SYRACUSE — Each year the Indiana Department of Education assigns letter grades to public schools in the state. For the most part, the grades assigned are based on ISTEP+ results and growth.
Frankly, though, many school corporations including the Wawasee Community School Corp. don’t believe the letter grades are an accurate reflection of what goes on in school buildings. During the Tuesday, Feb. 14, regular monthly meeting of the Wawasee school board in Syracuse, the board heard a report from Shawn Johnson, who works with corporation testing data, about how the corporation grades itself.
Joy Goshert, assistant superintendent, noted concerning the self assessment “we wanted to take a look at the things we do in the district.” Johnson said each of the schools in the Wawasee district were assigned a C by IDOE. “That is valuable information, but it doesn’t present an entire picture of what is going on in Wawasee schools,” he said.
In addition to ISTEP+ results, NWEA testing results, student and staff attendance and other factors figure in to the corporation grading itself. A point value is assigned to each area. “We feel it is a more accurate, more descriptive look at each building,” Johnson said. “It is a well-rounded look at each building.”
Based on information gathered, Milford Elementary was given an A, North Webster Elementary a B, Syracuse Elementary an A, Milford Middle School a B, Wawasee Middle School a B and Wawasee High School was given a B.
Also during her report to the board, Goshert noted Kelly Clifford from Five-Star Technology Solutions provided staff development for administrators and instructional/technology coaches for the 1:1 devices Feb. 7. That information will then be shared with teachers during Wednesday morning Smart Starts.
A survey was done among teachers concerning the 1:1 devices and of the 70 percent who participated in the survey, overall most of them feel the devices are helpful and students are using them effectively. Some teachers feel they need more support from technology coaches.
In other business, Eric Speicher, Syracuse Elementary principal, gave a brief report on the school improvement plan. He said enrollment has grown significantly at the school in the last few years. Concerning ISTEP+, “it is not where we want it to be yet,” he said about testing results.
During his report to the board, Dr. Tom Edington, superintendent, said discussions are being held concerning installing a turf field at Warrior Field at Wawasee High School. It could possibly be ready by the start of the 2017 football season.
Some work remains to be done in the dark room at the high school, he added. And the goal is to have the former VFW building ready for use by the 2017-18 school year.
Other agenda items included:
• Leeann Estrada, WHS student, was recognized for being given the prestigious full-ride Wells Scholarship to attend Indiana University.
• Kim Nguyen, WHS principal, was recognized for being given the 2016 Outstanding Educator Award by the Syracuse-Wawasee Chamber of Commerce.
• Goshen Health donated 30 lab coats to Milford Middle School and 30 lab coats to Wawasee Middle School for use by eighth-graders in medical detectives classes.
• Milford School received a $100 donation from Fidelity National Title for student lunches.
• Several out of state or overnight trips were approved for Wawasee FFA, WHS culinary arts to attend the national food show in Chicago, WHS DECA to attend a conference in Indianapolis and WHS Robotics Club to participate in the state tourney in Zionsville.
• An accreditation team will visit Wawasee schools and plans to arrive Sunday, March 19. They will give an exit report at noon Wednesday, March 22.