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Dozen schools in city receive A’s

November 15, 2018

Over half of the public schools in Allen County earned A’s and B’s through the state’s accountability system this year, though the number of top-rated buildings fell by six, according to the annual A-to-F rankings the State Board of Education approved Wednesday.

Of the 12 schools receiving an A, four are in East Allen County Schools; two are in Fort Wayne Community Schools; and three are in each Northwest Allen County and Southwest Allen County schools.

The number of local failing public schools decreased by four, mirroring statewide results. Statewide, about 29 percent of schools received an A : similar to last year and up from 24 percent in 2015-16.

Thirty-five percent of schools statewide received a B; 20 percent a C; 9 percent a D; and 4 percent an F. A small number of schools did not receive a grade due to having too few students.

In comparison to last year, 40 fewer schools statewide ranked as failing.

Overall, 477 schools saw their grade improve while 445 saw their grade drop. The rest : 1,166 : received the same grade.

“Our current accountability grades are an indication of the great education Indiana students are receiving,” said Jennifer McCormick, Indiana superintendent of public instruction. “Our work is paying off and as a department we will continue to partner with dedicated stakeholders to ensure every school and every student is successful.”

Local educators, however, said they place little value in the grades. Southwest Allen encourages state lawmakers to work with schools to pass legislation that would lead to a better accountability system.

“The system is neither reliable nor does it accurately measure or reflect the learning happening in Indiana’s classrooms every day,” SACS Superintendent Phil Downs said in a statement.

In 1999, the General Assembly created a performance-based accountability system. The formula was changed in 2015, with improvement on the ISTEP+ test counting about the same as whether a student passes it.

Maggie Paino, director of accountability for the Indiana Department of Education, told the state board that many schools have been helped by growth points.

But some state board members were concerned that overall proficiency has remained stagnant.

“The whole concept is growth toward proficiency. So if we don’t have proficiency then what is the point?” member Tony Walker asked.

Paino also showed a comparison of traditional public schools versus public charters and private schools.

Almost 64 percent of traditional public schools received an A or B with charters at 39 percent and private schools 71 percent. About 14 percent of traditional public schools received a D or F; 27 percent of charters and 9 percent private schools.

In Allen County, about 57 percent of public schools got an A or B compared with about 74 percent of private schools. None of the county’s three charter schools received a grader higher than D.

Due to differences between federal and state accountability equations and standards, the state Department of Education also released federal accountability grades for the 2017-18 school year.

Roughly 67 percent of public schools received the same letter grade for both accountability systems, with 31 percent receiving a higher letter grade on the state accountability system. Differences in performance metrics between the two systems were the main factor for discrepancies for 33 percent of school letter grades.

For instance, students receiving a general diploma didn’t count in the federal graduation rate. And growth points are capped on the federal side.

Under the federal grades, about 38 percent of public schools in Allen County earned an A or B.

“These letter grades are not a focal point for Fort Wayne Community Schools, particularly now that two grades are given for each school and district,” according to a district statement. “Having two grades only serves to confuse parents about the quality of a school. We will continue to focus on making sure students are learning every day, and that they are prepared for life after graduation, whether they go on to college or into the workforce.”

nkelly@jg.net

asloboda@jg.net

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