Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

On Count Day, IPS Losses Might Not Be As Dramatic As Once Feared

    Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

    How many students do you count in this photo? (About 150 students who attended an IPS takeover school have enrolled this year at Washington High School, where this photo was taken.)

    Spencer Lloyd, one of a handful of teachers left at Manual High School after control of the building transfered to turnaround operator Charter Schools USA, called it the $64 million question: How many students would show up for class this semester at four IPS takeover schools?

    We’re about to get an answer. The Indiana Department of Education uses enrollment figures from count day — Friday, Sept. 14 this year — to set state funding levels for public schools.

    Officials from Charter Schools USA and EdPower, the Indianapolis-based non-profit now in charge of Arlington High School, confirmed with StateImpact that fewer students were enrolled this year than last year earlier this week.

    Sherry Hage, vice president of education for Charter Schools USA, says enrollment has stabilized at the three schools her company is managing.
    • About 650 students are enrolled at T.C. Howe, down from 1028 last year.
    • Manual’s enrollment is around 500, down from 720 last year.
    • Enrollment at Donnan is 365, down from 835 last year.

    Enrollment at Arlington is hovering around 600, says Bev Rella, director of external relations for EdPower. Compare that with 1224 students last year.

    We’ve been reporting for about a month that attendance is down at the four schools. Most of the “missing students” have migrated to other IPS schools. The Indianapolis Star‘s Scott Elliott reports that IPS, once worried it would lose some 3,800 students to takeover, may only be down about 500 students.

    That leaves the turnaround operators with a student population that has self-selected to attend the takeover schools.

    “Our students wanted to be and actively made the choice to be in our schools — and continue to make that choice,” Hage told StateImpact.

    But the impact that will have on the turnaround effort remains to be seen. In his Get On The Bus blog, Elliott makes an astute point: With new students, teachers and administrators, these four schools are completely changed from last year. He asks:

    That being the case, is it fair to judge these schools as “takeovers?”

    Takeover could be seen as implying that the schools are doing something different with in essence the same school and, for the most part anyway, the same kids. But that’s just not what’s happening.

    It’s a shame because the mission the takeover organizations signed up for was quite intriguing. Could they take the same big urban high schools (or in one case, middle school) and get much better performance by doing things differently with the same school?


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