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State puts out first rankings for schools

Even though the Harrison County schools have only been in session for, at most, a couple of weeks, they already know what they need to improve on from the last school year.
Starting this year, Indiana law requires schools to be placed into five categories based on the ISTEP exam given each September.
Following in the footsteps of the No Child Left Behind Act, Indiana enacted its own law, Public Law 221. The law, passed in 1999, aimed to establish major education reform and accountability statewide. To measure progress, the law places Indiana school corporations and schools into one of five categories based upon improvements and performance data from the ISTEP+ test.
The ratings, from highest to lowest, are exemplary progress, commendable progress, academic progress, academic watch and academic probation.
For example, if 90 percent of the students in a school pass the ISTEP, it’s ranked as an exemplary school. However, improvement counts too, so if only 50 percent pass and that’s an improvement of five percent, that school is exemplary. Also, a school that doesn’t meet the federal ‘adequate yearly progress’ requirement can only receive a ranking of ‘academic progress.’
Looking at the school corporations in Harrison County, schools in the Lanesville Community School Corp. received an exemplary rating. It’s two schools combined had more than 70 percent pass and more than a three-percent increase. The corporation received the rating since both schools were also exemplary, with the elementary school having more than 80 percent of its students passing, with a more than one-percent increase, and the high school having more than 70 percent pass, with a three-percent increase.
When Supt. Phil Partenheimer was asked how they achieved the ranking, he said, ‘It’s clearly the efforts of the teachers, the students, the parents and the direction of the principals. In that order.’
He added: ‘It’s quite a distinction for our staff, faculty, parents and our community. It shows we won’t be status quo.’
At North Harrison Community School Corp., the schools as a whole received academic watch, with more than 70 percent of the students passing but less than a one-percent increase.
Both of the elementary schools received an exemplary rating. Morgan Elementary had more than 80 percent of its students passing, a more than one-percent increase. North Harrison Elementary had more than 70 percent of its students passing and more than a three-percent increase.
The North Harrison Middle and High schools both received an academic watch, as each had more than 70 percent passing, but less than a one-percent increase.
Test coordinator and North Harrison Middle School Principal Jon Howerton is also proud of his staff.
‘The teachers work well with their students; they know the standards, and we do a good job of meeting them,’ Howerton said. He also realize that some students need more motivation than others.
‘The older the child gets, if they aren’t particularly interested in school and their test score, some just don’t really try, and we need to get them to realize that their score reflects not only themselves but the entire school.’
At South Harrison, the corporation received academic watch, having more than 70 percent pass but less than a one-percent increase.
Corydon Elementary and Corydon Intermediate were placed with exemplary progress, with both schools having more than 70 percent of the students pass, and more than a three-percent increase. Heth-Washington and New Middletown Elementary schools were the only two in the county to receive academic progress. Both had less than 60 percent pass and more than a two-percent increase.
Corydon Central High School and South Central Elementary received academic watch, having more than 60 percent pass and less than a two-percent increase.
Corydon Central Junior High and South Central Junior-Senior High schools received academic watch also. Each had more than 70 percent pass but less than a one-percent increase.
‘This communicates to the public how we are doing overall, and lets us see that there is more work to do,’ said Jeff Hauswald, South Harrison assistant superintendent. ‘We’ll be looking at each school individually ‘ the students and their needs ‘ and see what we can do to work on each school individually.’
More than 50 percent of the schools in Southern Indiana were placed on academic watch, and most of the time, elementary schools scored better than high schools in the same district.

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