Crothersville High School and Elementary School received the state’s top grades –an A–when school performance status was announced last week.
Grades are a part of school life and it was supposed to be a simple way for parents to understand how well their local school and their district are performing: A-B-C-D- & F
But state Superintendent Tony Bennett’s decision to use letter grades to communicate that resulted in many school districts last week into something similar nervous kids trying to convince their parents they didn’t really deserve that C.
Here is Jackson County Schools received the gamut from an A to an F
The problem? The state’s grades are based on test scores, but with one important caveat. Any school that did not meet the Adequate Yearly Progress benchmark in the federal No Child Left Behind Act for a second straight year was ineligible, under current state law, to receive a grade higher than C.
More complicated were the explanations districts used to explain why schools missed the federal benchmark.
School officials blame the lower grades on a small group of students — special-ed kids, poor kids, non-English speakers — who for one reason or another either performed poorly or even failed to take a test, costing the school precious points for participation.
The fact that State School Superintendent Tony Bennett said Indiana schools recorded their most successful year ever under the state’s accountability metrics outlined within Public Law 221 was little salve to those schools who had high scores but still were assigened a C-D-or F.
A record number of schools, 775 in total, received an “A” or “Exemplary” ranking based on student performance and improvement data from the state’s ISTEP+ test and End of Course Assessments.
Overall, more than 50 percent of Indiana’s schools reside in the two highest school ranking categories: 42 percent earned the highest ranking available, “A” or “Exemplary,” and another 9 percent were designated as “B” or “Commendable” schools.
In 2011, Indiana’s schools received letter grades for the first time in state history. These grades were accompanied by the traditional rankings schools have received since PL 221’s implementation in 1999. The five letter grades assigned to schools align with the five placement categories traditionally given to schools. The switch to letter grades aims to increase transparency and engagement in school communities.
“Parents, educators and students deserve an accountability system that is clear and transparent,” Bennett, a former basketball coach at Scottsburg said. “Communities should have the opportunity to celebrate their ‘A’ schools and reward their educators for driving academic growth. Our best schools are a source of pride that I hope will inspire efforts across the state.”
Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) scores were also released for schools statewide. Overall, 51 percent of schools made AYP in 2011. AYP is the federal measure for academic progress outlined in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and it has been included in PL 221 since the law went into effect. Schools not making AYP for two years consecutive years can receive no higher than a “C” or “Academic Progress” ranking, even where a school has raised scores enough to earn a higher rating by state measures.
The SBOE has indicated it will likely remove the AYP cap from future accountability metrics.
To see how other area schools did on school accountability grading system, click the link below:
How Area Schools Fared