All four school corporations in Jackson County received passing A-F accountability grades from the state.
Corporation grades for 2015-16 were released last Wednesday by the Indiana Department of Education. The grades come about a month after the IDOE released individual school grades.
Medora Community School Corp. showed the most improvement, increasing from a D in 2014-15 to a B in 2015-16. B is the best grade the district has earned the past five years.
For two consecutive years, 2011-12 and 2012-13, the second-smallest public school corporation in the state received failing marks.
Grades are determined on student performance in math and English/language arts on the ISTEP+ test and how much growth students show on the test from the previous year.
Medora Superintendent Roger Bane said he is most proud of the improvement seen at Medora Junior-Senior High School, which had ISTEP+ pass rates above the state average in both mathematics and English/language arts.
“Hopefully, we can build on this success and improve our letter grades at all levels,” he said.
But Bane doesn’t believe the grades truly reflect what’s happening in public schools.
“I don’t believe the letter grade given to schools by the state is an accurate account of how hard teachers are working or how well schools are actually doing educating our students,” he said.
Seymour Community School Corp. saw the biggest drop, going from an A in 2014-15 to a C in 2015-16. The district last earned a C in 2012-13 before receiving an A for two consecutive years.
The school’s report card showed Seymour High School was above average in the number of students passing mathematics on the ISTEP+.
Brownstown Central Community School Corp. fell from an A in 2014-15 to a B in 2015-16. Both the elementary school and the high school were above state average in the number of students passing mathematics on the ISTEP+.
The district earned back-to-back A’s in 2013-14 and 2014-15 and received a B in 2012-13.
Superintendent Greg Walker said only 23 school corporations in the state received an A this time.
“I think this shows how difficult it was to achieve this level with the new standards that have been put in place,” he said.
In 2014, Indiana implemented more rigorous college and career ready standards and a more challenging assessment aligned to the standards.
A total of 175 districts in the state, or 61 percent, received a B this year.
“So we performed at the same level as the majority of the state,” Walker said.
Like many other local education officials, Walker said he does not like to see the state grade schools based on the results of one test.
“I am not in favor of giving schools or corporations a grade or label based on one test and one snapshot in time,” he said. “I am very proud of our teachers and administrators and the work they do to ensure our students are prepared in an ever-changing testing world.”
Crothersville Community School Corp. maintained a grade of B, which it has held for three consecutive school years since 2013-14. Before that, it had received a D.
The number of students passing the ISTEP+ math test was above state average at both the elementary school and the junior-senior high school, while the elementary school also had a higher pass rate than the state average in English/language arts.
ISTEP+ testing for the 2016-17 school year begins Feb. 27. A second round will begin April 17.