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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Eight Putnam County schools go on watch list

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Eight Putnam County schools scored in the second lowest category in Indiana school accountability rates under Public Law 221 (P.L. 221) according to a report issued by Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Suellen Reed. Only one school, North Putnam High School reached the top "exemplary" category.

The 2007 report is five-tiered with the top rating being exemplary and the bottom tier being probation. The classifications are based on the same test scores used to determine whether a school makes yearly progress as required under the federal No Child Left Behind law. It looks mainly at the percentage of passing students, but the state rankings give credit to both high-performing schools making slow progress and low-performing schools that greatly improved.

P.L. 221 placements are based on the percentage of all students who pass the English and math ISTEP+ tests (averaged across subjects and grade levels) as well as improvement in passing percentage of students over time.

The second tier to the bottom is the "watch" category that has South Putnam High School, Greencastle High School, Greencastle Middle School, North Putnam Middle School, Fillmore, Reelsville and Bainbridge and Cloverdale Elementary Schools.

North Putnam High School rose from the watch category last year to exemplary gaining 5.9 percent.

Roachdale Elementary remained at "Commendable while Cloverdale High School and Middle Schools as well as Ridpath remained at Academic Progress.

Both Fillmore and Reelsville Elementary schools went from an exemplary to watch status. Reelsville had a percentage drop of 3.7 in the report. Greencastle High School, which was on the watch report last year, dropped an additional three points.

South Putnam Community School Superintendent Bruce Bernhardt sees the scores as being cyclical as a different group of student scores are used each year. He also understands that statistics make a difference.

"When you have smaller populations of students in a classroom than one or two students scores can make a big difference," he stated.

"From a statistical viewpoint, if you compare the third grade at Fillmore Elementary which has about 20 third-graders to a school like Tzouanakis which has over 120 students, the numbers will vary because of the total number of students," Bernhardt said.

When asked if the practice of mainstreaming special education students has an impact on test scores, Bernhardt replied that it is an area where schools struggle to meet the required scores.

"There is more going on in the classroom with a wide range of students, that can make it more difficult," he remarked. "Anything that can disrupt or distract students in a classroom has an effect."

"Mainstreaming is cyclical. And it is a federal mandated. For about 20 years now, people much higher up than I am, made the decision that it is better for special education kids to be in the classroom. Prior to that kids were pulled out and taught separately, tomorrow it could change again," said Berhnardt.

He added that teachers and administrators all over the state are looking at the areas where students scored high and low.

"We always know we can do better and we are not ever happy with the scores but we feel like we are on the right path," concluded Bernhardt.

Tzouanakis Intermediate School dropped from Exemplary to academic progress, as did Deer Meadow Primary School. Ridpath remained the same at academic progress, which is the second highest ranking.

Greencastle Community School Corporation Superintendent Bob Green agreed with Bernhardt's assessment of scores being taken from a very small percentage of the student population.

"The report looks at a subgroup which is a very small part of the school as a whole. If that group does not show enough progress than the whole school is affected," he told the BannerGraphic.

Green added that he was not in total agreement with the No Child Left Behind Federal mandate.

"It's unfair to the total school population. Each year you get a new group with kids that are not all the same. There are many differences and kids learn in so many different ways. But the mandate expects each group to be consistent and that's just not always so. Students learn in different ways. I don't mind being measured but let's be realistic when measuring," stated Green.

He went on to report that three years ago Ridpath Elementary received a watch rating. The school group that was supposedly used for the rating test was never tested.

"We questioned the state but didn't receive any change," added Green.

When asked how Inclusion (the federal mandate to mainstream special education students) affects the school ratings, Green stated, "Inclusion across the board is mandated but it does create some tension and some problems. Overall, it doesn't hurt us. But it is hard to deliver services and we put a lot of effort into training staff to work with the No Child Left Behind mandate."

According to Reed's report, Indiana saw improvements in category placements of 21 percent of schools moving into the higher categories, 55 percent remaining the same and 23 percent dropping to a lower category.

By school type, more high schools (34 percent) ranked in the top three categories compared to last year (26 percent). Slightly more middle schools (34 percent) ranked in the top three categories compared to last year (33 percent). A total of 70 percent of elementary schools placed in the top three categories, a slight decline (2 percent) compared to last year.

