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It used to be that critics and educational reformers condemned urban school districts like the Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) for their high percentage of “low performing schools”. Charter schools, the reformers said, would do better. Now, thirteen years after charters began in Indianapolis, the percentage of “low performing” charters is roughly the same percentage of “low performing” IPS schools. A majority (55.2%) of Indianapolis/Marion County charter schools are low performing; similar to the 54.7% of IPS schools that are “low performing”. That’s among the shocking, surprising findings from the 2013-2014 State of Indiana A-F Accountability Grades released Wednesday by the Indiana Department of Education and approved by the Indiana State Board of Education. After the controversy the past few years about Indiana’s Accountability Grading system, this past school year, grades statewide and in Indianapolis/Marion County showed a sharp jump in the number of schools receiving the top grades of “A” and “B” and a decline in the number of schools receiving the lowest grades of “D” and “F”. Of the city/county’s eleven school corporations, 107 schools received “A” and “B” grades; up from 82 in 2013. At the other end of the scale, 55 schools received “D” and “F” grades, compared with 61 last school year. A year ago, of the eleven city/county districts, only Decatur and Beech Grove had no schools with an “A” grade. This year, every district has at least one school earning an “A”. Speedway schools were perfect as all six of the small westside district’s schools earned “A’s”. Franklin Township was next to perfect with eight of their nine schools garnering “A’s”. Perry, Washington and Wayne Townships had a majority of their schools earn the top letter grade. A year ago four districts, Decatur, Lawrence, Wayne and IPS had at least one school graded “F”. This year, just Wayne (1) and IPS (21). Of Indianapolis/Marion County’s 195 public schools included in the 2013-2014 Accountability system, 35.9% earned “A” grades; up from 22.7% last year. Some 19.0% were “B” schools (21.6% in 2013); “C” schools 16.9% (22.7% in 2013); “D” schools also 16.9% (17.8% in 2013) and “F” schools a low 11.3% (15.1% in 2013). Traditionally, IPS has had high percentage of low performing schools with “D” and “F” grades. Last year 58.5% of IPS schools were low performing. This year the figure dropped slightly to 54.7%. The number of high performing IPS schools, those earning “A’s” and “B’s” increased from 18 to 23 or 30.7% of all IPS schools. The number of IPS’ low performing schools also rose from 38 to 41, because several IPS schools were split to provide separate results for middle and high schools. But the shock and surprise in the 2014-2015 state Accountability Grades were the increasing numbers of low performing “D” and “F” charter schools in Indianapolis. Sixteen of Indianapolis’ twenty-nine charter schools, 55.2% were low performing “D” and “F” schools. Of the twenty-two schools supervised and chartered by Mayor Greg Ballard and the city’s Office of Educational Opportunity, nine , or 40.9% are low performing schools. Of the seven Indianapolis schools chartered by other authorizers (Ball State University, the Indiana Charter School Board, Trine University in Angola Indiana), one earned a “C”; three received “D’s” and three garnered “F’s”. Every Indiana accredited school – public, private and charter – is included in the A-F system. The City argues that our web story shouldn’t include specialized charters like Excel Center (dropout recovery) and Damar (special needs kids) in reporting this story. But the Indiana Deaf and Blind Schools are included in the A-F system; schools that have “F” grades. Until the state exempts schools like them, we’ll include them in our analysis. The growth in low performing charter schools in Indy is startling! In the 2011-2012 school year, only seven of the city’s then twenty-five charters were low performing. Two school years later, the number of low performing charters has jumped to sixteen; a 129% increase. The poorest performing charters include Fall Creek Academy, now run by Challenge Foundation; which has earned “F” grades for three years. Hoosier Virtual Academy, chartered by Ball State, graded “F” for 4 years. Two charters, Andrew and Padua Academies scheduled to close this June also earned “F’s”. Another surprise was Andrew Brown Academy. When it began twelve years ago, Andrew Brown was a high performing school; but its academic performance has slipped in recent years to a “B” in 2012; a “D” last year, now an “F”. A Mayor’s charter school, expect heightened scrutiny on Andrew Brown, its out of town operator National Heritage Academies and its local sponsor Indiana Black Expo as the once highly regarded school tries to turn itself around. Of the four former IPS schools that are now takeovers, there was progress at the former Emma Donnan Middle School which saw their accountability grade rise to a “D” from an “F”. The other takeover schools, Manual, Howe and Arlington all received F’s. Commenting on the A-F grades, current Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz said, “I want to thank Indiana’s educators, administrators, parents, and most importantly, students for their countless hours of work over the last academic year. This data shows significantly increased performance for our schools, particularly in schools that have been lower performing in prior years. I want to thank the Indiana Department of Education’s Outreach Division for their efforts in working with our Focus and Priority Schools.” The grade summaries for 2014 are shown, compared with 2013 and 2012 grades.

Decatur Township Schools: 2014 – A-1; B-1; C-4; D-3; F-0; 2013 – A-0; B-1; C-3; D-4; F-1; 2012 – A-0; B-0; C-2; D-6; F-1

Franklin Township Schools: 2014 – A-8; B-1; 2013 – A-7; B-2. 2012 – A8; B-1

Lawrence Township Schools: 2014 – A-6; B-5; C-4; D-1; F-0; 2013 – A-3; B-8; C-4; D-0; F-1; 2012 – A-4; B-5; C-2; D-3; F-1

Perry Township Schools: 2014 – A-10; B-5; C-2; D-0; F-0; 2013 – A-6; B-5; C-4; D-2; F-0. 2012 – A-5; B-2; C-7; D-2; F-1

Pike Township Schools: 2014 – A-3; B-6; C-2; D-2; F-0; 2013 – A-2; B-4; C-4; D-3; F-0. 2012 – A-2; B-1; C-5; D-3; F-2

Warren Township Schools: 2014 – A-5; B-2; C-4; D-6; F-0; 2013 – A-6; B-4; C-5; D-2; F-0. 2012 – A-4; B-3; C-7; D-3

Washington Township Schools: 2014 – A-6; B-2; C-3; D-0; F-0; 2013 – A-3; B-3; C-3; D-2; F-0. 2012 – A-2; B-1; C-4; D-2; F-2

Wayne Township Schools:2014 – A-10; B-2; C-3; D-1; F-1; 2013 – A-2; B-1; C-6; D-4; F-4; 2012 – A-2; B-3; C-4; D-5; F-2

Beech Grove Schools: 2014 – A-2; B-3; C-0; D-0; F-0; 2013 – A-0; B-3; C-2; D-0; F-0. 2012 – A-0; B-4; C-1; D-0; F-0

Speedway Schools: 2014 – A-6; BCDF-0; 2013 – A-3; B-1; C-3; D-0; F-0. 2012 – A-6; B-0; C-0; D-0; F-0

Indianapolis Public Schools: 2014 – A-13; B-10; C-11; D-20; F-21; 2013 – A-10; B-8; C-9; D-16; F-22. 2012 – A-10; B-7; C-7; D-14; F-26

Mayor Charter Schools: 2014 – A-5; B-5; C-2; D-4; F-5; 2013 – A-5; B-0; C-5; D-4; F-5. 2012 – A-6; B-4; C-5; D-1; F-2

All Charter Schools: 2014 – A-5; B-5; C-3; D-8; F-8; 2013 – A-5; B-0; C-6; D-7; F-7. 2012 – A-6; B-5; C-6; D-3; F-4