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Grades subpar for charters, takeover schools

Officials celebrated when renamed Roosevelt College   Career Academy reopened last year under state control but change management did

Officials celebrated when the renamed Roosevelt College & Career Academy reopened last year under state control, but the change in management did not improve academic performance, according to state grades released last week. | Post-Tribune File Photo

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takeover grades

Roosevelt College and Career Academy — F

(Roosevelt was taken under state control last year)

Charter schools

Aspire Charter Academy — D

Charter School of the Dunes — F

Gary Lighthouse Charter School — F

West Gary Lighthouse Charter — F

21st Century Charter School — D

Thea Bowman Leadership Academy — D

East Chicago Urban Enterprise Academy — C

East Chicago Lighthouse — F

Hammond Academy of Science, Technology — D

Discovery Charter School — A

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Updated: December 23, 2013 9:32PM

Five high schools taken over by the state, including one in Gary, failed to improve “A-F” scores released last week by the Indiana Department of Education.

The Roosevelt College and Career Academy, operated by EdisonLearning Inc., received a grade of “F,” just like the school did for six straight years under the Gary Community School Corp.

Out of 10 charter schools in Lake and Porter counties, there were four Fs, four Ds, one C and one A.

Discovery Charter School in Porter received the A.

“We’re not surprised by the grade... We knew we had significant work to do,” said EdisonLearning’s Vanessa Ronketto, who serves as Roosevelt’s superintendent. The state named EdisonLearning, a private for-profit company, to take over Roosevelt last year after six straight years of poor academic performance.

She said only 23 of 160 seniors were on track to graduate when it took over the school last year. In addition, she said just 5 percent of the students could read at their grade level.

“We did have gains in English and math and that’s what we’re focusing on. It’s a challenge,” she said.

Charter School of the Dunes, in Gary’s Miller section, received an F for the second straight year. Ball State University revoked the school’s charter last year because of sagging academics, but Calumet College of St. Joseph in Hammond opted to sponsor the school, which was in the middle of building a new $13 million facility.

The 21st Century Charter School in Gary saw its grade drop from an A in 2012 to a D this year. Thea Bowman Leadership Academy received a D, down from a C.

Kevin Teasley, founder and president of the GEO Foundation, which operates the 21st Century Charter School, challenged the grade, saying the state did not credit the school for its 95 percent graduation rate or that 42 percent of students earned a C or better on a college course.

Teasley said the school’s overall grade should have been a C. He said the school appealed and has not received an explanation for the grade.

The state began issuing letter grades under former school chief Tony Bennett, who changed the grading formula in 2012.

The new high school formula is a confusing one, designed to take into account “college and career readiness,” a new education buzzword that adds more credit for career-centric curriculum grades. In addition to state math and English test scores, the formula includes graduation rates.

Grades for all schools were measured by a four-point Bennett growth model that’s now facing criticism and is being changed in the wake of controversy and complaints. Bennett himself lost his job as Florida’s education chief after stories broke that he changed the C grade to an A at an Indianapolis charter called Christel House.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz and her staunchest critics have criticized that growth model. The General Assembly tossed it out, ordering the State Board of Education to develop a new one.

Ritz has promised a more transparent version next year that she says should eliminate dramatic grade shifts because it’s based on a 100-point scale.

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