As controversies over financial irregularities and low staff morale raged for Greencastle Community Schools in the 2011-12 school year, something positive was quietly happening.
The schools were getting better at educating students.
The Indiana Department of Education released its 2012 school academic performance grades for all Indiana schools Wednesday, and every Greencastle school improved on its 2011 score.
"I think it highly speaks of the caliber of staff, administrators, board members that even through all these challenges, the focus never left what the important thing was, and that was the academics," Greencastle Superintendent Dr. Lori Richmond told the Banner Graphic.
Greencastle High School, Tzouanakis Intermediate, Ridpath Primary and Deer Meadow all received A scores, up from a C for each of the four schools last year.
Greencastle Middle School received a C following four years of D scores.
"We are thrilled. There's a great deal of celebration going on around here," Richmond said.
Although it received the lowest score of the five buildings, the news was especially good for GMS following several years of low performance.
"Looking at the middle school, there were a lot of intentional changes, intentional focus, intentional analysis of data. And it made huge, huge growth and strides," Richmond said. "Had we had one additional student in one of the groups pass, the school's grade would have been a B."
However, with each of the other schools improving two letter grades, the effort across the corporation is worthy of note.
"It was a collective, group effort. From last August, we never stopped the focus, which was a challenge during the tumultuous year we had on other issues," Richmond said.
The three-year trend for the school corporation looks even brighter. Following the 2010 school year, each school in the district received a D rating except for the high school, which was given an F.
Observing the upward trend of the schools' scores, Richmond said the focus remains on getting better again for the coming year.
"No one is stopping or giving up. We know we will be even better next year. That's our job that we have to do," Richmond said.
Letter grades for schools are now based on student performance on state testing, demonstrated growth in student learning, graduation rates, and college and career readiness. Each school in the district receives a rating based on the performance data of the students in that building.