"Indiana schools are making important gains in some areas, but progress still remains to be seen in others," said Reed. "Focusing our efforts where the need is greatest is essential, and that requires distinguishing between those schools that are just missing the mark versus those that are struggling across the board."

County superintendents who spoke to the BannerGraphic agree that progress is still needed and that local schools are working hard on improving all their scores.

"To put everyone into one box as far as delivery of instruction, may not be the best. Basically, we measure our success by how much an individual student improves each year. We don't put on an arbitrary goal. But still we are scored by PL 221 and No Child Left Behind," said Green.

"We have good schools and we have good teachers and we are working very hard with all students to help them be the best they can be," concluded Green.

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Supt. Green says that children learn different ways. Then, the teachers should be teaching those "different ways". Good for North Putnam High School! Too bad the rest of the High Schools aren't up to the standard set by North Putnam. The Public (Government) schools aren't getting the job done. This article should get a lot of comments by teachers and administrators of the government schools complaining about "No Child Left Behind" and how it negatively affects their test scores. You want to work for the government, you play by the government's rules. Do your jobs!

-- Posted by not gullible on Wed, Apr 16, 2008, at 8:31 AM

In response to not gullible....wow...'Do your jobs!'??? That statement right there shows how unsupportive you are of our teachers and administrators. It shows how ignorant you are about the whole situation. You totally do not understand. These men and woman are doing what they can under the guidelines they are given. There is only so much they can do. These people care about our children and are under paid. It is up to us as parents to help our children at home as well. I am still in total shock of your comment. I can probably bet you are one of those parents that don't work with their child when they get home from school.

Each year, each school is faced with the challange of a different batch of kids. Last year's testing will affect this year's school kids. Last year's kids could have had low math scores and this year's kids may need to work more on english. Hmmm...something to think about!

-- Posted by Sunflowermel on Wed, Apr 16, 2008, at 1:34 PM

Putnam Co. Wake up and Stop trying to keep up with the Jones. Reading , writing, and math are more important. drive by the school parking lot, you can see what I mean. You cant buy good grades

-- Posted by victory on Wed, Apr 16, 2008, at 2:29 PM

Here we go again blaming parents for their childrens grades. I know lets try and teach the children at school instead of sending so much homework home. Yes it is up to the parents also, but you don't hear the parents crying about not getting paid enough . Maybe the teachers should take a test yearly like our children do. If the teachers can't pass how do we expect our children to. The school has our children for 8 hours. They know what to teach our children , It's not like a suprise subject.

-- Posted by victory on Wed, Apr 16, 2008, at 2:35 PM

True, the teachers are with your children much of the day but the responsibility of the parent never stops. We, as parents, have the responsibility to send our 5 year olds to school with a love for learning, thirst for knowledge and the respect for teachers and fellow classmates and the continued responsibility to nourish and enforce these ideals. Think how much real learning could go on if these same teachers could just teach and not have to be parent, disciplinarian, referee, social worker, and the list goes on. As for teachers being underpaid, this is the profession they chose and I am sure through their college days they were made aware of what the profession paid. If this is the choice they made than the only one they have to blame is themselves. Salaries divided by 185 days a year isn't really that bad.

-- Posted by aok on Wed, Apr 16, 2008, at 4:28 PM

To sonicfilter: I respect anyone who homeschools their children. However, I do not feel that everyone is qualified to do so. Not to point fingers, but as I read your post, I find numerous errors in grammar and syntax, not to mention that the opinion you teach your children is just that - your own. We should teach diversity. While your intentions may be good, perhaps you are not the best qualified person to teach your own children. Your children may learn more material, but they may not be learning it correctly. Many parents work full-time jobs and do not have the time that it takes to homeschool their children. Our teachers spend years in college to prepare to teach our children well. There are a variety of reasons why our children seem to be "undereducated." For one thing, they are harder to teach. Discipline has been taken out of the schools, this generation of parents differs greatly from the previous, and children just simply seem to lack the same amount of integrity that our parents had as children. There is no single problem - there are multiple problems. What does that mean? There is no single solution - there must be multiple solutions to the multiple problems. They need to be addressed one-by-one until our children are getting the education they need. The problems and distractions need to be resolved so that our teachers can actually TEACH.

