Calumet, Lowell high schools post biggest gains in graduation rates
By Christin Nance Lazerus email@example.com May 13, 2013 4:38PM
GRAPHIC: Graduation rates in Northwest Indiana school districts
More than three dozen Northwest Indiana schools were designated Four-Star Schools on Monday.
Qualifying schools must be in the top 25th percentile of ISTEP+ test results. The state announced that 313 schools received the award.
Here is a list of the 37 Northwest Indiana schools that received the award:
Crown Point: Taft Middle School, MacArthur Elementary School, Eisenhower Elementary School, Crown Point High School, Lake Street Elementary School, Solon Robinson Elementary School, Ross Elementary School, Wheeler Middle School
Diocese of Gary: St. John Evangelist School, St. Mary Catholic Community School, Bishop Noll Institute, St. Bridget School, St. Thomas More School, St. Patrick School, St. Paul Catholic School
Highland: Highland High School
Lake Central: Lake Central High School, Watson Elementary School
Merrillville: Salk Elementary School
Munster: Munster High School, Hammond Elementary School
Boone Township: Hebron High School, Hebron Middle School
Chesterton: Discovery Charter School
Duneland: Chesterton High School
East Porter County: Morgan Township Middle/High School, Morgan Township Elementary School, Kouts Elementary School, Washington Township Elementary School
Union Township: Union Township Middle School, Wheeler High School
Valparaiso: Valparaiso High School, Benjamin Franklin Middle School, Thomas Jefferson Elementary, Central Elementary School, Memorial Elementary School, Northview Elementary School
Updated: June 15, 2013 6:18AM
Calumet High School graduated 90.3 percent of its seniors during the 2011-2012 school year — an improvement of more than 10 percent from the previous year.
Calumet, East Chicago Central High School and Lowell High School registered some of the biggest gains as the state released graduation rates on Monday. East Chicago posted a 12.3 percent gain to 79.3 percent, while Lowell improved by 8.1 percent to 95.6 percent.
Statewide, 88.3 percent of seniors graduated during the 2011-2012 school year, which was a 1.7 percent increase from the previous year. In the past six years, the state has improved its graduation rate by more than 10 percent, inching it ever closer to a goal of 90 percent.
The state graduation rate includes waivers, which schools can apply for to allow students who don’t test well to graduate. The state’s federal rate — 87 percent — varies slightly because federal authorities don’t allow as many exemptions for students based on school absences and other reasons, according to Indiana Department of Education spokesman Daniel Altman.
Calumet Principal Angela Piazza said the school was very proud of its students, and she attributed the improvement to the school’s adoption of the New Tech school model. Three years ago, the school incorporated New Tech as part of a turnaround plan to avoid state intervention after several years on academic probation.
“With the New Tech method, it makes the learning more meaningful to the students by showing them the real world applications, showing them how to actually apply it to their lives,” Piazza said.
The rollout of New Tech started with freshmen and sophomore students in 2010-11 and expanded to juniors and seniors in 2011-12. This year, the district started incorporating more project-based learning in its sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade classes and the program will expand in full at the middle school next year.
East Porter County’s Morgan Township High School posted the highest graduation rate in Northwest Indiana at 98.4 percent. No Porter County school graduated fewer than 88.9 percent of its seniors, with all but two surpassing 90 percent.
Eight Lake County schools reached the 90 percent mark: Munster, Crown Point, Lowell, Lake Central, Hanover Central, Hobart, Highland and Calumet.
Hebron High School showed a significant gain from 90.8 percent to 97.5 percent.
Boone Grove High School gained 6.3 percent from 83.5 percent to 89.8 percent.
Gary schools struggled, with Lew Wallace graduating just 54.2 percent of its seniors and West Side and Wirt/Emerson graduating 65.5 percent and 75.6 percent, respectively. Wirt/Emerson experienced the biggest decline in Northwest Indiana at 18.5 percent.
Hammond schools held fairly steady.
Clark High School posted a 4.7 percent gain, graduating 79.6 percent of its seniors. Hammond High School improved by almost a percentage point, graduating 75.6 percent of its seniors. Gavit’s rate dropped by 1.1 percent to 76.9 percent, and Morton’s rate dipped by 1.9 percent to 67.8 percent.
Click below to open our online database of graduation rates searchable by corporation or school