy of the school and whether students would be able to meet district, state-level and national expectations, given the academic rigors involved, but according to the early returns, the money and resources LeBron’s poured into this endeavor are already appearing to close the achievement gap.

The New York Times reported on Friday that, according to the school’s initial MAP assessments (Measure of Academic Progress), 90 percent of third and fourth graders were meeting their individual growth goals. LeBron and others, rightfully, celebrated those numbers as a win.

As did former President Barack Obama, who took to Twitter to congratulate LeBron, the students, and the school’s administrators on Friday.

It bears clarifying, however, that “individual growth goals” are not the same as more traditional grade-level assessments. But, they do offer a snapshot of an individual student’s learning progress. It’s also tempting to see this as evidence that access to money and resources is resulting in higher achievement, although the many variables involved these assessments are dizzying in their complexity.

Regardless, it’s a great start for scores of students who were previously lost in an educational system that is ill-equipped to nurture the growth and development of those on the fringes.