Three South Bend schools avert possible state takeover

Three South Bend high schools no longer face the threat of a state takeover.

“Our three high schools, Washington, Riley and Rise Up Academy are off (academic) probation after five continuous years of being on probation, it’s terrific news and we’re happy to get it,” said South Bend School Board President Roger Parent.

The latest student test scores were good enough to get all three institutions off of academic probation.

At Riley High School, everyone knew for a long time that this day was coming—and that front page news would be made.

“We started this school year with a motto,” said Riley Principal Edward Bradford. “Success without excuses, we’re not going to accept any excuses in regard to our performance.”

Today, Bradford did not have to make excuses. A gain in student test scores means that Riley won’t be one of the first schools in the state—to be taken over by the state.

“I know this has to be a heavy weight lifted from this community,” said Bradford.

“I saw no advantage in the actual takeover because it’s bad news all the way around,” said Parent. “When people look to locate here, they’ll take a look at this and say ‘oh my god, it’s even worse than what we thought.’”

Instead, there’s a perception that perhaps things weren’t as bad as they seemed.

“What it means is that when we apply ourselves, when we focus on the classroom, that we can do the job,” said Parent. “It speaks to the business of being under some pressure, which we should have been under quite some time ago.”

Indiana State School Superintendent Dr. Tony Bennett applauded the work of the three South Bend Schools in proclaiming that, “Accountability works, accountability works, when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change, we have seen that people will ultimately change.”

South Bends Interim School Superintendent Dr. Carole Schmidt says that the district’s work to raise test scores will not end—with the end of academic probation. “It’s not a matter of oh my goodness, now we’re off probation, and we can just do the same old same old.”

Schmidt added, “The one thing that you can be confident of, is that we are continuing to move forward and this is just our first step in demonstrating that all of our students can learn at high levels.”

The day started with a total of 18 Indiana schools facing the threat of state intervention.

11 of those schools posted test scores that were high enough to thwart that threat.

Seven schools were determined to be eligible for state intervention. Six are in Indianapolis and one is in Gary.

State law requires districts to post at least a three percent improvement in student test scores to rise out of probation.

Numbers provided by Indiana’s Department of Education show that the improvement at Riley was 6.8 percent, at Washington it was 4.7% and at Rise Up Academy it was 6.3%.

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