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Last updated: Thu. Jan. 16, 2014 - 09:34 am EDT

County districts’ state grades steady

Educators point out context, eye future

Grades and points

Allen County school districts received a score out of four points.

FWCS received a C letter grade with a total of 2.19 points. Last year, the district received 2.13 points.

NACS received an A letter grade with a total of 3.96 points, the same as last year.

EACS received a C letter grade with a total of 2.72 points. Last year, the district received 2.28 points.

SACS received an A letter grade with a total of 3.97 points. Last year, the district received 3.61 points.

An increase of less than a percentage point for several districts was the only noticeable change to overall grades for Allen County’s public school districts, according to state data released Wednesday.

The Department of Education’s rating system assigns A-to-F grades to schools and districts based on student performance.

Last month, all districts received grades for individual schools, but overall corporation grades were left off the list. The districts’ overall grades were released Wednesday after being approved by the Indiana State Board of Education.

Fort Wayne Community Schools and East Allen County Schools retained an overall grade of a C, while Northwest Allen and Southwest Allen County schools again received overall A grades, according to Department of Education data.

All districts either increased their total points from last year or retained the same number of points out of a total of four possible points.

FWCS officials acknowledged that the district grade remained the same from the previous year but said they remain focused on moving forward.

“We’re really not focusing on last year, we’re focusing on making sure our students are learning this year,” said Melanie Hall, director of public affairs.

Some districts – including FWCS – have said they won’t recognize the grades because of massive ISTEP+ testing interruptions in the spring.

NACS Superintendent Chris Himsel encouraged parents to keep in mind that the grades primarily reflect the scores of statewide tests and not what happens in classrooms on a daily basis.

“Although we still have work to do with individual students so that each of our schools can earn an ‘A’ rating regardless of the accountability system that will eventually be adopted, overall, I am very proud of our continued success,” Himsel said in a letter posted on the district’s website.

“I realize and recognize that this consistent performance is a team effort.”

Indiana lawmakers have already ordered that the formula used for calculating schools’ grades be changed because it was too complex and unfairly compared students with their peers instead of looking at growth. A new system will be used for the 2014-15 school year.

SACS Associate Superintendent Philip Downs said the district is already in the process of considering other tests to determine how much students are growing, including matching ISTEP+ data to test results from the Northwest Education Association’s assessment.

Downs said when students’ scores are compared with their own scores, rather than the scores of their peers as ISTEP+ does, the growth is noticeable.

EACS officials said they will continue to work toward an A rating.

“We are pleased that we increased in total points, however, EACS will continuously work to increase the grade to an ‘A’ because we have administrators, teachers and students who are committed to do so,” the district said in a statement.

School districts throughout the state saw similar trends with one additional district receiving an A rating and slightly fewer districts receiving failing grades.

Statewide, 94 public school districts received an A. In comparison, four school districts received an F. A total of 82 districts received a B rating, 91 received a C rating and 18 received a D rating.

Last year, 93 public school districts received an A rating, while six received an F. In addition, 57 school districts received a B rating, 109 received a C rating and 25 received a D rating.

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