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FWCS drops from A to C in new ratings

More than half of all schools across the state earned top marks under the state Department of Education's revised accountability system based on student performance on standardized tests.

The system assigns A-F grades to schools and districts based on graduation rates and performance, participation and growth on standardized tests.

Both Northwest Allen County Schools and Southwest Allen County Schools received As overall. Fort Wayne Community Schools and East Allen County Schools received Cs.

Fewer than 20 percent of schools earned Ds or Fs under the new system, a percentage which is nearly unchanged from last year. Sixty percent of schools received As and Bs, up from 56 percent last year, according to a written statement from the DOE.

The more than 200 public and private schools in northeast Indiana fared similarly to schools around the state, with about 38 percent receiving a C or below.

Grades were approved this morning by the state Board of Education after delays due to the new measures pushed the release back from Oct. 10.

"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," said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett. "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."

The area's three charter schools scored in the lowest two categories under the revised system. Imagine Schools on Broadway and Imagine MASTer Academy both received F grades and Timothy L. Johnson earned a D.

The system is based almost entirely on student standardized test scores and was first implemented last year, replacing the previous system that used categories such as "academic progress" and "probation" to rate school and district performance. Rating schools is part of Public Law 221, a school accountability law that requires state takeover if schools are rated in the "probation" category or F grade for six consecutive years.

Additional metrics were added to the system this year like comparing students' growth to that of other students across the state as well as adding points for high schools whose students graduate with college credits or passing scores on exams to receive college credit or industry certification.

The letter grades are assigned to traditional and charter public and accredited non-public schools and any schools participating in the Indiana Choice Scholarship program, or schools that receive state-funded vouchers for attending students based on income.

Under P.L. 221, just traditional public schools are subject to state intervention for low performance. Just two schools received Fs in the area: Harrison Hill Elementary in Fort Wayne Community Schools and Central Noble Middle in Central Noble Community School Corporation.

If schools receiving voucher dollars earn a D or F for two consecutive years, they face suspension from the voucher program for incoming students for one year. Sanctions become more severe the longer these schools earn a D or F grade.

St. John Lutheran School in Kendallville, Cornerstone College Prep of Fort Wayne and Central Christian School of Fort Wayne were the only voucher schools in northeast Indiana to receive a letter grade lower than a C.

Eighty-five percent of private schools received As and Bs.

sarah.janssen@jg.net

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