Seven schools will be getting a closer look, and possible intervention, after Indianapolis Public Schools administration identified them as some of the lowest-performing schools in the district.
Superintendent Lewis Ferebee’s administration announced this week the schools that were chosen for school quality reviews based on performance on the state ISTEP exam. This is the second year the district has initiated its own assessment of struggling schools, which will include district visits to the schools, and interviews with leaders, staff, and families.
The reviews are designed to help schools improve, district officials said. But campuses could also face the possibility of being restarted as innovation schools. If that happens, they would likely be taken over by outside charter or nonprofit operators, who would overhaul the schools with largely new staff. Schools can also be selected for restart based on repeated failing grades from the state.
One of the seven schools identified by the district last year was ultimately restarted as an innovation school. The other schools received different kinds of help such as working with schools to help teachers collaborate better, officials said.
“This is a clear example of our commitment to helping drive improvement at these schools where we see there’s a lack of improvement,” Ferebee said.
One sign that less drastic efforts helped is that only one campus, School 48, appeared on the list for the second year in a row.
“As a matter of fact, a few of the schools from last year had some of the highest growth that we saw in the district,” said Andrew Strope, the district’s performance and continuous improvement officer.
One wrinkle for the district is that three of the seven schools identified are already innovation schools. That raised concerns for board member Venita Moore.
“I was surprised to see these … innovation schools on the list,” Moore said. “But I think it does provide our community insight that we take seriously the quality of the education that our children are receiving.”
When innovation schools are created, the operators have contracts with Indianapolis Public Schools. Those agreements typically stipulate that the contracts can be ended if the schools receive D or F grades from the state for three or more consecutive years.
Ferebee cautioned, however, that restarting them again would create more upheaval. “Often times that creates instability that is not always helpful,” he said. “The goal, I just want to continue to reiterate, is to ensure we can help these schools improve their performance.”
These are the seven schools identified as having test scores in the bottom quarter and growth scores in the bottom half for the district.
- Stephen Foster School 67
- Eleanor Skillen School 34
- Thomas Gregg Neighborhood School 15
- Ignite Achievement Academy at Elder Diggs 42
- Kindezi Academy at Joyce Kilmer 69
- James Russell Lowell School 51
- Louis B. Russell Jr. School 48