Chesterton Tribune

Duneland Schools meet new state progress benchmark

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All but one school corporation in Porter County met a new and higher state benchmark for school progress, but the school-by-school breakdown shows that 13 schools, including two in Duneland, didn’t achieve the designation.

The Indiana Department of Education this morning released the listing of school corporations and individual schools that achieved what’s known as Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), a benchmark set in the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The AYP is based on student performance and participation on the state’s standardized tests, student attendance rates in elementary and middle schools, and high school graduation rates.

Statewide, 50 percent of Indiana schools met AYP this year, a decrease from 54 percent last year, when the bar to make AYP in Indiana was lower.

In a press release, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett criticized the lower school performance.

“It’s unacceptable that only half our schools are achieving the minimum federal standard,” he said. “The circumstances require a renewed commitment from all Hoosiers and a sense of urgency that, sadly, doesn’t currently exist. We simply must do better. The bar has been raised, but if Indiana students are going to compete with their peers from across the U.S. and around the world, we must continue to raise expectations across the board.”

This is the second time since 2005 that Indiana has raised its standard for the minimum percentage of students who are required to pass the state’s standardized test, Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress (ISTEP).

Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, public schools must make AYP for both the overall student population and every demographic group within a school that includes 30 or more students. These subgroups are broken down into student categories based on their household incomes, race and ethnicity, limited English proficiency and special education.

In Porter County, all school corporations except for the Portage School system met the AYP. The Portage Schools did not meet the benchmark due to results in the special education subgroup.

When broken down by a school-by-school basis, the DOE’s listing shows that Liberty Intermediate and Chesterton Middle School are among the 13 Porter County schools that did not meet the AYP individually.

LIS met the benchmark in all categories except for the special education subgroup on the English/language arts portion of ISTEP; CMS met all categories except for the English tests results among the students in the free lunch and special education subgroups and the math test results in the special education subgroup.

The other Porter County schools that didn’t meet AYP individually were: Valparaiso, Portage, Hebron, and Boone Grove high schools; Fegely Middle School in Portage and Thomas Jefferson Middle in Valparaiso; and Aylesworth, Ethel R. Jones, and South Haven elementary schools in the Portage system and Parkview and TJ elementary schools in Valparaiso.

Individual schools can meet AYP if they meet all targets -- academic performance and participation in the ISTEP tests, attendance, and graduation rates -- for the overall student population and each student subgroup, or if they reduce the number of students not meeting performance targets by 10 percent and if they meet attendance and graduation rate targets.

This year’s AYP in Indiana was based on a higher standard. Indiana raises its AYP bar every three years and, beginning in 2010, every year through 2014.

For example, the percentage of students who had to pass the English/language arts portion of ISTEP in the school years spanning 2004 to 2007 in order for their the school to meet AYP was 65.7 percent, but that was increased to 72.6 percent for the 2007-08 school year. The increase for the math passing grade in those same years went from 64.3 percent to 71.5 percent.

By 2014, federal law calls for 100 percent of students at every school to pass state tests in both the English/Language Arts and math portions of ISTEP.

School corporations and individual schools that consistently do not make AYP and which also participate in the federal Title I program can face intervention by the state. In Porter County, only one school -- Aylesworth in Portage -- is on what’s known as Title I “improvement status.”

The complete statewide results for the AYP in Indiana are available online at



Posted 4/15/2009