The Indiana Department of Education has judged school performance for the first time by using letter grades and a pair of Greene County school districts scored "A's".
Eastern Greene and White River Valley both tallied "A" grades under the state's accountability metrics outlined within Public Law 221 with an "Exemplary" ranking based on student performance and improvement data from the state's ISTEP+ test and end-of-course assessments.
The grades were released this week by state officials.
Linton-Stockton Corporation earned a "B" grade overall and a "commendable" designation.
Bloomfield School District was graded a "C" and made academic progress designation.
The MSD of Shakamak District was given a "D" and put on an "Academic Watch" list.
Eastern Greene Superintendent Ty Mungle says he's pleased with the progress his school is making in the classroom and testing.
"This is the first year letter grades have been given to schools. Therefore, we don't have complete understanding on how the scores are determined and what part of our scores over the last two years come into play," Mungle told the Greene County Daily World. "Obviously, we are very excited at Eastern Greene. This is such an honor for our school and community. Our school community from the building administrators, teachers, support staff, students and parents should be commended on the academic growth of our students. Eastern Greene has made great strides in the area of technology and it seems the students are responding to having technology as part of their learning environment. We realize this is a report card and everyone at Eastern Greene must continue to work hard and maintain our focus on student learning."
White River Valley Superintendent Layton Wall is also elated with the scores for his district.
"The Worthington and Lyons buildings had 'A's' and the junior-senior high school moved up dramatically to a 'C' and we are improving there," Wall said. "The overall corporation grade was an 'A' and we're very proud of that. We did very well with the ISTEP scores."
Wall said improvement put in place the last few years appear to be working.
"Certainly you can't talk about improving the scores without talking about teachers. They are really making the necessary changes, doing assessments and interventions and we have new programs. We are becoming more and more of a data-driven school and where the data shows us we need to go that is kind of where we go. We look for student weaknesses, scores and do what we can to help out," Wall said. "I think we have a lot of good things going on here at White River Valley."
Rankings by individual schools were:
White River Valley (A)
WRV Worthington -- A (Exemplary)
WRV Lyons -- A (Exemplary)
WRV Junior-Senior High -- C (Academic Progress)
Eastern Greene (A)
Eastern Greene Middle School -- C (Academic Progress)
Eastern Greene High School -- C (Academic Progress)
Eastern Greene Elementary -- D (Academic Watch)
L-S Elementary -- A (Exemplary)
L-S High School -- C (Academic Progress)
L-S Junior High -- D (Academic Watch)
Bloomfield Elementary -- A (Exemplary)
Bloomfield Junior-Senior High -- D (Academic Watch)
MSD of Shakamak (D)
Shakamak Junior-Senior High -- C
Shakamak Elementary -- D
Northeast Sullivan (C)
Dugger Elementary -- C (Academic Progress)
Union High School -- C (Academic Progress)
Mungle explained his school's scores by saying, "It is our understanding the scores of the high school and middle school would have been an A if each of those schools would have made AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) last year. Because they didn't the highest score they could receive this year is a C. It is also my understanding the district score was higher because all schools at Eastern Greene made AYP. At EG Elementary, scores from only our third and fourth graders are used to determine their score. I don't know if the elementary scores are weighted accordingly since only two grade levels get tested in our elementary, but I do know last year EG Elementary would have received a B if letter grades would have been issued last year."
The first-year letter grades were accompanied by the traditional rankings schools have received since PL 221's implementation in 1999. The five letter grades assigned to schools align with the five placement categories traditionally given to schools. The switch to letter grades aims to increase transparency and engagement in school communities, according to Indiana Department of Education officials.
Category placements are based on three factors:
* Performance -- The percentage of all students who pass the English/language arts and math portions of the ISTEP-Plus test -- averaged across subjects and grade levels.
* Improvement -- Improvements in the passing percentage of students passing the English/language arts and math portions of the ISTEP-Plus test from one year to the next -- averaged over a three-year period.
* Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status -- Schools that do not make AYP for two consecutive years can place no higher than the 'academic progress' category. The schools remain capped at that level until they make AYP for two straight years.
A record number of Hoosier schools, 775 in total, received an "A" or "Exemplary" ranking.
Overall, more than 50 percent of Indiana's schools reside in the two highest school ranking categories: 42 percent earned the highest ranking available, "A" or "Exemplary," and another 9 percent were designated as "B" or "Commendable" schools.
The number of schools receiving an "F" or "Academic Probation" ranking decreased by 50 percent from 2011 to 2010 and is at its lowest point in state history.
Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) scores were also released for schools statewide.
In Greene County, all schools made AYP with the exception of Linton-Stockton High School, Linton-Stockton Elementary School, White River Valley Junior-Senior High School, and Shakamak Elementary School.
Overall, 51 percent of Indiana schools made AYP in 2011.
AYP is the federal measure for academic progress outlined in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and it has been included in PL 221 since the law went into effect. Schools not making AYP for two consecutive years can receive no higher than a "C" or "Academic Progress" ranking, even where a school has raised scores enough to earn a higher rating by state measures.