EDITORIAL: Hold schools accountable, help students improve

2014-01-29T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Hold schools accountable, help students improve nwitimes.com
January 29, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Indiana's accountability grades for school districts are, not surprising, a mixed bag for Northwest Indiana.

Indiana's A-F accountability system factors in student academic growth, graduation rates, and college and career readiness.

As usual, Northwest Indiana has some of the best schools in the state and some of the worst.

The A-F grading scale, and especially the numerical scores that led to the letter grades, show this well.

Northwest Indiana had four of the 37 public school districts with perfect 4.0 scores. Each of those districts — including Crown Point Community School Corp., School Town of Munster, Tri-Township Consolidated School Corp. and Union Township School Corp. — deserves the highest commendation from residents and stakeholders in those districts.

But the region also has some of the lowest-performing districts. Gary Community School Corp. tied with Medora Community School Corp. for the lowest score in the state — 0.15 on a 4.0 scale. School City of East Chicago was next to the bottom, with 0.53. East of those three school districts, along with Indianapolis Public Schools, received an F grade.

School City of Hammond, with a 1.27 score, was the lowest score that still received a D. River Forest Community School Corp. was just above Hammond, with a 1.42 score.

Looking at these scores, it's easy to see the correlation between socioeconomic status and educational outcomes. That's an issue that should not be ignored.

It should not be used as an excuse, however, for not trying harder in those districts to address student needs.

The Indiana Department of Education must look at the scores carefully to determine what makes school districts with similar demographics perform differently.

Indiana also must focus attention and resources on remediation at the worst schools without harming the best schools in the process. Standardized testing for students and accountability grades for schools and school districts must be considered tools, not end results.

Get parents or other mentors involved, too. Students need that guidance.

And don't forget to hold schools accountable for their performance. This is about the children, after all. Preparing them for the future is one of the state's most basic functions.

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