News From Terre Haute, Indiana

October 31, 2012

Many Vigo schools make good marks in new grading model

District to focus on helping ā€˜Dā€™ and ā€˜Fā€™ schools improve

Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Eighteen Vigo County schools received As and Bs, five received Cs, two scored Ds and two (including one now closed) got an F under the state’s A-F school category placement.

Results were made public after a state Board of Education meeting this morning. Category placements are part of Public Law 221.

“I’m very proud of our grades overall, but I know we have areas of concern,” said Superintendent Dan Tanoos.

The district successfully appealed some of the original grades.

Schools receiving an A are: Fuqua, Dixie Bee, Farrington Grove, Fayette, Lost Creek, Rio Grande, Sugar Creek Consolidated and Sugar Grove elementaries, and Terre Haute North Vigo and South Vigo high schools.

Those receiving a B are as: DeVaney, Deming, Honey Creek Middle School, Hoosier Prairie Elementary, Otter Creek Middle School, Ouabache Elementary, Riley Elementary and West Vigo High School.

Schools receiving a C are: Franklin, Meadows and Terre Town elementaries, as well as West Vigo Middle School and Woodrow Wilson Middle School.

Sarah Scott Middle School and Davis Park Elementary received a D, while West Vigo Elementary and the now-closed Chauncey Rose Middle School received an F.

The School Board has asked Tanoos to place a special focus on helping the schools with Ds and Fs improve. “We’ll really ramp up our efforts” at those schools, he said.

But he also noted district officials don’t need a state A-F ranking system to tell them how schools are doing.

“It tells us nothing more than what we already knew about our schools, but now it puts a big target and label on schools that are in the areas of most need,” he said.

Schools with high percentages of children living in poverty, as well as high percentages of special needs and other at-risk children, face greater challenges and often will have lower test scores, he said.

Karen Goeller, VCSC deputy superintendent, noted that West Vigo Elementary, which received an F this year, made the “exemplary” category (now labeled as an A) in 2010.

Davis Park Elementary made an A (or A equivalent) in three of the past five years. This year, it received a D.

“There is great inconsistency,” Goeller said.

The new system uses a growth model that compares academic peers.

West Vigo Elementary and Davis Park were hurt by “low growth,” in which students “did not make comparable growth to peers across the state,” Goeller said.

Both schools lost two points on a four-point scale as a result.

She noted that at West Vigo Elementary, 80.2 percent of the children meet poverty guidelines, compared to 45 percent statewide. Also, 30 percent of its children are special needs, compared to 14.4 percent statewide.

Goeller noted that this year, 23 out of 27 schools were in the top three categories, or 85.2 percent. Last year, 24 out of 29 schools were in the top three categories, or 82.7 percent. (Washington and McLean alternative schools were not counted this year).

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