Schools receive federal accountability rankings


Most public schools in Jackson County are meeting or close to reaching federal accountability standards, but none are exceeding them, according to the 2018-19 school accountability ratings.

The Indiana Department of Education released the data to the public late last week.

Schools are measured on indicators such as academic achievement, academic progress, closing achievement gaps, graduation rates, English language proficiency, strength of diploma and addressing chronic absenteeism.

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Just two local schools, Medora Elementary School and Crothersville Junior-Senior High School, received overall ratings of “does not meet expectations,” while five schools, Medora Junior-Senior High School, Cortland Elementary School, Emerson Elementary School, Seymour-Redding Elementary School and Brownstown Central High School, were rated as “meeting expectations.”

Seven schools received ratings of “approaching expectations.” They were Seymour High School, Margaret R. Brown Elementary School, Seymour Middle School, Seymour-Jackson Elementary School, Brownstown Central Middle School, Brownstown Elementary School and Crothersville Elementary School.

Medora Principal Austin Skutnik said major changes are taking place at the elementary school this school year to meet federal accountability expectations in the future.

The school recently became the first in Jackson County to have its elementary teachers certified in Project Lead the Way engineering and technology curriculum.

“Our students are constantly building and practicing 21st century skills,” she said.

The school also has adopted a new formative assessment called Exact Paths, which places each student on their own learning path to meet them where they are and to provide them with resources to help address learning gaps.

The data from the assessments is used by teachers for classroom, small group and individual remediation and enrichment, she said.

Medora Elementary continues to offer the ELITE after-school program twice a week, where students have the opportunity to practice skills and participate in fun and engaging project-based and STEM learning activities, Skutnik said.

The elementary also recently qualified for a visit from the IDOE to become a STEM certified school.

“We have such a hardworking, dedicated and caring team of teachers and support staff at Medora,” she said. “We have taken some risks and have had successes and failures that we learn from every day. We look forward to seeing all of the ways our students will continue to grow.”

Brownstown Superintendent Tim Taylor said he is happy that Brownstown schools are meeting or approaching federal expectations.

“We will continue to strive toward exceeding these expectations while creating the opportunity for the growth of our schools and our students,” he said.

Statewide, more than 56% of high schools and 53% of elementary and middle schools received a rating of “meets expectations” or “exceeds expectations.”

For the second year, Indiana schools are being assessed under two accountability systems due to differences between federal and state accountability requirements.

In an effort to provide more clarity and move away from the issuance of two grades, however, the U.S. Department of Education approved the IDOE’s amendment to the state’s Every Student Succeeds Act accountability plan, which allows for Indiana schools to receive federal accountability ratings in lieu of federal accountability grades.

The purpose of the federal accountability system is to provide actionable data that is accessible and aligned to long-term policy goals for student achievement, according to the IDOE.

The change, however, also allows for a better understanding of the system as a tool to more accurately measure achievement and provide motivated progress toward success, as opposed to it simply becoming a punitive mark, the IDOE stated in a news release.

A request was made in 2019 by Indiana State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick and the Indiana General Assembly to pass a bill during the upcoming 2020 legislative session that would hold schools harmless from 2018-19 state accountability grades.

That request came in reaction to low test scores on the spring 2019 administration of the ILEARN test, the first for the most recent modification to the previously well-recognized ISTEP+.

Medora Superintendent Roger Bane said he wasn’t surprised by the accountability results because of low ILEARN scores, which affects academic achievement and progress.

“Everyone did terrible on the first round of ILEARN testing, so we were assigned the same ranking this year as last,” he said.

The State Board of Education also has adopted a resolution withholding any vote to release state accountability grades until the General Assembly has officially taken action in the upcoming 2020 legislative session.

“I am proud of the work Indiana schools are doing to academically prepare our children for life beyond high school,” McCormick said. “To better serve schools for future successes, however, it is important we develop a single modernized state-legislated accountability system that is fair, accurate and transparent. Our kids, schools, teachers and parents deserve it.”

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Jackson County public schools federal accountability ratings

School;Overall school rating

Medora Junior-Senior High School;Meets expectations

Medora Elementary School;Does not meet expectations

Cortland Elementary School;Meets expectations

Seymour High School;Approaching expectations

Margaret R. Brown Elementary School;Approaching expectations

Seymour Middle School;Approaching expectations

Emerson Elementary School;Meets expectations

Seymour-Jackson Elementary School;Approaching expectations

Seymour-Redding Elementary School;Meets expectations

Brownstown Central Middle School;Approaching expectations

Brownstown Central High School;Meets expectations

Brownstown Elementary School;Approaching expectations

Crothersville Junior-Senior High School;Does not meet expectations

Crothersville Elementary School;Approaching expectations

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A complete listing of federal accountability ratings and how they’re calculated is available at Scroll down to the "federal results" listings.


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