"Today we are celebrating a championship," said Bennett. "We are here today to recognize inspiring teachers."
Central Elementary was recognized for having achieving excellence in mathematics. The school showed the third largest percentage of growth of all school in the state, coming in at 76.70 percent of students achieving high growth.
The percentages for academic growth were determined using the Indiana Growth Model, which measures how much students learn in each content area over the course of a year.
Rather than measuring students based on ISTEP+ testing, the model measures the student's progress over the course of a year. It is a model based on the belief that every student deserves a year of academic growth in a year of instruction.
"The Growth Model is truly a game-changer that has transformed education in Indiana," Bennett said. "The model has improved the way the state measures student and school progress by looking beyond test scores. At the local level, the Growth Model lets teachers and school leaders tailor instruction to push all students to meet their full potential."
Students are divided into "peer groups," which are made up of other students in the same grade who achieved the exact same score on the pervious years ISTEP+ exam. Students' scores are then compared to each other's in his or her group on the next ISTEP+ exam, which then calculates a "student growth percentile."
"Success is to be applauded," explained Bennett. "It should be recognized."
The three percentiles used to determine the rate of growth are High, which is at or above the 66th percentile; Typical, which is at or between the 35th and 65th percentile; and Low, which is up to and including the 34th percentile.
Currently, the Growth Model measures growth in mathematics and languages arts for students in grades four though eight.
"Every school here today is proving that all students are capable of academic growth -- no matter their gifts, limitations or knowledge attained before entering the classroom," Bennett said. "It's an honor to distinguish these educators who are pushing students to reach their highest academic potential.
"For the first time in Indiana's history, our school accountability system is aligned to the measures that tell us most about schools' ability to prepare students for success -- like learning growth, skill proficiency, graduating from high school and providing challenge instruction," Bennett said. "Incorporating new tools like the Growth Model lets us recognize more great schools, like the ones here today, for their work with Indiana's students."
As Central Elementary was awarded for its excellence, several teachers made the trip to receive the award in person, a reward for their hard work.
"This is award is the result of the hard work and efforts of the students, staff, families and community of Central Elementary," said Principal Debbie Steffy.
The staff agreed, the award was the result of not only the hard work of their students, but having more focused and individualized teaching
"We all worked together in the best interest of the kids. I think we've always done really well and we're doing a good job of putting the kids where they need to be," teacher Betty McGill said. "We have good teachers, good parents and good students. The kids have worked very hard and I can see a difference."
This was the second year the Indiana Department of Education recognized high-growth schools. Central Elementary's scores were not only compared with all elementary schools in the state but with all levels of education ranging from elementary to high school.