-- Posted by MarilynMonroe on Wed, Apr 16, 2008, at 5:30 PM

sonicfilter, don't be intimidated by a teachers critique of your comments. Especially one who chooses a screen name that idolizes a promiscious pop icon. Like Sunflower stated, these public teachers are teaching under the guidelines they are given. You are free to teach your opinion to your children if you want to, and you are free to debunk any agenda you like!

-- Posted by Xgamer on Wed, Apr 16, 2008, at 9:07 PM

Here is my correction, "promiscuous pop icon".

-- Posted by Xgamer on Wed, Apr 16, 2008, at 9:24 PM

This "No Child Left Behind" has been such a mess. There has not been a fair or accurate way of assessing test scores among the different learning abilities of children. The integration of students with a variety of learning abilities has been a failure. The kids with average ability are hindered, the kids with above average ability are bored. The kids with below average ability can easily slip through the cracks of the educational system. Which of these scenerios serves the greater good? Victory wants the parents to not be blamed, wants the kids to have less homework and wants the teachers to "just do their job" for 8 hours a day. Apparently, Victory has no clue that the integration prohibits this. For example, extra time has to be spent with the below average students, like the autistic, emotionally handicapped, etc. This takes time away from the class as a whole. It is up to the rest of the kids to study on their own. Some kids will take the initiative, some won't- they would just rather take the work home. Guess what Victory? That's the kid electing to do that, not the teacher! All in all, "No Child Left Behind" is a great idea, however, it isn't feasible through integration. Kids still need to be grouped together according to learning ability, there is no shame in that. That way they can have a teacher that is trained to teach to their needs, many of these mainstream teachers are not and the gov't won't pay to get them certified. It's a no-win situation for everyone, especially the children, which is the saddest of all.

-- Posted by RedHot on Thu, Apr 17, 2008, at 3:38 AM

Well put Red, the "No Child left Behind" act is just that, an act. An administration's tactic to show concern for our childrens well being while other ideals are carried out. The Engish teacher expressed a huge problem of no discipline in the system, a problem that has snowballed for 40 years or more.

Home schooling is a much better alternative, but in today's society, it is common for a household to require 2 incomes to support a family. This also contributes to the "lack of discipline" problem. Combine this with peer pressure and an overwhelming media assault of senseless drama and yes, we have a real problem of educating our kids. Definitely a no-win situation for us as a nation.

-- Posted by Xgamer on Thu, Apr 17, 2008, at 5:36 AM

Bondsman, so you don't think our children should be diverse - distinct from one another, yet being able to accept another's uniqueness? Yes, children of ALL generations need love, respect, kindness, and should be taught integrity, good morals and a good work ethic from their parents. Unfortunately, there are a great number of parents who are unable or unwilling to provide these things to their children. Due to these sad situations, the educators have attempted to provide these children the things they need most. A child should be raised by the parents - in the home. Education is an ongoing event that includes teachers and involves family as well. Children should always be held accountable for their actions. You greatly misunderstood my post, or perhaps I misstated what I intended to say. The bottom line is that parents are placing too much responsibility on the teachers; they are wanting them to do far more than teach. But if you send a child home with homework and it requires effort on the parent's part, you can bet that doesn't always go over too well. The Indiana Department of Education needs to evaluate other states that have better educational systems and do a little learning of their own.

And for what it's worth... I don't believe Marilyn Monroe was promiscuous. She was beautiful and naive and those two things led to her untimely and tragic death.

-- Posted by MarilynMonroe on Thu, Apr 17, 2008, at 3:26 PM

Norma Jean,educators do not need to attempt to do anything but teach the subject of the class they sit in. Teachers should never decide what a child needs most, and especially any teachers who idolize any pop icons. If any parent feels that they have the power to place responsibility on teachers, then the parent is out of line and that is a seperate issue to deal with. A lot of comments here are sympathetic with teachers and don't expect them to be anything more than teachers.

sonicfilter has the right idea if he/she isn't happy with the public education, then home school. You yourself are not happy with I.D.E. and we agree with you. You also listed many problems in the public classroom and we agree with that too. These are only more reasons to consider home school and just because we don't have perfect grammer and syntax, doesn't mean we can't do as good as the public school system, and we certainly don't need our opinions judged by the likes of you. Many teachers partied through college and still got their degree without learning to teach correctly. Perhaps those people would welcome your criticism.

