Schools receive grades for previous year

Friday, January 24, 2014

Grades for the school corporations have finally been released. These grades are a reflection of several different factors in the school corporations, including graduation rates and ISTEP scores.

The report cards for the South Putnam Community School Corporation and the Cloverdale Community School Corporation arrived this week, with both schools receiving a "C" from the Indiana Department of Education.

The grade means different things for the corporations as Cloverdale actually improved, while South Putnam took a step back.

The grades are a combination of the individual school grades that were released by the Indiana Department of Education at the end of December.

Cloverdale Superintendent Carrie Milner said the district rose .47 percent on a four-point scale.

"All of our schools went up and we're thrilled," Milner said. "We're especially proud of our elementary, which got a perfect four (up from a 'C' in 2012). We've had some good progress."

Both Cloverdale High School and Cloverdale Middle received "C" grades this year, which had not changed from 2012.

Milner also noted that they're going to maintain course and with the goal of continued improvement each year.

Meanwhile, South Putnam took a major step back going from an "A" grade in 2012 with 3.85 points down to a "C" with 2.81 points in 2013.

"Last year we were at an 'A' and it dropped to a 'C' this year," South Putnam Superintendent Bruce Bernhardt said. "The issue that cost the corporation grade was the grade of the middle school (which received a 'D'). That dropped the whole corporation to a 'C.'"

Bernhardt noted that the high school remained at an "A" level, while both Central Elementary and Fillmore Elementary received a "B."

"Mr. Puckett, the principal, is working very hard at doing professional development with the middle school staff and providing remediation," Bernhardt said. "Their plan is to get better and do a better job. This is the first year that we've had scores from just the middle school. We've had some growing pains that we had to look at."

According to Bernhardt, although the corporation's I-STEP scores of the percentage of students passed were among the highest in the area, it was the growth that did not equal to what the state thought it should be.

"The language arts scores were the lower ones," Bernhardt said. "That's what really lowered that grade. They're working really hard and focusing efforts on remediation for those students (who didn't pass)."

Although, the grades meant different things for both corporations, each will maintain the common goal of continuing to improve in the years to come.

North Putnam School Corporation also received a "C" as its overall score, and Greencastle ranked the highest out of the county with a "B" grade.

While still maintaining its "C" grade from last year, there was improvement from some schools in the North Putnam school district. North Putnam High School maintained its "A" grade, while Roachdale Elementary raised its grade to an "A" as well. These two "A's" were still not enough to make up for the "D" at North Putnam Middle School and the "C" at Bainbridge Elementary.

The "D" at the middle school was met with a great amount of concern because this is the second consecutive year that the middle school has received this rating.

North Putnam Community Schools Superintendent Dan Noel called a meeting to discuss with the community what this grade could mean in the future and what can be done to help boost it.

"The middle school needs to improve a full letter grade to be ok," Noel said. "We need to build a solid plan on what the kids are and aren't getting (education wise)."

If the middle school grade does not improve there is a chance that state could take control of the school.

While there is a direct emphasis on what can be done at North Putnam Middle School, sight has not been lost on the other three schools.

Noel stated that during interviews for a new principal next year at Bainbridge Elementary one question keeps coming up.

"We (Noel and school board members) are all asking how are you (the candidate) going to make Bainbridge an 'A' school," Noel said.

While this is going on Noel is also looking at how Roachdale Elementary and North Putnam High School can maintain their "A" standings, and see if some of the habits of these schools can be translated to "A" grades for the middle school and Bainbridge Elementary.

Out of all four school corporations in the county Greencastle Community School Corporation ranked the highest with an overall "B" average between the five schools.

Ridpath and Deer Meadow primary schools received "A" grades along with Tzouanakis Intermediate, Greencastle Middle School received a "C" and Greencastle High School received a "B".

Greencastle Community Schools Superintendent Dawn Puckett was happy the corporation received the "B" grade.

"The students work very hard at Greencastle schools," Puckett said. "And I know that they do the same at the others."

While the middle school was the lowest grade for the corporation, it has improved since its "D" grade last year. Puckett believed that the change in grade was a reflection of extensive restructuring at the middle school and the use of programs that have been put into place to help children in areas they struggle in.

The Greencastle School Board recently approved the start of after school tutoring, which Puckett believes will be an asset in further improving grades for the school and corporation

All of the school corporations in Putnam County continue to try and improve the grades of the schools in each corporation and as ISTEP testing comes closer, teachers and administration continue to look for ways to help those that are struggling.

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