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Verbatim: Indiana school grades released, explained

Statement as issued Wednesday by the Indiana Department of Education:

More than 61 percent of Indiana's schools received A or B letter grades for the 2011-2012 school year, Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Tony Bennett announced at today's State Board of Education Meeting. In total, 40.9 percent of schools earned As, 20.1 percent of schools earned Bs, and 20.3 percent of schools earned Cs. Only 18.6 percent of schools earned D or F grades, similar to last year's percentage and lower than in the 2009-2010 school year. This year, 207 schools received As for the first time.

"These fair and comprehensive measures of school performance demonstrate that school leaders and teachers are focusing on the skills our students need to succeed in their academic and professional careers," Bennett said. "The results of our new approach to grading schools are already making a measurable difference in student performance, and Indiana's educators should be celebrated for their hard work and success."

In addition, 28 schools receiving Fs for the 2010-2011 school year earned Cs or higher this year; eight of those schools each moved from an F to an A. Overall, 43 schools moved up at least three letter grades. Since 2009, the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) has increased support for struggling schools, dedicating almost $128 million to low performing schools to help them implement dramatic and comprehensive improvement plans.

This year, new metrics making use of the latest advances in measuring student academic performance were used to calculate school grades. At the elementary and middle school level, the Indiana Growth Model factored heavily in to the scores of many schools demonstrating progress toward closing the achievement gap or strong overall academic growth. At the high school level, college and career readiness indicators, such as Advanced Placement success and industry certifications, factored in to the grades.

The U.S. Department of Education granted Indiana a waiver for increased flexibility from certain provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind Act based on the quality of IDOE's application, which included these new accountability metrics. This waiver allowed Indiana to remove the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) cap that kept many successful schools at the C level year after year.

Highlighting Excellence

The new category placements provide several relevant examples of local success that should guide school leaders looking to focus on the skills and instructional priorities that drive academic results. Of particular interest is the large number of high poverty schools making significant gains this year over 2011. Overall, 84 percent of schools improving at least three letter grades met federal free and reduced lunch Title 1 requirements. Many of these schools earned bonus points for driving student growth—a measure not considered in Indiana's previous school accountability metrics.

Dickinson Fine Arts Academy in South Bend Community School Corporation and CSA Fodrea Campus in Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation each moved from an F grade to an A grade in just one year. Each school was honored for significant achievement gains during the IDOE's annual ISTEP+ ceremony this summer and received several high growth bonuses under the new metrics. Dickinson spent four consecutive years in the lowest category of school performance before today's announcement.

"The new letter grades bring this summer's recognition full circle," Dickinson Principal Thomas Sims said. "Our school leaders and teachers took a 'no excuses' approach to school improvement and never blinked as we implemented dramatic and student-centered changes to create a results oriented learning atmosphere."

Broad Ripple Magnet High School for the Performing Arts in Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) was lauded for moving from an F to a B. Just one year ago, the State Board of Education (SBOE) intervened in the school after it was an F school for six consecutive years. After carefully considering the school's most pressing needs, the SBOE chose Scholastic Corporation as a Lead Partner (LP) to assist Broad Ripple in areas such as personnel, operations, discipline and instruction. Broad Ripple High's school leaders and teachers worked proactively with the LP to implement a significant and successful improvement plan. This successful partnership has driven strong gains in several key college and career readiness indicators.

"The dedication of our educators at Broad Ripple High School as they work diligently with the Scholastic Corporation, the lead partner assigned by IDOE, was the major driver of the success," IPS Superintendent Dr. Eugene White said. "Authentic support from our community partners and alumni groups assists teachers and students on the path to improvement. Our students certainly are the beneficiaries of this powerful partnership between IPS and IDOE. "

About Indiana's A through F Accountability Model

Beginning with the 2010-2011 school year, the SBOE changed labels for school categories based on student performance from the terms Exemplary Progress, Commendable Progress, Academic Progress, Academic Watch and Academic Probation to easy-to-understand letter grades (A, B, C, D and F). The A through F labels have improved transparency by allowing parents and community members to better recognize how Indiana schools are performing.

Following the move to A through F letter grades, the SBOE also adopted a new methodology for determining grades for schools and school corporations. This new methodology holds schools and school corporations to higher standards and provides a more accurate picture of their performance by incorporating student academic growth and graduation rates as well as college and career readiness indicators.

Letter grades for high schools are calculated based on performance (Algebra 1 and English 10 End of Course Assessments), student improvement, graduation rate, and college and career readiness indicators (such as Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and industry certification exams or earning college credits). Letter grades for elementary and middle schools are based upon English/Language Arts and Math ISTEP+ performance, participation and improvement as well as student growth.

View letter grades for individual schools, a statewide breakdown of this year's grades and helpful resources on A through F school accountability HERE.

The Indiana Growth Model tracks the progress of students from year to year and recognizes dramatic gains in proficiency regardless of whether students "pass" or "fail" a test. For more information on the Growth Model, click HERE.

Related

  • jgdata.net lists rankings given to northeast Indiana schools under the state's accountability law, Public Law 221. To check out your school, click here.

Send items for The Scoop to jgnews@jg.net.

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