Not one 8th grade student at LeBron James’ ‘I Promise School’ has passed a state math test in over 3 years

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Not one 8th grade student at LeBron James I Promise School has passed a state math test in over 3 years

Not one incoming eighth-grade student at LeBron James’ I Promise School in Akron, Ohio, has passed a state math test in over three years, according to the Akron Beacon Journal. Students have not passed the state’s math test since the third grade, per the report.

The inaugural class was in the third grade in the 2018-19 school year. In addition to disappointing math test scores, only 8% of I Promise students tested proficient in English. As sixth graders in the 2021-22 school year, the inaugural class scored a 0% in mathematics and 3.1% in English language arts.

The 2022-23 report cards will be released in the coming months. Akron Public Schools administrators have already confirmed the class was at 0% in seventh-grade math as well. Equally important, grades have declined since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is discouraging,” said Keith Liechty-Clifford, the district’s director of school improvement. School board President Derrick Hall expressed his disappointment about the school’s underperforming test scores.

“For me as a board member, I just think about all the resources that we’re providing,” Hall said. “And I just, I’m just disappointed that I don’t think, it doesn’t appear like we’re seeing the kind of change that we would expect to see.”

A number of NBA fans feel LeBron James is at fault. Is he responsible for the school’s underperformance? James paid $2 million to build the school in 2017. Plus, the four-time MVP pledged $2 million per year to fund it.

Not one eighth-grade student at LeBron James’ I Promise School has passed a state math test in over three years, school ranks in the bottom 50% of all 3,137 schools in Ohio

The LeBron James Family Foundation released a statement last Monday. “When we started this work to wraparound students through education, we entered this partnership with Akron Public School for the long haul,” an official spokesperson said.

“Because this work requires a long-term commitment, hard work, and a lot of love and care. And that’s what we bring each and every day because the I Promise School is more than a school.

“We’re here for the ups and downs and will continue to wraparound our students and their entire families so they can be successful in school and in life, no matter the challenges and obstacles that come their way.”

Furthermore, it is important to note that in the year before the COVID-19 pandemic (2018-19), the inaugural class of I Promise third graders scored 15.7% proficiency in English and 17.4% in math.

By the end of the 2020-21 school year, I Promise School ranked in the bottom 50% of all 3,137 schools in Ohio based on math and reading proficiency testing, per Public School Review. Not to mention, about 57% of students are male.

LeBron James’ I Promise School was first approved by the Akron School Board in November 2017. It is a public school created in a partnership with the LeBron James Family Foundation to help struggling students.

I Promise School Rankings & Performances

Reading Proficiency Rank 1,631st
Math Proficiency Rank 1,498th
Reading Performance  Well Below Expectations
Math Performance Well Below Expectations

See above on where I Promise School ranks on the 1,637 tested schools ranked in Ohio, per U.S. News. The school officially opened on Jul. 30, 2018. Two-hundred-forty students attended grades third and fourth that year. At the end of the school year, academic tests were administered by the Northwest Evaluation Association.

In the 2018-19 school year, approximately 90% of the school’s 240 inaugural students either met or exceeded their expected learning goals in both math and reading. Of course, this changed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

After initially scoring in the lowest one-percentile in both subjects, third and fourth graders went on to finish in the ninth and 16th percentile in reading and to the 18th and 30th percentile in math.

I Promise School first opened for students in grades third and fourth. About 120 third and 120 fourth graders were enrolled at I Promise School for the 2018-19 school year.

About 42% of students demonstrated growth in iReady math across their seventh-grade school year

Moreover, the school added new grade levels until 2022. Grades first through eighth are now part of the curriculum, increasing the enrollment to 534 students as of 2023.

“Our students have not yet met the grade-level mastery mark, but they are demonstrating growth based on iReady scores,” Principal Stephanie Davis said. “Of our incoming eighth graders, 32% met their annual typical growth in reading while 11% met their stretch goal for the year.

“Despite not mastering the grade-level standards, 42% of students demonstrated growth in iReady math across their seventh-grade school year.”

2022 Performance Index Rankings of the 50 Lowest-Performing Schools in Ohio


Performance Score



Stephanie Tubbs Jones


Western Hills University High School


Johnson Park Middle School


Spring Elementary School


Virtual High School


I Promise School


Taft Elementary School


Summit Academy Community School – Dayton


Steel Academy


Windsor STEM Academy (K-6)


Cincinnati Achievement Academy


Woodward High School


North Columbus Preparatory Academy


Franklin D. Roosevelt


East Technical High School


Lighthouse School


Alfred Benesch


Special Education Center




Elevated Excellence Academy


Bridge Gate Community School


West High School


Linden-McKinley STEM Academy


Akron Alternative Academy


Youngstown Preparatory Academy


Buckeye Warrior Academy


Natividad Pagan International Newcomers Academy


Dunbar Early College High School


RAM Nation Virtual Academy


Autism Model School


Madison Online Learning Academy


Dampe Community School


Wilson Alternative School


North Ridgeville Online Community


Westfield/Robinson Achievement


Newton Falls Learning Academy


East Bridge Academy of Excellence


Columbus Scioto 6-12


Badger Online


East Liverpool Online Academy


Cincinnati Digital Academy


Chardon Early Learning Center


Crestview Early Childhood Center


Little Miami Early Childhood Center


Citizens of the World Charter Schools – Cincinnati


Mt. Healthy Early Learning Center


Black River Local Virtual School


North College Hill Trojan Way Learning Center


Marysville Virtual School


  • Performance Index Rankings were retrieved from Ohio’s Department of Education

Free tuition is provided by University of Akron for every I Promise School graduating student, annual costs to maintain I Promise School are an estimated $8 million

Free tuition is provided by University of Akron for every I Promise School graduating student under the I Promise Network Scholarship. In 2015, this agreement was established between the LeBron James Family Foundation, JP Morgan Chase, and the University of Akron.

For Akron public school students to receive free tuition, students are required to graduate high school with a minimum 3.0 grade point average.

However, the school is expensive to maintain. Besides start-up costs, annual costs are reportedly $8 million.

Additionally, the project is also funded by taxpayers. This is one logical reason why parents are upset. It has become a burden on taxpayers, who live in the low-income school district.

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