Indy’s Catholic-to-charter school experiment comes to an end

Any other week, the announcement that the Padua Academy and Andrew Academy charter schools in Indianapolis were giving up their charters would have been big education news. Last week, not so much. The story got buried under reports of alleged ISTEP+ cheating at Flanner House Elementary charter school.

It was certainly a big deal when Padua Academy and Andrew Academy opened as charter schools, however. Formerly Catholic schools, they converted to publicly funded charter schools in 2010, a time when Catholic schools were struggling financially.

Rather than close the schools, the Archdiocese of Indianapolis created an independent board, ADI Charter Schools Inc., which got a charter from the Indianapolis mayor’s office to operate the schools – in the same buildings and with many of the same students, but without religious education. “These two schools are the first in the nation to be chartered by an archdiocese through the establishment of an independent board,” the ADI Charter website says in a history of the schools.

They did well academically for a time but have struggled recently. In spring 2014, only 39.7 percent of Padua students and 31.7 percent of Andrew students passed both the math and English ISTEP+ exams. Continue reading