About 40 percent of schools in Porter and Lake counties graded “A”
By Matt Mikus email@example.com December 20, 2013 11:52PM
The 21st Century Charter School of Gary was graded a "D" school in scores released Friday. A school official disputed the grade. | Post-Tribune File Photo
This is how public high schools in Lake and Porter counties scored on the latest round of grades released Friday. The 2013 grade is first; the 2012 grade is in parentheses.
Hanover Central High School A (A)
River Forest Jr-Sr. High School D (C)
Merrillville High School A (A)
Lake Central High School A (A)
Lowell High School A (A)
Calumet High School C (C)
Crown Point High School A (A)
East Chicago Central D (D)
Thomas A Edison Jr-Sr High School D (C)
Lew Wallace, Gary F (F)
West Side, Gary F (F)
Wirt/Emerson, Gary D (D)
Griffith High School C (B)
George Rogers Clark High School D (D)
Donald E. Gavit Middle-High School D (D)
Hammond High School D (D)
Morton Senior High School D (C)
Highland High School A (A)
Hobart High School B (A)
Munster High School A (A)
Whiting High School A (A)
Hebron High School A (A)
Chesterton High School A (A)
Morgan Township Middle-High School B (A)
Kouts Middle-High School B (B)
Boone Grove High School A (B)
Wheeler High School A (A)
Portage High School A (A)
Valparaiso High School A (A)
A total of 77 schools in Porter and Lake counties received an “A” rankings for the 2012-2013 school year, a period marked by controversy over how the statewide grading system has been handled under former State Superintendent Tony Bennett.
Of 183 schools in Lake and Porter counties, 42 percent of received an “A” grade, 15 percent earned a “B,” 13 percent a “C,” 16 percent a “D” and 12 percent earned an “F.”
Gary Community Schools Corp. had 10 “F” rankings, two “A”s for Frankie McCullough Academy and Benjamin Banneker Achievement Center, a “C” for Glen Park Academy, and three “D”s for William A Wirt/ Emerson School for Visual Performing Arts, Bailly Preparatory Academy, and New Tech Innovative Institute.
Gary Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt said her administration will focus on providing more opportunities for students, including access to better technology and opportunities like Advanced Placement classes.
“We’re focusing on offering more enriched activities to help the students individual achievement,” Pruitt said.
She said Gary Community Schools is not interested in appealing the grades, but hopes Glenda Ritz, state superintendent of public instruction, can review the system in the future.
Merrillville Community Schools saw two middle schools drop one letter grade. Pierce Middle went from a “C” to a “D” in 2013, and Merrillville Intermediate went from a “B” to a “C.”
Henry P. Fieler Elementary jumped from a “D” to a “B,” and Homer Iddings Elementary went from a “D” to an “A.”
All other schools in Merrillville’s school corporation were graded “A.”
Superintendent of Merrillville Schools Dr. Mark Sperling said he was pleased with the grades for his schools.
“We know those areas where we need to work on,” Sperling said. “and we’re working towards increasing those grades but by and large we’re happy with the grades we got this round.”
School City of Hammond corporation received five “F” grades, 10 “D” grades, one “C” for Frank O’Bannon Elementary and three “B” grades: Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin elementary schools.
Lafayette Elementary received the corporation’s only “A” grade in 2013.
The Hobart school corporation saw all but one school drop one letter grade. Ridge View Elementary and Joan Martin Elementary dropped from a “B” to a “C”. Hobart High School and The Early Learning Center at George Earle each dropped from an “A” to a “B” and Hobart Middle School fell from “C” to “D” in a year. Only Liberty Elementary remained at the same “A” grade last year.
Four elementary schools in the East Chicago school corporation jumped to an “A” ranking: Benjamin Harrison was a B, Abraham Lincoln was a B, William McKinley was a D, and George Washington had an F in 2012.
In Porter County schools, The Duneland School Corporation saw increases in five of its schools grades. Brummitt Elementary, Liberty Elementary, and Newton Yost Elementary moved from a “C to an “A”, and Bailly Elementary moved from a “B” to an “A”. Chesterton Elementary went from a “D” to a “C”.
Westchester Intermediate School was the only school to decrease in the district, from achieving an “A” in 2012 to having a “C” this year.
Portage Township Schools had grades drop at six schools. Wallace Aylesworth Elementary, South Haven Elementary and Rowena Kyle Elementary dropped from “A” grades in 2012 to “B,” Willowcreek Middle School dropped from a “B” to a “C,” Central Elementary from a “C” to a “D” and Paul Saylor Elementary from a “B” to a “D.”
State Rep. Vernon Smith (D-Gary) sits on the House committee for education, and said the grading continues to ignore challenges that face urban schools.
“They continue to take money away from urban schools, and at the same time expect greater performance. That’s not going to happen,” Smith said. “We have to do better. But we can’t expect those schools to do better without some support.”
Kevin Teasley, the founder of the Greater Educational Opportunities Foundation that operates the 21st Century Charter School in Gary, was not happy with his school’s “D” grade.
In an email to the Post-Tribune, he complained the state did not give 21st Century credit for its 95-percent graduation rate or for the fact that 42 percent of the school’s graduates “earned a C or better on a college course. The school should have received an A in both categories which would have earned an overall grade of a C for the school. We appealed and have not received any explanation.”
Dr. Sperling criticized the grade manipulations in the past year, and said grading an entire school on a very limited scope with the ISTEP provides a limited metric.
“All schools should have the same rules apply to them, whether their a charter or public,” Sperling said, “and I think (Bennett) made those changes on a political reason and not an academic reason. That’s not right.”
The full spreadsheet of grades released by the Indiana Department of Education can be found at www.doe.in.gov/accountability/f-accountability.
Post-Tribune staff writer Teresa Auch Schultz and correspondent James D. Wolf Jr. contributed to this report.