State names potential turnaround operators for failing schools

The state of Indiana identified the three private school-management organizations it could tap to help improve the performance of six struggling Indianapolis public schools and one in Gary.

New York-based EdisonLearning, Florida-based Charters Schools USA Inc. and Indianapolis-based EdPower were selected by the Indiana Department of Education to be potential turnaround school operators. EdPower is a school-management arm of the Charles A. Tindley charter school in Indianapolis.

But it won’t be until next month that the department, with the approval of the State Board of Education, determines whether those companies will actually be tapped to work in an Indiana school.

The local schools—all part of the Indianapolis Public Schools district—that will face an intervention from the state are Arlington High School, Broad Ripple High School, Donnan Middle School, Manual High School, Howe Community School and Washington Community School.

Also, the Roosevelt Career & Technical Academy in Gary was deemed to need some sort of state intervention. The state could close the schools, merge them with a higher performing school, approve a turnaround plan led by existing school management, or bring in one of the three outside operators.

“These schools have failed their children for far too long,” said Tony Bennett, Indiana’s superintendent of public instruction, at a press conference Friday morning. “The state will have the courage to act.”

All seven schools have been on academic probation for six years, the lowest category possible based on their student scores and pass rates on the state standardized ISTEP and End-of-Course Assessment tests.

According to a 1999 law, schools in the probationary category for six straight years can be taken over by the state. This is the first year the state has taken such action.

Eleven other school had been on academic probation for five straight years, but managed to improve their scores enough to dodge state takeover.  That list included one school from IPS, Northwest High School.

IPS Superintendent Eugene White said he would appeal some of the scores the Department of Education assigned to IPS schools, which schools can do each year. Bennett said he would consider such an appeal.

Also, three schools from South Bend, two from Fort Wayne and two from Hammond escaped state takeover after five straight years of academic probation.

Bennett congratulated those schools, but added that their work toward improvement still has a long way to go.

“The journey of those 11 schools is just beginning,” Bennett said.


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