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School district grades released

Third-graders Jaclyn Wise's class are shown last year Northview Elementary School Valparaiso. The school has performed well Indiana's I-READ test

Third-graders in Jaclyn Wise's class are shown last year at Northview Elementary School in Valparaiso. The school has performed well on Indiana's I-READ test and the Valparaison Community Schools district scored an "A" on state grades announced Wednesday.

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2013 state
accountability grades

Lake County 2013 2012

Hanover Community C C

River Forest Community D C

Merrillville Community B B

Lake Central School Corp. A A

Tri-Creek School Corp. B B

Lake Ridge Schools Lake C D

Crown Point Community A A

School City of East Chicago F F

Lake Station Community C B

Gary Community F F

Griffith Public Schools C B

School City of Hammond D F

School Town of Highland B B

School City of Hobart B B

School Town of Munster A A

Whiting School City B B

Porter County 2013 2012

MSD Boone Township A B

Duneland School Corp. B B

East Porter County A A

Porter Township A B

Union Township A A

Portage Township C A

Valparaiso Community A A

Source: Indiana
Department of Education

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Updated: February 17, 2014 8:15AM



The State Board of Education approved final grades Wednesday morning for hundreds of school districts across the state.

In Lake County, three districts earned A’s and two received F grades. Receiving top marks were Lake Central, Crown Point and Munster. Gary and East Chicago received F grades.

In Porter County, five of seven districts received A’s — Boone Township, East Porter, Porter Township, Union Township and Valparaiso.

Last month, the state released grades for each traditional public school, charter school and voucher schools.

“I don’t wish to think of this district as a failure,” Gary School Board member Marion Williams said at Tuesday’s board meeting. “I believe there are people in this district who can move it forward. As a member of the board, I take total responsibility.”

Williams lashed out at the companies providing professional development training for Gary teachers, which are aligning their lessons with the state curriculum and Common Core. The district has paid $554,000 to at least three companies Williams called out — Pearson Education, Carnegie Learning and Imagine Learning.

“If they’re so good, there should be results,” Williams said.

The professional development outlay is in addition to millions in federal money received by the Lew Wallace STEM Academy and the Bailly Preparatory Academy for professional development training of teachers and staffers.

Last year, Lew Wallace received $2 million in federal money aimed at turning around the school, which is on the brink of a possible state takeover. Bailly received $1.76 million and the Watson Academy for Boys received $1.79 million.

The Gary and East Chicago districts are among four statewide that received failing grades. The others are Indianapolis Public Schools and Medora Community Schools in southern Indiana’s Jackson County.

Six districts received failing grades last year. The Kokomo and Hammond districts improved from F’s last year to D ratings.

The new ratings give A’s to 94 districts, B’s to 82 districts, C’s to 91 districts and D’s to 18 districts.

In Porter County, Portage Township saw its corporation grade knocked down to a C from an A in 2012.

Superintendent E. Ric Frataccia took issue with that, saying the change occurred due to the state’s much-maligned growth formula.

“Two schools were downgraded from a B to a D because they didn’t grow as much expected according to some goofy formula,” Frataccia said. “Our practices have not changed; in fact, they’ve gotten better, in my view.”

Portage received 2.95 points on the 4-point scale — only .05 points from receiving a B.

Frataccia is part of a 17-member group that is recommending new ways to compute a school’s A-F grade in the wake of revelations that former School Superintendent Tony Bennett privately made changes to the formula to benefit the charter school of a Republican donor.

“We have a meeting in February, which is one of the last meetings we’ll have,” Frataccia said. “The State Board hasn’t approved the changes yet. Just about all our thinking has been on that one variable — growth. We’ll see how the system changes, so nonsense like this doesn’t happen in the future.”

Valparaiso Community Schools Superintendent Michael Berta credited the hard work and high expectations of teachers, students and parents for the district’s A grade. Valparaiso received a 3.69 on the 4-point scale.

“That’s a winning combination,” Berta said.

Even with an A, Berta said the system should be improved.

“In terms of methodology, there is no doubt in my mind that there is a better, more effective method as well as a more reasonable goal that should be designed for K-12 schools than the current one,” Berta said. “The information that would be very helpful, regardless of grade, is the progress or lack of progress that a student demonstrates from one point of time to another — with specific information in the assessment than an educator can use and apply in classroom.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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