December 1, 2015

IPS, State Education Dept. In Dispute Over Arlington's Accountability Grade

Rachael Havey, the Indiana Department of Education’s intervention school coordinator, talks to the State Board of Education about Arlington High School on Nov. 4, 2015. - YouTube

Rachael Havey, the Indiana Department of Education’s intervention school coordinator, talks to the State Board of Education about Arlington High School on Nov. 4, 2015.


Note: This article was initally removed due to conflicting information provided by the Indiana Department of Education. The article has been updated.

This is part of the series A New Day about Arlington Community High School. 


Confusion and frustrations over the transition of Indiana’s first school in state intervention back to its home district continues to play out behind the scenes.

One issue is whether Arlington Community High School’s 2014-15 A-F accountability grade will be assigned to Indianapolis Public Schools or charter operator Tindley Accelerated Schools.

Arlington was taken over by the state in 2012 after six consecutive years of F grades under Indiana's A to F grading system. Tindley was then contracted by the state to manage Arlington. But a dispute over funding in 2014 lead Tindley to break its contact and allow the Northeastside school to return to IPS. Arlington remains under purview of the state board.

Under Tindley, Arlington earned two more Fs.

Arlington’s current IPS staff have fretted since taking control of the school in July that a third F could be be hung on the district, instead of Tindley, and lead to public misconception about changes at the school.

District leaders agree. During an October board meeting IPS Superintendent Lewis Ferebee said the district’s lobbyist was on the case to help resolve that soon-to-be released grade would credited to Tindley.

"Ultimately, we want to ensure that any accountability results we have are truly reflective of the work of our staff and students." Ferebee said in a statement Nov. 10.

But Samantha Hart, education department spokeswoman, said the issue has been discussed with Ferebee, IPS staff and Indiana State Board of Education staff -- and the department has made up its mind.

“Accountability data follows the school, so while Arlington was under Tindley’s management during the 2014-15 year, the data will fall under IPS as they are currently under IPS’s management,” she said.

Hart said IPS could have applied to reset the baseline accountability for the school but the district did not to respond to IDOE letter that set a Sept. 4 deadline to do so.

But in a Dec. 1 email, Hart took back her comments to WFYI.

“The 2014-15 Arlington grade will fall under Tindley,” she wrote in an email. “The question is what happens with the data from 2014-15 that informs the 2015-16 grade which will fall under IPS (i.e. grad rate).”

Yet that same day, IPS officials said they were unaware any decision was made regarding the assignment of the 2014-15 accountability grade.

When asked why IPS seemed to remain in the dark on the issue, IDOE press secretary Daniel Altman said: “They haven’t asked us.”

The A to F accountability grades are calculated by the department using a school’s test scores, graduation rates and other factors. The State Board of Education ultimately assigns the accountability grades to each school.

The board can assign Arlington’s 2014-15 grade to Tindley's unique LEA, or local education agency, for Arlington even though it is no longer in use, said board spokesman Marc Lotter.

The board Staff's recommendation is that the grade be assigned to Tindley, Lotter said.

Charter school networks, such as Tindley, do not receive an overall A-F accountability grade like traditional school districts. But if IPS receives Arlington’s grade from last year it will be calculated in the district average. Currently, IPS has a D grade.

Next year, Arlington will receive an accountability grade for grades 7 and 8, now considered a separate school in the building, and the traditional high school grades of 9-12.

UPDATE: On Jan. 26 the Indiana Department of Education released the 2014-15 A-F grades with Arlington High School earning an F for Indianapolis Public Schools. The state later corrected the data so Tindley Accelerated Schools received the F.

Contact WFYI education reporter Eric Weddle at or call (317) 614-0470. Follow on Twitter: @ericweddle.

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