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INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Department of Education released a "second round" of Four Star Schools on Friday.

On May 12, the state released a "first round" of 41 schools that made the list, but not one was from Lake, Porter or LaPorte counties. A department spokesman said at the time the criteria had been revised and was much stricter.

On Friday, DOE spokesman Adam Banker said in a press release, "Indiana is full of great schools providing exceptional education throughout all four corners of our state. After receiving feedback from the field, we re-evaluated our criteria in an effort to ensure we captured all schools deserving of Four Star recognition.”

When the criteria was revised, 28 schools in Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties made the list.

Lake Central schools Superintendent Larry Veracco said when the assessment is continually changed and becomes a "moving target," it's difficult for schools to realistically know how to design programs and achieve a status the state defines as excellent.

"We're all for rigor and having a high bar, but we would like for them to set the goals and keep them steady, at least for a little while," Veracco said Friday after the release showing his district now has three elementary schools that made the list.

"They have to decide what it is they are looking for. Define the regular passing score and what it takes to be proficient. What is above and beyond, and if schools make the target, it's not necessary to keep moving the target and manipulate the system.

"We need to use multiple measures by which we grade our schools, not just one test. And the fact that we use just one test to grade our teachers is the biggest crime of all."

Created in 1988, the Four Star Schools designation is used by the department to recognize the best schools in Indiana.

To receive Four Star designation, a school must receive an A on the state’s A-F accountability system, have excellent ISTEP-Plus pass rates, carry overall high graduation rate (if applicable) and show success in closing achievement gaps. A total of 248 schools received the honor.

The winning schools are:

Andrean High School, Merrillville, Saint John Evangelist School, St. John, Saint Patrick School, Chesterton, and Saint Paul Catholic School, Valparaiso, all within the Diocese of Gary; Jerry Ross, Lake Street and Solon Robinson elementary schools and Crown Point High School, Crown Point School Corp.; Liberty Elementary School and Liberty Intermediate School, Duneland School Corp., Chesterton; Bibich, Watson and Peifer elementary schools in Lake Central School Corp., St. John; F. Williard Crichfield and Indian Trail elementary schools in LaPorte Community School Corp., LaPorte; Immanuel Lutheran School in Valparaiso; Boone Grove High School in Porter Township School Corp.; Johnston Elementary School, School Town of Highland; Munster High School, School Town of Munster; Morgan Township and Washington Township elementaries in East Porter County School Corp., Valparaiso; Simatovich Elementary School and Union Township Middle School in Union Township School Corp., Valparaiso; Cooks Corners, Hayes Leonard, Memorial, Northview and Thomas Jefferson elementary schools in Valparaiso Community School Corp., Valparaiso.


Southlake County Reporter

Carmen is an award-winning journalist who has worked at The Times newspaper for 20 years. Before that she also had stints at The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., The Post-Tribune and The News Dispatch in Michigan City.