Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

January 16, 2014

Eastern, Western given A's in state assessment

Letter grades released by education department for corporations

By Lauren Fitch Kokomo Tribune
Kokomo Tribune

---- — INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana school corporations found out how they measured up in 2013 according to the Indiana Department of Education corporation A to F grades, which were released Wednesday morning.

Among area school districts, Eastern Howard County School Corp. and Western School Corp. improved on their 2012 grades to receive an A for 2013. Kokomo School Corp. improved from an F to a D. Tipton Community School Corp. and Peru Community Schools maintained B’s, while Tri-Central Community Schools and Maconaquah School Corp. held steady with C’s.

“Overall, it goes back to the success of each building,” said Western Schools Superintendent Randy McCracken, noting three of the corporation’s four schools showed improvement over last year. “One of the challenges we have is … our teachers and students consistently do well. It’s adding in that growth that keeps some schools from making it.”

Through remediation targeting specific skills, teachers helped students improve in the past year, McCracken said. Still, the A to F system does not always provide a fair comparison of schools, he added.

“It marks some schools as not being as strong when they might have a different set of challenges,” he said.

Northwestern School Corp. fell from an A in 2012 to a B in 2013, and Taylor Community School Corp. went from a B to a C. Grades for individual schools were released in December.

“Certainly, I’m very proud of the hard work that goes into getting an A from the teachers, staff, students and parental support,” said Tracy Caddell, Eastern superintendent. “I’ve always been a supporter of school letter grades. I think it’s something parents can grasp. It doesn’t tell you everything about a school corporation, but it’s a snapshot.”

Caddell does not consider Eastern’s improvement from a 3.5-point B grade in 2012 to a 3.75-point A grade a sign of significant change in the corporation. A jump of two letter grades would indicate a real change, he said, rather than just a variance in the metrics measured.

“We received a B last year, and I thought, we have some work to do,” Caddell said. “Even receiving an A, we still have work to do.”

Of Indiana’s 289 school corporations that were graded, the largest group (95) received A’s. Eighty-two earned B’s, 91 received C’s and 18 were given D’s. Four corporations — East Chicago, Gary, Indianapolis and Medora — received failing grades.

In 2012, C was the most common grade received.

Education reporter Lauren Fitch can be reached at 765-454-8587, by email at lauren.fitch@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @LaurenBFitch.