Pressure can sometimes serve as a positive motivator, Riley High School Principal Ed Bradford said.
" ... And that’s what happened in our high schools," he said today, as he happily hosted the news media, trekking reporters and photographers up and down the elevators of the south-side school.
Last school year, teachers and staff members at Riley, Washington High School and Rise Up Academy, all in South Bend, worked under the threat of state intervention.
This morning, they got the good news they’d been awaiting: Students at all three schools scored high enough on standardized tests to thwart state involvement.
Bradford said he e-mailed his staff with the news.
"Now I have to plan some level of celebration," he said.
But the reveling will be a short diversion because there is still much work to be done.
At Riley last school year, Bradford said, the motto was "Success without excuses."
This school year, it’ll be "Success without excuses, plus five."
Over the next three years, Bradford said, the school’s goal is to improve test scores by another 5 percent.
Ronald Metcalfe, an algebra 1 teacher at Riley, said the staff has always worked extremely hard.
But the additional resources, such as more time with students that’s built in as part of the 8-Step Process, has really made the difference in terms of what they’ve been able to accomplish.
Catherine Pittman’s daughter, Melinda Pittman, will be a sophomore at Riley this school year.
As a parent, Catherine Pittman said, she was happy that the state will not be intervening.
"I don’t have a lot of confidence in the state being able to run a local school," she said.
Pittman is a psychologist and thinks it’s unfair for a school to be measured strictly on the basis of test scores.
"We have a very diverse group of students," she said. "Every student isn’t capable of the same outcome."
Though each should certainly be able to read, and be prepared to be contributing members of society, Pittman said, people are great at different things, some academic, some not.
"Does everyone need algebra? No," she said. "There are a lot (of positive things) going on in schools besides algebra and English literature," she said, such as excellent sports programs, which teach students the important life skills related to teamwork.
Dale Chu, assistant superintendent for innovation and improvement with the Indiana Department of Education, said the state hopes the positive energy and momentum for the schools here will continue.