If you’re looking for a school in Indianapolis, there are numerous highly-rated schools in the area. The Indianapolis Public School District has 54 schools and over 22,000 students. However, some of the worst schools in Indianapolis have students who are struggling to keep up with their peers.
While many factors can contribute to the success of a school and its students, test scores can be one of the most important indicators of how students are performing academically. The list of the worst schools in Indianapolis is based on test scores, college readiness, and graduation rates.
Keep reading to find out more about the worst schools in Indianapolis and how they compare to other schools in the area.
James Whitcomb Riley School 43
150 W 40th St, Indianapolis, IN 46208
James Whitcomb Riley School is a public elementary school in the Indianapolis Public School District with 444 students. Part of their mission is provide a safe and caring learning environment for all students and promote each student's success based on their individual needs and talents. They believe that every child deserves access to quality education and aim to provide opportunities for growth throughout the year.
While the staff does their best in meeting the needs of each student, many are falling behind their peers in core subjects. Only 2.3% of students are proficient in math, 6.3% are proficient in English, and 4.2% are proficient in science.
Brook Park Elementary School
5259 N David St, Indianapolis, IN, 46226
Brook Park Elementary School in Indianapolis is a public school with 664 students. This school is committed to maintaining a safe and nurturing learning environment for all students. The staff also aims to help students discover their unique talents and abilities to reach their full potential. This public school, also known as Brook Park School of Environmental Studies, has an outdoor learning laboratory where students can gain a love and respect for nature on campus.
While Brook Park Elementary School has many unique features and amenities, students at this school are struggling to keep up with their peers. Only 6.3%% of students are proficient in English, 5.8% are proficient in math, and 4.5% are proficient in science. 58% of students are proficient in reading, but this still falls below the state average of 87%.
Ralph Waldo Emerson School 58
321 N. Linwood Ave. Indianapolis, IN 46201
Ralph Waldo Emerson School 58 is a public elementary school in Indianapolis with 307 students. The community of staff and teachers at this school work together to help all students reach their highest potential. They aim to accomplish this by providing students with relevant instruction and standards-based curriculum.
Even though one of their goals is to facilitate continuous academic growth, many students at Ralph Waldo Emerson School are behind in their core subjects. At this elementary school, 4.7% of students are proficient in English. Math is the strongest of the core subjects with 8.8% of students being proficient. On the other hand, science is the lowest subject and only 1.3% of students are proficient.
Eleanor Skillen School 34
1410 Wade Street, Indianapolis, IN, 46203
Eleanor Skillen School 34 is a public elementary school in Indianapolis with 369 students in grades PK-6. This elementary school has been a part of the Indianapolis Public School District for over 100 years. As of the 2024-2025 school year, Eleanor Skillen School 34 will be transitioning to a Montessori approach. They currently offer a student-focused learning environment while valuing the emotional and intellectual growth of students.
At Eleanor Skillen School, they aim to develop kind and compassionate leaders with excellent critical thinking skills. However, students are currently falling behind their peers in the core subjects. Less than 10% of students are proficient in English, math, and science. 43% of students are proficient in reading, which still falls drastically below the state average of 87%.
Arlington Community Middle School
4825 N Arlington Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46226
Arlington Community Middle School is a public school in Indianapolis with 418 students in grades 7 and 8. They’re committed to excellence and innovation within the school community and they aim to create an engaging learning environment for students. At Arlington Middle School, they also offer special education services so that every student has the opportunity to be successful.
Arlington Community Middle School has many students who are falling behind academically. When it comes to core subjects, only 10% of students are proficient in English and less than 1% of students are proficient in math. Only a small percentage of students at Arlington Community Middle School are participating in honors classes and less than 1% of the student population participates in Algebra 1.
Emmerich Manual High School
2405 Madison Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46225
Manual High School in Indianapolis is a public school serving 695 students in grades 9-12. At this school, they aim to educate the whole child. Part of their mission is to empower students through an equitable and rigorous education and curriculum. The staff supports students to help them realize their full potential and the core values of the school include responsibility, respect, integrity, and independence.
High school students at Manual High School are falling behind when it comes to academic progress, test scores, and college readiness. While high school is meant to prepare students for higher education or a future career, only 17% of students from this school are pursuing a college degree and 34% are pursuing college or a vocational program. Additionally, the graduation rate for Manual High School is 61%, falling below the state average of 87%.
Arsenal Technical High School
1500 E Michigan St, Indianapolis, IN 46202
Arsenal Technical High School is a public school with 2589 students in grades 9-12. This technical school sits on a 76–acre campus and offers five different career academies for students to choose from. They offer personalized academic programs to equip students for a future in numerous industries and higher-education programs.
Arsenal Technical High School is the largest school in the Indianapolis Public Schools District, but it made the list due to its low test scores and student academic progress. The graduation rate of this school is 67% and 34% of students participate in the SAT. However, only 18% of students plan on pursuing a college degree and 23% of students plan on pursuing college or a vocational program.
Ben Davis High School
1200 N Girls School Rd, Indianapolis, IN 46214
Ben Davis High School is a public high school with 3,236 students in grades 10-12. This three-year school is part of the Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township. At Ben Davis High School, they offer numerous academic paths, such as Career Technical Education as well as Engineering and Technology courses.
When it comes to test scores, academic progress, and college readiness, students at Ben Davis High School are falling behind their peers from other schools. While English is the strongest core subject at this school, the percentage of students displaying proficiency still falls below the state average. Additionally, only 14% of students are proficient in math and only 1% of students are proficient in Biology. Only a small amount of students are participating in AP courses to prepare for college with only 5% of students participating in AP math.
2186 N Sherman Dr, Indianapolis, IN 46218
Martin University is a private college in Indianapolis with about 231 students. This university focuses on student-centered learning and aims to provide students with an inclusive and supportive learning environment. Martin University was founded in 1977 with the goal of serving low-income adult learners. Even today, this university aims to make higher education accessible for all students.
Despite the valuable and noble mission of this school, it has the lowest graduation rate out of any college in Indianapolis. Out of the students enrolled, there’s only an 8.3% graduation rate. Additionally, the retention rate of this university is 20%. For students who do graduate from Martin University, the average salary 10 years after graduation is $25,500, which is significantly lower than the national average of $34,300.
Comparing the Worst Schools in Indianapolis
No matter what type of school you’re looking for, finding the right school for your child can be a challenge. Whether you’re looking for a public school or a university, factors like school grades, test scores, and graduation rates are something to consider.
While there are numerous excellent schools in the state of Indiana, some of the worst schools in Indianapolis have students who are falling drastically behind their peers. If you’re considering a school in the area, it’s important to consider a wide range of factors to determine the best fit for your child.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com.