The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, February 03, 2016 10:03 pm

Most schools' grades stay flat

Dave Gong | The Journal Gazette

Most school districts in Indiana saw no change to their annual accountability grades in 2015, according to data released Wednesday by the Indiana Department of Education.

Because of a large drop in standardized test scores in 2015 related to new academic standards and a more rigorous test, legislators voted to allow 2015 A-F school grades to rise if standardized test scores improved. Otherwise, most schools retained their 2014 grade.

None of Allen County’s districts had grades that increased, receiving A’s or B’s on the 2015 scorecard.

The grades don’t mean much to Fort Wayne Community Schools, spokeswoman Krista Stockman said. The grades are a label from the state that the school district doesn’t use, she said. FWCS received a B grade in 2015 and 2014.

"The big thing at this point is we’ve really moved on from the tests that were taken a year ago, the grades that have come out a year later," Stockman said. "Our focus is this school year and what’s happening right now. The students take tests again starting at the end of the month, so that’s where our focus is."

Chris Himsel, superintendent of Northwest Allen County Schools, agreed and said the district is not putting stock in the accountability grades released by the state.

"It’s not going to change what we do. We try to provide a healthy and safe learning environment that engages our learners in meaningful activities and supports them whenever learning becomes difficult and obstacles get in the way," he said.

"Nothing’s going to deviate us away from that mission, and our primary focus at this point is not to look back on the past and all the issues that came across with the ISTEP+ and the transition to the new test and the new accountability standards and those kinds of things."

Statewide, 132 school districts received an A grade, while 94 received a B, 54 scored a C and eight received a D. Only one school district, Gary Community Schools in northwest Indiana, received a failing grade.

"After more than 18 months spent advocating on behalf of Hoosier students, educators and schools, Indiana’s education community has been held harmless as we transitioned to more rigorous standards and a more rigorous, state-mandated, ISTEP+ assessment," Glenda Ritz, state superintendent of public instruction, said in a statement.

"I am pleased to release school corporation accountability grades today which do not penalize schools and communities for this challenging transition.

"Hoosier students, educators and families have my gratitude for their dedication and hard work over the past year."

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