Indiana growth scores for schools yield surprising results

Which Indiana school districts are the most effective at improving student achievement? Let’s hear it for Eastern Greene School District, a rural, high-poverty district in southern Indiana? And Southwest Dubois School Corp., another small, rural district.

How about the best big school district? Brownsburg Community Schools takes the prize. Some typically high-achieving schools — Carmel, Zionsville and Hamilton Southeastern — are also among the elite. But so are districts that aren’t thought of as high fliers, such as Elkhart, New Albany and Lawrence Township in Indianapolis.

Here’s another surprise. A few charter schools do great at promoting growth, but the overall record for charters is pretty mediocre. The same is true for private schools.

This is according to school ratings on the Indiana Growth Model, a statistical tool that assesses students’ annual improvement in test scores compared to that of others with similar academic histories. The model assigns a growth percentile score to each student.

Indiana has compiled median growth scores for schools and districts for years, but it has never made a big deal out of them. Yet the growth model is arguably a much better measure of school effectiveness than A-to-F school grades Continue reading

More on Indiana school improvement grants, winners and losers, creativity

The Indiana Department of Education has awarded a second round of school improvement grants, and this time none of the more than $13 million is going to charter schools. Of course, two of the three charter schools that applied for the grants were funded in the first round. (Five of the 13 non-charters that applied have now been funded).

The DOE last week awarded $5.7 million to George Washington High School, $5.5 million to John Marshall High School and $2.5 million to Bendix School. Washington and Marshall are part of Indianapolis Public Schools; Bendix is an alternative school in the South Bend Community School Corp.

The grants, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, are designed to make dramatic improvement in the state’s lowest-performing schools. Washington and Marshall will implement a “turnaround” model of improvement, which includes replacing the principal and half the staff.

Real winners and losers

We wrote three weeks ago about the risk that “winners and losers” could result from Indiana’s growing reliance on local property-tax referenda to fund public schools. In Illinois, which relies heavily on local taxes to fund schools, according to federal data, there certainly are some winners. Continue reading