Few schools in Lawrence County improved their accountability grades during the past year, and several schools recorded lower letter grades when "report cards" were finalized by the Indiana State Board of Education Tuesday. The 2015-16 school year was the first since the change that's supposed to be more student-centered.
The number of IN schools that received failing marks roughly doubled to 130 this year, while the number receiving A grades fell by half under new ratings, according to an Associated Press report. Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz thanked teachers, students and their families for "countless hours of work" during the school year. Schools earning the highest ratings fell to 24 percent, a decline of more than 600 schools. That was down sharply from the prior year, when nearly 56 percent of IN schools received A grades.
An F is an "unfair and unjust" letter grade for the school, which had a 100 percent graduation rate in the spring, Hicks said.
Hundreds more schools could have been rated F this year following the loss of the hold-harmless provision. Because it hasn't been in existence for five years, they said, it is ineligible to receive credit for 75 percent of the criteria used to grade schools.
Those receiving a C: Otter Creek Middle School, Deming Elementary, Davis Park Elementary, DeVaney Elementary, Franklin Elementary, Fuqua Elementary, Hoosier Prairie, Ouabache and West Vigo elementaries. Though his schools actually fared well on the ISTEP+, South Madison School Corp.
The Kokomo School Corporation released a press release Tuesday calling the grades "highly suspect" following what they called a "faulty" ISTEP test.
For the first time, the 2016 grades reflect a new strategy to rate schools.
Ritz's successor, Republican Jennifer McCormick, has said she supports giving schools another reprieve on penalties from low ISTEP+ scores. "We were using a program that was more rote memorization". "While the grade is important, it's really important for us to validate whether we need to provide additional support". The letter grades released this year are a reflection of that "harmless year", according to Phil Storm, who serves as assistant superintendent for Mitchell Community Schools. The district had earned four As, two Bs and three Cs the previous year.
Kokomo Superintendent Jeff Hauswald encourages parents to reach out to their child's teachers or other school personnel with questions related to the A-F grades, according to the release. Mishawaka Superintendent Dean Speicher has called the ISTEP "broken by almost all accounts", Stevens said. "We'll make the best of it and we're ready to move forward".
"We haven't gotten any indication that there is plans for intervention" from the Indiana State Board of Education, Ferebee said. Failing schools increased by 3.5 percentage points. "For those reasons, the 2015-16 school year establishes a new baseline for school accountability grades in Indiana". He told The Tribune in November that school officials "have serious concerns regarding the validity of the ISTEP test in measuring our students' progress".