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10/5/2017 7:32:00 AM
Struggling South Bend schools get 'F' grades again based on poor ISTEP scores
Madison Primary Center. Tribune file photo by Robert Franklin
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Madison Primary Center. Tribune file photo by Robert Franklin

Christian Sheckler, South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND — Last year, dozens of parents turned out to support South Bend's Madison Primary Center, now called Madison STEAM Academy, at a hearing before the Indiana State Board of Education.

For the fifth consecutive year, the state had handed down a failing grade, largely based on poor ISTEP test scores, but parents and staff said the F label was unfair and did not consider the real improvements that were already underway at the school.

Despite that optimism, however, the school received its sixth F grade in a row this year, setting Madison up for another hearing with the board and the potential for drastic action, including a forced merger, closure or state takeover.

Based on the state's letter grades, Madison is the worst-performing local school and is among several that failed to show enough student improvement in the 2016-2017 school year to climb from F marks handed down by the state, according to the latest round of data released Wednesday.

Madison last year transitioned to a science, technology, engineering, art and math, or STEAM, curriculum, and it received a $3 million state grant to help with the changes. Staff and parents have said Principal Deb Martin has helped bring order and a better behavioral climate to the school since she took over in 2013.

Adam Baker, a spokesman for the state Department of Education, said Wednesday a public hearing will be required for Madison, but it's too soon to set a date.

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