(STATEHOUSE) - State school superintendent Tony Bennett is hinting at unprecedented state intervention in schools, following a report that half of them fell short of federal performance standards.
The No Child Left Behind law lets states replace administrators, overhaul the curriculum, or take over schools which miss their targets four years in a row. 168 schools fall into that category. Bennett says he may dig into that toolbox for the first time. The law requires progress in every economic and ethnic subgroup of students.
About a fifth of the 900 schools classified as failing this year flunked because of a single subgroup. Bennett says it's important to distinguish between those and the 26 schools which flunked more categories than they passed.
Among Marion County's 11 school systems, only Franklin Township, Beech Grove and Speedway received passing grades.
Every Marion County high school, including the ones in those three districts, fell short.
The state's highest failure rates have been in schools with large numbers of low-income students, but every Marion County district except Lawrence Township hit its targets for math scores among students in the free-lunch program. It's reading scores that dragged most of the failing districts down.
The lone exception was the Pike Township schools, which met its goals among free-lunch students but fell short in one of the four ethnic subgroups the law requires. African-American students failed to show adequate progress on reading scores in Pike and four other Marion County systems.
The flip side of that equation is the Washington Township school district, the only Marion County system to post passing grades in all four ethnic subgroups yet still be classified as failing.
Free-lunch students were the system's only missed target.
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