The first year for four schools turned over to independent operators has brought little change in ISTEP scores.
Passing rates went up four points at Arlington High School in Indy and five at Gary Roosevelt, but more than three-quarters of the students in those schools still flunked. At Indy‘s Howe High School and Donnan Middle School, passing rates went down a point or two.
All four schools‘ passing rates were 30-percent or below, placing them in the bottom seven statewide. The state took control of the four schools after six years of failing performance while under district control.
Spokeswoman Beverly Rella with EdPower, the Indianapolis group now operating Arlington, says the small improvement is disappointing but not entirely surprising. She says EdPower‘s other school, the Charles A. Tindley charter school, performed poorly in its first couple of years after opening in 2004.
This year, 83-percent of Tindley‘s students passed ISTEP, the 42nd-best performance in the state. Rella says the primary goal for the first year, at Tindley and at Arlington, is to create a safe environment that encourages learning. She expects test scores will follow as they did at Tindley.
Jay Kenworthy with the education reform group Stand for Children agrees it‘ll take a few years to judge the private operators‘ performance. And he says ISTEP shouldn‘t be the only measure anyway. He says the schools should also be judged by how many of their graduates go on to college.
Indianapolis Manual High School, also taken over by the state, includes only grades 9 through 12 and therefore doesn‘t have any students taking the test.