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Broadway Imagine cites higher test scores

School hoping to retain charter

Imagine Schools on Broadway Principal Ra’Chelle Spearman said the school is more motivated than ever to finish out this year strong.

The school plans to appeal a recent decision by Ball State University not to renew its charter, specifically by asking that the university take into account the school’s standardized test scores from this year, Spearman said during a parent meeting Monday evening. About 60 parents, students, teachers and staff attended the meeting.

Imagine on Broadway, one of three local schools whose charters will expire on June 30 under Ball State, is in its fifth year of a five-year charter. School officials and the board believe that Ball State might reconsider its decision after seeing the growth in this year’s scores.

Spearman said the school has implemented a number of changes this year to help get its students proficient on standardized tests.

Ball State officials have cited test scores, insufficient improvement and low grades on the state’s A-F grade accountability system as reasons why the university decided not to renew the charters of the three Fort Wayne charter schools.

About 37 percent of students at Imagine Schools on Broadway passed both English/language arts and math portions of the ISTEP+ standardized test last year. But Spearman said that’s an increase from the 23 percent passage rate the school achieved when it opened its doors in 2008.

“We definitely want higher scores, and we’re on our way to that,” Spearman said.

Spearman and the school’s board have said the school was surprised Ball State didn’t consider the implemented changes and the growth the school believes it will see this year based on current standardized test scores.

“Had (Ball State) said the decision would be purely based on numbers, we wouldn’t have been surprised,” she said.

During the school’s rally, parents shared stories of experiences with the school and how teachers have touched their lives and the lives of their children.

Kathryn Skordos, the parent of a fourth-grade student, struggled through an emotional reading of a letter she sent to Ball State officials about the success her daughter has experienced while at the school.

In her letter, she encouraged officials to look at “the whole picture” not just test scores. Skordos said she came to the meeting to rally other parents to get involved in the effort to save the school.

“It’s not just about state test scores or grades. It’s about how these kids have come so far and achieved so much,” she said.

Before the start of the meeting, Jennifer Armstrong said she was devastated when she heard the news of Ball State’s decision. She has two children attending Imagine on Broadway and one child at Imagine MASTer Academy, another Fort Wayne charter school whose charter will not be renewed by Ball State. She’s particularly concerned about her son who is part of Imagine on Broadway’s special education program. She said he’s done well at the school.

“I just don’t want to put him in a situation where he won’t progress,” she said. “I just wanted to come here to show my support to keep the school going,” Armstrong said.

The school’s board voted over the weekend to move forward with appealing Ball State’s decision. A hearing will be scheduled sometime before June 30.

Spearman said she looks forward to making the case that the school should stay open and to continue the school’s commitment to educating students.

In the meantime, she told parents it’s likely the school and its board will look into other options, like seeking an alternative authorizer for the charter school. She also assured parents that in the event the school does close, teachers and staff will help families in transitioning to other schools.

sarah.janssen@jg.net

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