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Hobart Schools celebrate achievment

Written by Mike Siroky. Posted in Featured

Published on February 08, 2012 with No Comments

 The message board at every Hobart school proudly announced the news.

“The School City of Hobart is an Exemplary (A) School District!  Congratulations to our students and faculty for their high achievement and success!”

In the classroom earning an “A” means a job well done.  For Hobart, it means the school corporation hit 27 of 27 benchmarks set by the state. Additionally, the majority of the schools in the corporation also earned the exemplary status on an individual basis.

According to Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett, this is the highest ranking the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) can award.  The rating is determined by student performance and improvement data from the Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress Plus (ISTEP+) and end of course assessments.

“It proves high expectations and strong accountability deliver results for Indiana’s students,” said Bennett. “Educators should be tremendously proud of the vital role they played in driving elevated results.”

And they are.

Both Ridge View and Liberty elementary schools, as well as Hobart High School (HHS), earned individual “A” ratings from the state.

“I am very, very proud of these kids, our students at Ridge View. They work very hard and so do my teachers,” said Principal Mary Beth Ginalski.  “Our poverty rate is 79 percent. Usually those schools struggle. We don’t.  We have always had success and that comes back to the students and teachers.”

Echoing Ginalski’s comments is Liberty Principal Debbie Misecko.

“At Liberty we have teachers and students who really work hard and it is exciting to receive a rating which reflects their hard work,” she said.  “As a principal, really it’s nice to see that effort reflected.”

 “We’re very proud to be a four-star school,”  HHS Principal David Spitzer said.  “It confirms both students and faculty are achieving their goals.”

Statewide more than half of the school districts do not achieve the exemplary mark, which puts Hobart in the elite of all schools.

    As Hobart School Superintendent Dr. Peggy Buffington said, “We hope for our families to have health, happiness and the love of learning.”

The IDOE continues to work under Bennett’s direction with local stakeholders to generate improvements.  It is also a priority for the U.S. Department of Education, he said.

This is the first time Indiana’s schools received letter grades. These grades were accompanied by the traditional rankings schools have received since Indiana implemented its comprehensive accountability system for kindergarten through 12th grade in 1999.

 The five letter grades assigned to schools align with the five placement categories traditionally given to schools. The switch to letter grades aims to increase transparency and engagement in school communities.

“Parents, educators and students deserve an accountability system that is clear and transparent,” Bennett said. “Communities should have the opportunity to celebrate their ‘A’ schools and reward their educators for driving academic growth. Our best schools are a source of pride that I hope will inspire efforts across the state.”

The Indiana State Board of Education (SBOE) has initiated a rulemaking process to update the metrics used to calculate rankings.

The new system, starting with the 2012-13 school year, will continue A-F grades and incorporate new ways to measure student growth and achievement, such as Indiana’s Growth Model. The IDOE will provide updates on this process as it moves forward.

Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) scores were also released for schools statewide. Overall, 51 percent of schools made AYP in 2011.

Schools not making AYP for two years consecutive years can receive no higher than a “C” or “Academic Progress” ranking, even where a school has raised scores enough to earn a higher rating by state measures. The SBOE has indicated it will likely remove the AYP cap from future accountability metrics

Beginning with the 2002-03 school year, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act required schools to show annual improvements in the academic achievement of the overall student population and of identified student subgroups within the general population, including economic background, race and ethnicity, limited English proficiency and special education.

Under NCLB, AYP designations for Indiana school corporations and schools are determined by student achievement and participation rates on ISTEP+ in English/language arts and mathematics, student attendance rates (for elementary and middle schools), and high school graduation rates (for high schools). Schools must make AYP in all student groups in order to meet AYP.

For more information on School City of Hobart, visit hobart.schoolwires.com.

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About Mike Siroky

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All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed in the above excellent column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Mike Siroky is a writer and editor. He is a native of Northwest Indiana. He has worked in media from coast to coast. To contact Mike, email mikel@the chronicleNWI.com

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