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Most Ball State Charter Schools Have Dropping Grades

Students who attend The Project School in Indianapolis hold signs with the school's slogan, 'Heart Mind Voice.' The mayor of Indianapolis held this charter, which was revoked earlier this year for poor performance. Ball State holds the charter for its sister school in Bloomington.

Indiana’s largest charter school operator, Ball State University, has the worst track record according to the state’s A-F grading system.

The latest data from the Indiana Department of Education shows more than 60 percent of Ball State University’s charters either dropping a grade or more, or maintaining a failing grade.

Bob Marra with Ball State’s charter program says there are problems, but he says the university is working with the National Association of Charter Schools Authorizers to adopt stricter accountability measures.

“We’ve been part of what‘s called the performance management replication grant with them, and NACSA’s been deeply helping us implement their principles and standards for quality charter school authorizing,” Marra says.

A recent announcement by the NACSA included plans to add a million children to the charter rolls, but also included plans to shut down failing charter operators.

Marra adds that Ball State can authorize a charter school for five years, but any time within that period, the authorizers can cancel the contract with the charter organization.

With 24 out of 39 of Ball‘s authorized charters dropping their grades or failing in communities ranging from Gary to Fort Wayne, to Carmel, Marra says the schools will have to submit a plan of action for improvement before the end of the year.

Also at risk is Ball State‘s status as an authorizer, something Marra says he is not worried about yet, because he thinks the corrective action and new accountability measures will boost failing schools that Ball authorized.

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