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The view from D.C.: Washington Post Ferebee profile emphasizes Indy’s growing test score gaps

Superintendent Lewis Ferebee reads to children on the first day of school in 2017.
Superintendent Lewis Ferebee reads to children on the first day of school in 2017.
Hafsa Razi/Chalkbeat

As Lewis Ferebee faces his first hearing to be confirmed as Washington, D.C., schools chief, people in the nation’s capital are turning to Indianapolis for clues about him. A Washington Post profile from this weekend offers a window into what they’re finding.

The story, by schools reporter Perry Stein, focuses on student achievement in Indianapolis Public Schools and emphasizes the fact that schools Ferebee’s administration ran directly have fared worse on tests than schools managed by third-party operators.

The first quote is from a frequent Ferebee critic:

“A lot of people act like this academic decline didn’t happen, but it bothers me,” said Jim Grim, director of community school partnerships at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. “People are focused on other shiny, bright objects.”

But the story also cites Ferebee’s local allies to make the same point, with a more optimistic spin:

Brandon Brown, chief executive of the Mind Trust, points to city data showing that, overall, test scores rose for students at innovation schools while declining at schools run by the traditional system.

“I would credit Dr. Ferebee’s vision and leadership for creating a multitude of partnerships that just weren’t there before he got there,” Brown said. “We are very confident that the early results for innovation schools are extremely promising.”

Read the whole story, which also features interviews with Indianapolis families and reporting from Ferebee’s previous positions in North Carolina. And stay tuned for more from us as Ferebee gears up for Wednesday, when he’ll appear before the D.C. Council for the first of three confirmation hearings.

The council, the Post reports, “has promised a rigorous confirmation process even as it is expected to approve [Mayor Muriel] Bowser’s choice.”

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