Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Duneland area schools earn As and Bs in 2016 accountability grades

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

The Indiana Department of Education on Tuesday released the 2015-16 accountability grades for Indiana schools.

The grades reflect schools’ performances on ISTEP+ testing scores for language and math, graduation rates and student college readiness.

In the Duneland School District, the majority of schools earned Bs this year -- six of them -- and three of them received As.

The A schools are Liberty Elementary, Liberty Intermediate and Westchester Intermediate.

The B schools are Bailly Elementary, Brummitt Elementary, Jackson Elementary, Yost Elementary, Chesterton Middle School and Chesterton High School.

For comparison, all schools in Duneland, including Discovery Charter School and St. Patrick School, received As last year

This year, St. Patrick’s received an A again while Discovery Charter School received a B.

The accountability grades are being released about a month after the state released the 2016 ISTEP grades which declined slightly from 2015’s scores statewide. The state transitioned the ISTEP+ tests to more rigorous standards in 2015 to test students career and college readiness, establishing a new baseline.

Duneland Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Jim Goetz told the Chesterton Tribune that it is still difficult to read what the grades mean for each school since there is can be no “apples-to-apples” comparison when state lawmakers inaugurate new standards each year. He said he finds the situation “frustrating.”

“As much as they keep changing things around with the standards, who knows if these (grades) are good,” Goetz said.

If there is one thing he can tell from the results it’s that Duneland fared well compared to other school districts in Porter County. He points out that with East Porter Schools, Duneland did not receive anything lower than a B grade while other school corporations like Valparaiso, Portage, Porter Twp. and MSD Boone Twp. all had at least one school with a C grade.

Goetz said that he is also proud of the continued progress the schools have made in both its top 75 percent of students and its bottom 25 percent of students which are checked for growth by the accountability system. He commends the work of the teachers and the students.

Goetz also said he wishes the state would release the scores sooner so administrators can take the time needed to adequately address issues. Typically, accountability grades and ISTEP scores were released at the beginning of the school year, he said.

Goetz said he is eager to see if more issues will get resolved next year having a new Superintendent of Public Instruction -- Republican Jennifer McCormick -- in power.

For the previous accountability grades, the State Legislature passed bills that would hold schools harmless if their grades had declined from the year before because of the more challenging standards. It has not been decided yet if a similar measure will be taken for this year.

Meanwhile, St. Patrick Principal Richard Rupcich said this is the seventh consecutive year his school has received an A grade, making it the top elementary school in the Northwest Indiana region for standardized testing and accountability scores.

“It is a credit to our students and their families, as our students do their homework, take testing seriously, and come to school ready to learn,” Rupcich said, also thanking the teaching staff, the pastor and parish for their support.

Rupcich said he understands the frustration other schools have expressed about the variances in standardized testing. To keep ahead, St. Patrick has found it useful to be teaching “a year ahead” such as kindergarten learning first grade math and eighth grade learning high school algebra.

“This curriculum approach can help absorb seemingly ongoing variances in the state’s approach of testing and accountability,” he said.

Discovery Charter School Principal Ernesto Martinez said that the standards and testing in Indiana continue to be “a moving target” and it may continue that way for a few years yet.

While the Discovery’s grade dropped from an A to a B this year, Martinez said his teachers “will continue to adjust and provide a quality learning environment” to be successful in standardized testing and develop a love for learning in students.

“I continue to be impressed with the hard work of our staff, students and parents,” Martinez said.

Outgoing State Superintendent of Public Education Glenda Ritz in a press release Tuesday stated: "I want to thank Indiana's students, educators and families for their countless hours of work over the last academic year. This year, Indiana implemented a new student-centered school accountability system utilizing Indiana's new, more rigorous standards and assessments for the first time.

“For those reasons, the 2015-16 school year establishes a new baseline for school accountability grades in Indiana. Moving forward, the Department of Education will continue to support students, educators and schools with the important work of school improvement."

Below is a list recapping each individual school’s accountability grade in the Duneland area. For comparison purposes, the 2015 grades are in parentheses:

Duneland School Corp.

Bailly Elementary -- B (A)

Brummitt Elementary -- B (A)

Jackson Elementary -- B (A)

Liberty Elementary -- A (A)

Yost Elementary -- B (A)

Liberty Intermediate -- A (A)

Westchester Intermediate -- A (A)

Chesterton Middle School -- B (A)

Chesterton High School -- B (A)

Discovery Charter School

Discovery Charter School -- B (A)

St. Patrick’s School

St. Patrick’s School -- A (A)

 

 

Posted 12/14/2016

 
 
 
 

 

 

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