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Local public schools have received their grades from the state and, while the criteria used by the state for this evaluation have been much criticized, the Monroe County Community School Corporation is quite pleased with the results. The district received an A rating as a whole. Janice Berguson is Director of Secondary School for MCCSC, with responsibility for overseeing the school district’s response to the grades. She provides a breakdown of the individual school grades this year as well as last year’s in comparison.
Last year’s two F’s were given to Fairview and Highland Park elementary schools. This year Highland Park got a B while Fairview got another F, for the third year in a row. Following Fairview’s second F, the school’s administrators announced to the students that teachers, classes and programs would be substantially changed. When the parents found out, many responded by demanding cancellation of these changes and asked to be involved in developing any reform plans. This was followed by the appointment of a new principal from the Indianapolis school system. Berguson explains Fairview’s current track upon receiving yet another failing grade.
The state grading of schools is based on the collective summary of the performance of all the students in each school on the state mandated and administered ISTEP examinations. ISTEP exams are given to students each Spring. All students in grades 3 through 8 plus high school sophomores complete tests on-line in language arts and math. Additionally, students in grades 4 and 6 are tested in science, and students in grades 5 and 7 are tested in social studies. The test consists of two components: a written test, usually in March, and a multiple-choice test over the same subjects in April. Students are graded “did not pass”, “pass”, or “pass plus.” The cumulative results for particular schools are to be used by school administrators in determining pay, promotion, demotion and termination of teachers. The system has been controversial, with members of both political parties speaking out against it. The high stakes nature of the school evaluation process, the very narrow range of ISTEP indicators have been the source of criticism of both ISTEP and the A to F school grading program from educators, parents and experts on student evaluation.