Indiana News

As Hoosier Students Look For Options, Many Charters Aren't Making The Grade

11/30/2012

More Hoosier students are attending charter schools, but just like the choice between charters and traditional public schools is critical, the choice between who operates that charter is also extremely important.

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Currently there are five charter school authorizers in the state.

The largest operator, Ball State University, also has the worst track record according to the state's A-F grading system.

The latest data from the Indiana Department of Education shows more than 60-percent of Ball State University's charters either dropping a grade or more, or maintaining a failing grade.

Bob Marra with Ball State's charter program says there are problems, but he says the university is working with national charter organizations to adopt stricter accountability measures.

A recent announcement by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers included plans to add a million children to the charter rolls, but also included plans to shut down failing charter operators. At what point does a charter throw in the towel?

Marra says Ball State can authorize a charter school for five years, but any time within that period, the authorizers can cancel the contract with the charter organization.

With 24 out of 39 of Ball's authorized charters dropping their grades or failing in communities ranging from Gary to Fort Wayne, to Carmel, Marra says the schools will have to submit a plan of action for improvement before the end of the year.

Also at risk is Ball State's status as an authorizer, something Marra says he isn't worried about yet, because he thinks the corrective action and new accountability measures will boost failing schools that Ball authorized.

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