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Blackford County Schools Receive an ''A''


Courtesy of the Muncie Star Press
by Michelle Kinsey -
When it comes to grades, everyone wants an "A," right?

But that doesn''t mean, despite a lot of hard work and effort, that you''ll get one.

While several area school districts received that top grade, given under Public Law 221 by the Indiana Department of Education, others had to come to terms with a "B," "C," or even the dreaded "D."

Districts earning an "A" were Wes-Del, Yorktown, Blackford, Blue River Valley, Shenandoah, Monroe Central, Jay, Randolph Southern and Union.

Muncie Community Schools earned a "C," showing academic progress for the second year in a row.

No area school districts were given a failing grade for 2010-11 school year, according to the results, announced Monday by the IDOE.

The lowest grade -- a "D" -- was handed to Cowan, Daleville, C.A. Beard, South Henry and Randolph Eastern.

But Cowan Community Schools Supt. Dennis Chambers isn''t rushing to make big changes or even admonish the students and staff for not trying. He knows they did.

And, he said, these grades can be deceiving.

"The system, as it is now, is set up in such a way that it looks for a certain amount of increase from year to year," he said. "So you could have a really great year, with big gains, then drop just a few percentage points the next year and you wind up with a ''D,''" he noted.

Last year, that same district earned a commendable rating.

According to Chambers, the IDOE planned to have a new system in place this year that would eliminate this and other grading issues, but "it was not ready."

"In the meantime, we''ll just have to take what we get and keep moving forward, with the focus on growth for all students," he said.

P.L. 221 measures student performance through ISTEP+ scores for elementary and middle school students and End of Course Assessment scores in Algebra I and English 10 for high schoolers.

This is the first year the IDOE is using its new A through F letter-grading system, which replaced the prior categories of Exemplary Progress, Commendable Progress, Academic Progress, Academic Watch and Academic Probation.

Statewide, 775 schools received an "A," 166 schools a "B," 536 schools a "C," 254 schools a "D" and 111 schools an "F."

Local schools earning good grades include Storer ("A"), South View ("A"), Longfellow ("A"), Mitchell ("A") and North View ("A"). Both Northside and Wilson middle schools earned a "D," which means those schools are on academic watch. Grissom, Sutton and East Washington Academy got "C"s. So, too, did Central and Southside.

Mitchell Principal Cindy Lavagnilio used one word to sum up how she feels about the results for her school: proud.

"We are proud of all of our teachers, parents and students for working so hard each year," she said.

She, like many other elementary school principals, attributed the success to "following the 8-Step process." Central High School was the first MCS secondary school to implement the process this fall.

St. Lawrence, St. Mary''s and Heritage Hall Christian School all earned "A" grades.

All area school districts do have something in common -- each one made AYP for the 2010-11 school year.

As reported by The Star Press in July, Muncie Community Schools made AYP for the first time since 2003.

AYP results for all schools statewide were also released Monday by the IDOE.

Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) is determined by student performance and participation rates on the (ISTEP+) assessments in English/language arts and mathematics; student attendance rates (for elementary and middle schools); and graduation rates (for high schools).

Statewide, 51 percent of all schools made AYP.

Contact education reporter Michelle Kinsey at 213-5822.

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