-- Posted by Xgamer on Thu, Apr 17, 2008, at 7:57 PM

Heh. Homework. As though that was supposed to somehow help me learn something. Teachers werealways far to willing to give you a worksheet instead of actualyl teaching you something.

It has been my experience that homsechooled chidlren turn out to be respectful and well grounded individuals. Most of the crap I learned in Public schools mean squat for what I do today. Heck most of the stuff I learned in Colledge also mean squat.

Frankly this facinasion with proper grammer just goes to show how out of touch with reality teachers really are. If you understood what was said then the purpose of communication has been fullfilled. Tt really doesnt matter if somone made a typo, spelled a word wrong, or put a period in the wrong place.

-- Posted by Inquizitor on Sat, Apr 19, 2008, at 8:20 PM

"Most of the crap I learned in Public schools mean squat for what I do today. Heck most of the stuff I learned in Colledge also mean squat."

This cracks me up.

-- Posted by natelien on Mon, Apr 21, 2008, at 8:32 AM

Xgamer, once again, you've misunderstood my post. I spoke not as a teacher, but as a PARENT. Yes, I teach my child diversity. And you wrongfully assumed that when I say that teachers have attempted to provide children with things they need (outside of education - love, respect, kindness, tenderness, etc) it is because they see that it is missing at home and some of these children are abused and/or neglected.I know of a child that was badly abused at home. A teacher befriended that child and provided a safe haven for her. The child needed an adult to make her feel safe and to let her know she was worthwhile. She didn't have to - she wanted to. They are compassionate teachers - they are human. Finally, I am NOT a teacher by profession and even if I were, you are the simple-minded person who would judge my worth as an educator based on a screen name. Go back to your XBOX then and create and live in an alternative and perfect world that is unrealistic.

-- Posted by MarilynMonroe on Mon, Apr 21, 2008, at 4:19 PM

Public schools have always been a hotbed of controversy. The comments about the story reported by Maribeth are proof of that. it's no secret that teachers have an incredible challenge to simply teach our children anything at all. Our schools have also been a dumping ground for parents to unload their troubled kids for about 6 hrs a day, and then blame the schools for any problems the kids have. Add problems like these, and growing political interference, our public schools aren't the best atmosphere for all children.

Having said that, Marilyn, your initial judgement of "sonicfilter's" capability to home school is what sparked any judgement by me about your comments. Perhaps you should partner up with CdaleResident, true grit, gingb, and linnie and flood the comment boxes with more insults and blame to all who you disagree with, then find a way to have our schools problems to be the fault of the Whitadaviduo.

Goodbye Norma Jean, though I don't know you at all, you have the grace to hold yourself while those around you crawl. And it seems to me, you live your life, like a candle in the wind, never knowing who to cling to when the rain sets in. And I would like to know you, but I am just a kid. Don't let your candle burn out before your legend does.

-- Posted by Xgamer on Tue, Apr 22, 2008, at 5:57 AM


The kids learn more in home school? Sure.. everything excluding how to interact socially with different types of people. How to handle peer pressure and say no, and how to stick to their morals when they get out in the real world. 80% of kids become morally corrupt and brainwashed by the time they reach college.

How can your kids learn about the good and the bad side of people, when they are staying at home? How can they discern for themselves what is right and what is wrong, when they have no idea what either look like in the realms of their society? How will they be able to form their defense mechanisms and morals and put them to use, when they are staying at home?

Sure some of this can come from normally living outside of your walls...but most of it, MOST of it comes from going to public or private schools and having those interactions with kids their own age. You might be saving your kids from "the agenda of right-wing morons" but I believe you are robbing them of so much more and setting them up for an identity crisis when they get to college..should they decide to go.

-- Posted by novajames on Tue, Apr 22, 2008, at 12:17 PM

nova, I have yet to meet a family who homeschools their kids, keep them out of the public realm. Your theory of hiding them from society is a good one, but the only people I have yet to see do this is the cult in Texas in the spotlight now. Homeschooling is still a great alternative to public schools, but not easy to achieve.

-- Posted by Xgamer on Tue, Apr 22, 2008, at 2:40 PM

xgamer - you should have quit after your post on Thu, Apr 17, 2008, at 5:36 AM which was a well thought out comment. Then you started the down hill slide.......

