January 16, 2014

Local supers respond to A-F grades

IDOE releases school district ratings

By Amie Sites Pharos-Tribune

---- — Local superintendents expressed concern, dissatisfaction and determination with the statewide release of school corporation A to F grades Wednesday.

The Indiana Department of Education released the grades for 289 school corporations after a morning vote by the Indiana State Board of Education.

Individual school grades were released in December of last year.

Among public school districts there were 94 A’s, 82 B’s, 91 C’s, 18 D’s and four F’s, a press release said. The grades were determined under the A-F grading system implemented in 2011.

Although most grades stayed the same or improved, local superintendents are wanting to see even more improvement.

The Southeastern School Corp. maintained a C grade. Superintendent Trudie Hedrick said she is not satisfied with the grade.

“I believe we can do better, but it does take time to get the correct programs in place,” Hedrick said. “It’s not something that is going to happen overnight.”

Improving one letter grade from 2012, Pioneer Regional School Corp. received a B.

David Bess, superintendent at Pioneer, said he was pleased with the improvement, but concerned with the grading system.

Administration will do its best to exceed the expectations of the “high stakes requirement,” Bess said.

The grade at Caston School Corp. improved to a C. Cindy Douglass, superintendent at the district, said she is still not satisfied the grade truly reflects the corporation, but she is pleased the grade reflected some progress.

The state board is setting new standards for A-F grades to be used in the 2014-15 school year.

Revised standards will put more emphasis on whether students are improving on standardized tests, rather than ranking them among students statewide.

“The state has admittedly said there are issues, but they’re still issuing scores and grades for schools,” Douglass said. “That is difficult for the school corporations that are affected by that.”

Each superintendent said they would like to see improvement over the next year.

“If the ranking is a letter grade, we’re striving for an A,” Douglass said.

To increase the chances of improvement, programs are being implemented at each school in light of school grades.

Hedrick said staff members at Southeastern are working extra hard to engage students.

The district is looking at the possibility of adding more dual credit and Advanced Placement classes. Hedrick said they are also looking at adding online classes.

“We would give [students] the support to help them through that,” Hedrick said. “A lot of college work is online now and this would provide them an opportunity to get experience.”

Hedrick would like to see these programs in place by August 2014.

Pioneer and Caston are also launching programs to improve. Some additional programs have already been added and more will be added for students in junior high at Pioneer, Bess said.

At Caston School Corp., school officials are looking to add more programs to accurately measure success locally.

A to F grades by corporations School corp. 2013 2012 Carroll B A Caston C D Delphi A B Eastern Pulaski B A Logansport C C Pioneer B C Southeastern C C