Reading1

Grace Tyler and Luke Lehman take advantage of the many books available to them in Mandy Taulman’s sixth-grade classroom at Tri-County Intermediate.

RENSSELAER — When it comes to federal accountability in education, Jasper County schools mostly hit the mark.

The Indiana Department of Education on Friday released the Federal School Accountability Ratings for the 2018-2019 academic year. The department says more than 56 percent of Hoosier high schools and 53 percent of elementary and middle schools received a “Meets Expectations” or “Exceeds Expectations” rating.

There are four indicators by which schools are rated: exceeds expectations, meets expectations, approaches expectations and does not meet expectations. White County’s public schools either “meet” or “approach” federal accountability standards.

“These indicator ratings reflect performance with respect to performance goals for the state,” Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick said. “Point thresholds were set to reflect how a school is performing in relation to these long-term performance goals. In order to determine these thresholds, the department used state-level data from the 2018-19 school year as the baseline for which the cuts would be set.”

Schools meeting expectations include Kankakee Valley intermediate and high schools, and DeMotte and Wheatfield elementary schools, along with Rensselaer Central primary and high schools, and Van Rensselaer Elementary School. Schools listed as “approaching expectations” include Kankakee Valley and Rensselaer middle schools.

A school received an overall, summative rating based on weight points for the following indicators: academic achievement, academic progress, closing achievement gaps, graduation rate, English language proficiency, strength of diploma and addressing chronic absenteeism.

For elementary and middle schools, the school must have between 92 and 138.05 points to have an “exceeds expectations” rating; 62 and 91.99 points to have a “meets expectations” rating; 41 and 61.99 points to have an “approaches expectations” rating; and between 0 and 40.99 points to have a “does not meet expectations” ratings.

For high schools, the schools needs between 93 and 122.8 points to have an “exceeds expectations” rating; between 71 and 92.99 points to have a “meets expectations” rating; between 54 and 71.99 points to have an “approaches expectations” rating; and between 0 and 53.99 points to have a “does not meet expectations” rating.

Exact ratings for each of the schools could not be discerned from the data provided by the IDOE.

This is the second year Indiana schools are being assessed under two accountability systems, due to differences between federal and state accountability requirements. However, an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education allows Indiana schools to receive federal accountability ratings, instead of federal accountability grades.

“As the purpose of the federal accountability system is to provide actionable data that is accessible and aligned to long-term policy goals for student achievement, this change will also allow for a better understanding of the system as a tool to more accurately measure achievement and provide motivated progress towards success, as opposed to it simply becoming a punitive mark,” the IDOE said in a news release.

McCormick said it is important the state develop a single, modernized, state-legislated accountability system that is “fair, accurate, and transparent.”

The State Board of Education adopted a resolution in September to delay the release of school grades until after the Indiana General Assembly has time to take action to hold schools harmless, which may occur when the Legislature resumes this month. They will also likely explore ways to detach the test results from teacher evaluations.

In October, legislators announced a plan to develop a “hold harmless” policy in an effort to prevent schools’ grades from being affected by the results of the first ILEARN exam, which showed a sharp decline in the number of students who passed — including all schools in Jasper County.

Because of the Christmas and New Year’s break, schools officials could not be reached for comment.