Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

How Is Federal Education Money Distributed In Indiana?

This is Lew Wallace Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Academy in Gary. This school is one of the recipients of Title 1 turnaround money. Earlier this year, Lew Wallace was in danger of making the state's failing school list.

The Indiana Department of Education is giving about $8.5 million in federal Title 1 funding to the following Indiana schools.

  • Bailly Preparatory Academy in Gary ($1.6 million)
  • Lew Wallace Sci. Tech. Eng. and Math. Academy in Gary ($1.5 million)
  • Evans School in Evansville ($1.9 million)
  • H.L. Harshman Medical Magnet Middle School in Indianapolis ($1.9 million)
  • Joyce Kilmer Elementary School in Indianapolis (School 69) ($1.6 million)

At least one of the schools is a bit of a mystery. There is almost no data available on Bailly Preparatory Academy’s past performance.  We were able to track down I-STEP+ data for the 2009-2010 school year. Frankly, Bailly was a pretty poor performer.  Twenty-eight-percent of third graders attending the school passed both the math and English language arts portions of Indiana’s standardized test. That’s compared to a state average of 66-percent.  Mysteriously, Bailly Preparatory Academy’s sudden appearance one year ago coincides with the disappearance of the even more abysmal Bailly Middle School.  Both schools are or were part of the generally abysmal Gary Community School Corporation.

We focus on Bailly because it raises a common complaint leveled against the Indiana Department of Education: lack of transparency when it comes to awarding monies and assessing penalties.

To cite a better example, we spent several weeks earlier this year trying to figure out an IDOE incentive program that rewarded money to high schools that showed the greatest improvement on their graduation rates.  We’re still confused.

Here is the list published by the IDOE.

Schools receiving $20,000 each

  • Fall Creek Academy
  • Argos Community Jr-Sr High School, Argos Community Schools
  • Charles A. Tindley Accelerated School, Indianapolis
  • Austin High School, Scott County School District 1
  • Kankakee Valley High School, Kankakee Valley School Corp.
  • Caston Jr-Sr High School, Caston School Corp.
  • Rochester Community High School, Rochester Community School Corp.
  • Shakamak Jr-Sr High Sch, M.S.D. Shakamak Schools
  • Mississinewa High School, Mississinewa Community School Corp.
  • Seeger Memorial Jr-Sr High School, M.S.D. Warren County

Out of curiosity, we asked for the data used to compile this list.  The IDOE’s own spreadsheet produced this result.

  • Fall Creek Academy
  • Lew Wallace Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics Academy- Gary Community School Corporation
  • Donald E Gavit Middle School High School- City of Hammond
  • Argo Community Junior Senior High School- Argo Community Schools
  • Fountain Square Academy
  • Charles A Tindley Accelerated School
  • George Washington Community School Corporation- Indianapolis Public Schools
  • Theodore Roosevelt Car & Tech Academy- Gary Community School Corporation
  • Kankakee High School- Kankakee Valley School Corporation
  • Edinburgh High School- Edinburgh Community School Corporation

An extensive series of emails between StateImpact and an IDOE spokesperson failed to produce any reason for the discrepancy.

We’ve encountered a number of occasions where confusing assessment models have caused frustration for school officials.  For example, we spoke with one of the principals at an Indianapolis high school targeted for potential takeover by the state.   She handed us two reports, one conducted by a contractor hired by the IDOE and another conducted by IDOE employees.  Both seem to indicate that her school was making exceptional improvement and was expected to continue to make exceptional improvement. Yet a few months later, the IDOE declared this school a failure.

The IDOE is expected to announce later this month which schools on the failure list will actually be taken over by the state. As it now stands, at least a certain percentage of these schools will likely be converted into charter schools.

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