A small Lutheran school in Jackson County is appealing its failing state accountability grade.
St. John’s Sauers Lutheran School recently received a grade of “F” from the Indiana Department of Education based on students’ performance in math and English/language arts on last spring’s ISTEP+ exam. ISTEP scores were released by the IDOE in November.
School accountability grades, made public last week, also take into account how much growth and improvement students show from year to year on the test. Half of a school grade depends on growth.
St John’s principal Jon Baumgartel said the grade does not accurately reflect the school’s academic record because last spring was the first time Sauers students have taken the test.
“Sauers had no previous data to calculate growth and that automatically reverted to a failing grade,” he said. “Currently, we are appealing the grade.”
Schools have 30 days to appeal their grades to the State Board of Education.
St. John’s, which is located in rural Seymour, serves 120 students in preschool through eighth grade and has been providing a Christian education to children for 175 years.
The school became accredited by the state this past year in order to be able to accept state-funded Choice tuition vouchers from low-income families.
A total of 41 percent of St. John’s students passed the math and English sections on the test. The ISTEP is taken by students in third through eighth grades and now sophomores in high school.
Baumgartel said the grade makes St. John’s look bad when compared to other schools in the county.
Parochial schools, including Trinity Lutheran High School, Lutheran Central School, St. Ambrose Catholic School and Immanuel Lutheran School, all received A’s this year. Seymour Christian Academy received a D and is in a similar situation as Sauers.
“It’s a poor reflection on the academic successes that we are having here at St. John’s,” Baumgartel said.