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home : news : local news October 22, 2017

Schools grades improve
WWS appealing state's grade of middle school
By Kevin Thompkins

Noblesville is pleased, Westfield will appeal.

The Indiana Department of Education released grades for each school in the state, and many Hamilton County schools got better grades than last year.

Noblesville, for example, saw seven of its schools receive A grades, up from four in 2015-2016.

• Noblesville East Middle School improved from a B to an A.

• Noblesville West Middle School also jumped to an A, from a B the previous year.

• Stony Creek Elementary School received an A for 2016-17, up from a B the previous grading period.

• North Elementary School also improved to an A from B grade.

"While standardized test scores are really only one small measure of the good work we're doing at Noblesville Schools, we appreciate the recognition from the state as an A district," said Annetta Petty, executive director of Learning, for the corporation.

The one stumble for Noblesville was Promise Road Elementary School, falling to a C for 2016-17, from a B the previous year.

"Our excellence in teaching and curriculum extends to all schools in our district and students at schools that didn't receive an A aren't receiving any less of a quality education than their peers. We are simply still working to improve ISTEP scores across the board," Petty said.

Westfield Washington Schools will appeal the grade awarded to Westfield Middle School, following last year's ISTEP+ testing controversy.

"Westfield Washington Schools is appealing the grade for Westfield Middle School because of incorrect instructions provided by the IDOE's ISTEP+ provider Pearson Education. Because of the appeal, their letter grade is not yet available, nor is the district grade overall available until the appeal is determined," said Kate Snedeker, corporation spokeswoman.

Westfield Middle School students, taking the math portion of the ISTEP+ test, were permitted to use a calculator, when it was not allowed. Pearson Education improperly allowed the use of the calculator, and the department of education invalidated the scores of 34 Westfield Middle School students.

The school's appeals were denied by the Indiana Department of Education. IDE ordered the school to score the tests "undetermined."

Only Westfield High School saw its grade rise from the previous year, from a B to an A.

• Carey Ridge Elementary, Maple Glen Elementary, Shamrock Springs Elementary and Monon Trail Elementary all dropped from As to Bs.

• Oak Trace Elementary School maintained its A grade.

• Washington Woods maintained its B grade.

• Westfield Intermediate School fell from a B to C.

"We do not believe that the district's ISTEP+ scores are at all reflective of the quality of instruction taking place in our classrooms each and every day. We have other reliable tools we use for regular assessment and to monitor students' progress and growth, such as NWEA, iReady Math, PSAT, and classroom assessments. The dedicated team of teachers at Westfield Washington Schools will continue to focus on collaboration, innovation, and continuous growth for all students while addressing their social, emotional and academic needs," Snedeker said.

Sheridan Middle School saw the biggest jump in its grade from the 2015-16 school year to the 2016-17 school year. The school improved from an F to an A.

"The staff at Sheridan Middle School has worked extremely hard on curriculum and standard alignment in order to deliver quality instruction to our students. The students responded by performing better on the state standardized testing," said Dr. Doug Miller, superintendent. "As a result the school letter grade improved and we are excited and thrilled about the progress made. Our goal will be to continue the work that has been initiated in order to maintain the progress and continue to improve."

Sheridan High School improved to an A from a B last year, and Sheridan Elementary School maintained its B grade.

"We are thrilled with the results and progress made in terms of the school letter grades," said Doug Miller, superintendent. "Those grades are a product of a great deal of effort by our students and staff members and for that we are pleased. While the letter grade only encompasses a small part of what we do as a school corporation, we are pleased nonetheless."

Hamilton Heights schools improved on maintained their grades.

• Hamilton Heights Elementary made the biggest improvement, jumping from a C in 2015-16 to an A in 2016-17.

• Hamilton Heights Primary School also improved to an A from a C.

• Hamilton Heights High School maintained its B grade.

• Hamilton Heights Middle School maintained its C grade.

"I feel the School Letter grade process is flawed," said Dr. Derek Arrowood, superintendent. "We are extremely proud that HHPS and HHES were recognized as A schools. That doesn't mean however that we are going to stop working really hard to make those buildings even better places for our students to learn. I am also extremely proud of what is happening at HHMS and HHHS and am certainly not 'less proud' because they were not A schools. The grades at HHMS and HHHS show that as good as we think those schools are for our students we are going to work really hard to make them even better."

Established in 1999, the General Assembly passed Public Law 221-199 which created a performance-based accountability system. In response to this legislation, the State Board of Education, IDOE, and the Education Roundtable collaborated over the next two years to establish the administrative rules outlining the accountability system. These rules were finalized and in place by the end of 2001. In 2015, SBOE established new metrics for Indiana's student-centered accountability system. The metrics when into effect beginning with the assessment of the 2015-16 school year.

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