Students are assigned letter grades based on their performance in school and so are the schools.
On Oct. 31, Indiana Department of Education officially released to the public the letter grades assigned to public schools statewide. Wawasee High School was assigned an A grade by IDOE.
Grades are assigned to public high schools based on a number of factors. Those factors include the number of students who pass end-of-course assessments for English, language arts and math by the end of their sophomore year, the rate of student improvement from grades eight to 10 and 10 to 12, graduation rate and also the percentage of graduates who receive at least one of the following: a passing score on an Advanced Placement exam or an International Baccalaureate exam, three college credits or a passing score on an approved industry certification exam.
For the 2011-12 academic year, WHS had a graduation rate of 91.7 percent. For math, student improvement rates for math end of course assessments went from 83.7 percent at the end of eighth grade to 97.2 at the end of the 10th grade. From 10th grade to graduation, the improvement rate was 95.2 percent.
For English and language arts, the improvement rate was 74.6 percent after the eighth grade and 77.9 percent after the 10th grade. From 10th grade to graduation, the improvement rate was 95 percent.
A couple of years ago, IDOE began discussions about how to update the way school performance ratings are determined. Eventually two models were developed č one for elementary and middle schools and one for high schools. The new system was adopted during the 2011-12 academic year.
Public Law 221 passed by the Indiana General Assembly in 1999 requires school performance ratings.
Other Wawasee Schools
The news for other schools in the Wawasee school corporation is not so bright. Milford, Syracuse and North Webster each received a C grade, while Wawasee Middle School was given a D, despite originally being graded a C.
Letter grades for elementary and middle schools are based upon English/language arts and math ISTEP+ performance, participation and improvement, as well as student growth.
But the accuracy of the data is being questioned. “As a district, Wawasee Community Schools received a C grade from the state this year even though our test scores were very similar to 2010-2011,” said Dr. Tom Edington, superintendent. “Last year, Wawasee was an A school district. What happened?”
Edington cited several reasons to possibly account for the lower overall grade including test scores being 1 percent lower for 2011-12. “Any dip in test scores results in a drop of at least a letter grade from the state,” he said.
The state’s grading scale for schools was changed, he said, and is different than the normal traditional grading scale. For example, the state’s scale requires a 3.5 to get a B (traditional scale is a 3), and 3 is required to get a C (2 is the traditional number).
Edington also noted Wawasee is teaching the common core state standards curricula used by more than 40 states, but “Indiana is still testing over the old state standards curricula.”
All grades with the exception of the high school were appealed and “we remain uncertain with the validity of the state’s data.”
But, Edington added, there is work to be done when all of the schools in the district are not either an A or a B. “We need to commit ourselves to use student data and available resources to reach our goals.”
Statewide, more than 61 percent of schools received A or B letter grades for the 2011-12 academic year, Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Tony Bennett announced. And 207 schools received an A grade for the first time.