Indiana News

IPS Appeal of "Failing School" Designations Faces Tough Test

Appeal will hinge on statistical quirks, not decision to meld junior-senior highs

8/9/2011

The Indianapolis Public Schools face a steep challenge in persuading the state that four high schools don't belong on the list of schools facing a possible state takeover.

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IPS has appealed the classification of Howe, Washington, Arlington and Broad Ripple as failing schools, because they've added middle school students who pulled overall scores down.

State school superintendent Tony Bennett says 140 other Indiana schools combine middle and high school students and still met state standards.

But Bennett says he's not prejudging the appeal. The state has granted waivers for statistical quirks, where students were counted who shouldn't have been. Even if the appeal is denied, it doesn't necessarily mean the schools will be taken over.

IPS Superintendent Eugene White has suggested the district should sue if the waiver request is denied.

Bennett suggests IPS might have spared itself a lot of difficulty by reaching out to the state before it landed on the takeover list, not after. He says several schools who got themselves off probation did so with help from the state. Some teamed with the state to implement an eight-step school improvement template that White now says he'd like to institute at IPS.

But Bennett says he's pleased to see that spirit of collaboration from IPS now. Bennett met with White and the IPS board at a public meeting Monday night.

Two other IPS schools, Manual High School and Emma Donnan Middle School, are on the potential takeover list after falling short of state standards for six straight years.

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