News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

January 15, 2014

Vigo Schools get passing grade

Grade of ‘C’ is the same as last year

TERRE HAUTE — The Vigo County School Corp. has received a “C” under the state’s 2013 grading accountability system.

The district received a “C” last year too. On a point system, the district declined slightly, with 2.67 points this year compared with 2.74 points last year.

The State Board of Education, under Public Law 221, approved grades for school districts during a meeting Wednesday after releasing grades for individual schools last month.

The new ratings give A’s to 94 districts, while 82 received B’s, 91 C’s and 18 got D’s.

Four districts received an F: Indianapolis Public Schools, Medora Community Schools in southern Indiana’s Jackson County and the Gary and East Chicago districts in Lake County, according to IDOE.

Under the grading scale, a 3.5 to 4.0 is an A; 3.0 to 3.49 is a B; 2.0 to 2.99 is a C; 1 to 1.99 is a D; and 0 to 0.99 is an F.

According to information provided by the Indiana Department of Education, corporation grades are calculated similarly to school grades.

• A corporation is essentially treated as a combined school with an elementary (K-8) component, a high school component and an overall weighted average of the two for the final corporation grade.

• The corporation grades are not a sum of the schools’ grades. Students can be included in the corporation grade that were not included in school calculations.

For example, a student may be enrolled in School 1 for 90 days and School 2 for 90 days. The student is not included in performance calculations for either School 1 or 2 because the 162 minimum enrollment days were not met.

However, Corporation A (which contains School 1 and 2) is accountable for this student because the student was enrolled in the corporation for 180 days.

• A corporation’s proficiency cannot exceed 1 percent ISTAR proficiency and 2 percent IMAST proficiency (both special education state assessments) unless an exemption is granted according to U.S. Department of Education guidelines. Students must be removed from the proficiency count if the caps are exceeded and an exemption is not granted.

Karen Goeller, VCSC deputy superintendent, noted that the district’s elementary/middle schools had a grade of C (2.0) and its high schools had a grade of A (3.73). “Because of the populations in those two groups, the score was weighted more heavily toward the elementary/middle than it is toward the high school,” she said.

Goeller also noted the district was penalized because “we had too many special education students who qualified and passed IMAST or ISTAR. There is a corporation 1 percent cap on ISTAR and a corporation 2 percent cap on IMAST, and we exceeded the caps by 325 students.

“That is why the corporation had a 2.82 average originally. After these students were removed from the calculation, the district dropped to a 2.67,” she stated.

In a comparison with nine other large districts that make up the Indiana Urban Schools Association, she pointed out that none received an A; one received a B; five a C; two a D and two an F.

“It is important to consider the population challenges in large districts,” she said, including Vigo’s high percentage of special education students.

In the 2013 Category Placements for individual schools, 15 VCSC schools received an A grade; five schools received a B grade; one school received a C grade; four schools received a D grade; and one school received an F grade. Twenty schools received either an A or B compared with 17 schools in 2012.  

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

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