As Woody Guthrie would say maybe you should "Get Along Little Doggy".

-- Posted by gingb2 on Wed, Apr 23, 2008, at 9:45 PM

gingerbread2, what no comment on Maribeth's story? I guess you can't compare today's school's problems with your education from a one room school shed. Still have that 6th grade diploma written on tree bark? Next time you're at T's getting a Marge Simpson beehive, ask the "girls" to update you on this topic.

-- Posted by Xgamer on Thu, Apr 24, 2008, at 5:57 AM

My goodness xgamer, ouch, When I stated your post on the Maribeth story was a well thought out comment, I completely overlooked your 5 years in high school not being able to cipher I was not going to re-state what you posted. Don't hate me because I was able to get in 9 years what took you I'm sure at least 13. I was fortunate to earn my schooling before the government stepped in with programs such as No child left behind. I typed this slowly since you cannot read very fast with that extended education you possess. The article itself clearly mirrors the education process these days, a lot of opinions but no knowledge of what needs to be done. As Woody Guthrie would say "get along little puppy" (modified just for you).

-- Posted by gingb2 on Thu, Apr 24, 2008, at 9:41 PM

We homeschool, and our kids get plenty of social interaction. You see, the homeschool community is organized. We have field trips, organized classes from time to time, and social gatherings too. At these gatherings, kids from preschool through high school play together. So far, I have been witness to no fights, no arguments, and not one bloody nose. These kids are polite, bright and respectful. Now, please tell me again where I'll find well-adjusted kids.

We sacrifice a great deal to do this. We live on a single income. We don't drive new cars. We live in a humble home, and we don't take extravagant vacations. However, we get one shot at preparing our kids to face the world. I know mine will be ready because we're teaching them to be ready.

To be sure, we continually suffer fools who know nothing but ignorance regarding homeschool. I find the rather dubious argument of "Socialization" nothing more than an excuse to relinquish responsibility to a government school.

Regarding public school agenda. Some people need to learn their left from right. If your kids are subject to anti-gun hysteria, and environmental alarmism it's a good bet the agenda is coming from the left.

A very disturbing scheme has developed over the past few years. Public schools count heads for funding, and then throw the lowest performers out before standardized testing. This way the schools get their fair share of your money, and the test scores increase for even more of your money. We call them unintended or forced homeschoolers, and we see them every year right before testing. The lack of press coverage on this issue is appalling. Now, tell me again how much the system loves and cares about your kids.

-- Posted by VonMises on Thu, Apr 24, 2008, at 9:59 PM

VonMises, where have you been throughout all these posts? Well put!! Not only do I applaud you, I offer a standing ovation as well.

I hope sonicfilter, MarilynMonroe, Inquizitor, and novajames are still keeping tabs on the comments of this story and read what you have to say. The greatest fact in your comment is "we get one shot at preparing our kids for the world." Although there may be great teachers in public schools, I believe the public systems are flawed enough to hinder their efforts. That "one shot" is quite a gamble in our public schools.

gingb2, I thought your comment was one of your digs you lay on some of your "friends" who post here. Forgive me for my immature ranting as I sometimes suffer Mt Dew withdrawl. As far as opinions and knowledge of what needs to be done, our public schools are systems that are not capable of benefitting all kids at once. This is why I think that homeschool is such a better alternative and VonMises has accomplished what it takes to do such a task.

-- Posted by Xgamer on Fri, Apr 25, 2008, at 5:35 AM

Public schools are still filled with a lot of hard-working, good kids and many caring, nurturing, morally grounded, learned professionals. However, public schools may no longer be the best choice for everyone. Forget the reasons why some choose to homeschool, getting the education is what is most important here. Our community as a whole does not see the value in education or a life-long pursuit of knowledge and growth. Individual families pass on this expectation whether through public instruction or homeschool. Those who doubt or deny the need for life-long learning are doomed to repeat a pattern of distrust and/or fear of any type of schooling. These are the ones who truly get "left behind." Public schools still work for many, homeschool fills in some of the cracks, but a rapidly growing percentage of our student population who refuse to try in either setting are a concern that we all must share. God Bless!

-- Posted by CitizenKid on Fri, Apr 25, 2008, at 10:12 PM

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