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Principal sets record straight on school grade PDF Print E-mail
Written by Norbert Goessling   
Monday, November 12, 2012 7:53 PM

Editor’s Note: Stories about the letter grades received by county schools, and a corresponding chart ran in The Dearborn County Register Thursday, Nov. 1, on Page 6A. This letter was sent to Bright Elementary School staff and parents as well as the newspaper.

Editor:

I am writing this letter due to the news release of the IDOE recent ‘A-F’ rating of the schools in Indiana. I want to assure you that we at BES have looked at these results and are taking them seriously. I would like to shed some light on how a tremendous school such as BES can be rated with a ‘C’ by the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE). Please review the following explanation and contact me with any questions you may have with it.  I hope by shedding some light on our ‘C’ ranking, you will understand my confidence, as principal of BES, that we are not a ‘C’ school.  From the teachers and assistants, to the custodians, cafeteria staff, nurse, and office personnel, we work very hard at BES and strive to be an ‘A’ ranked school every day.  The IDOE and their new formula for ranking schools have portrayed BES inaccurately.  I would encourage you to review our scores at
http://compass.doe.in.gov/dashboard/overview.aspx?type=school&id=1193
I would also encourage you to “GOOGLE” A-F Ratings for Indiana Schools.  Please try to read some reports that aren’t written by the IDOE.   When reading about schools, please make sure to check them out on COMPASS. (website above). 
Please visit http://www.sunmandearborn.k12.in.us for further information on school ratings.
Here are some of the spring 2012 (last school year) statistics for Bright Elementary School:


96 percent attendance rate (about state average).
Third grade ISTEP passing percentage in Math was 89 percent (11 pts. higher than state average).  This statistic is not used in the A-F rating **
Third grade ISTEP passing percentage in English-Language Arts (E/LA) was a 90  percent (6 pts. higher than state average).  This statistic is not used in the A-F rating **
** Stats you can’t get from COMPASS:
Fourth grade ISTEP passing percentage in math was 86  percent (9 pts. higher than state average).
1 Point deducted* (51 percent  percent of the students showed low growth) 43 percent cut score - a difference of 13 students.
(7 percent showed high growth)
Fourth  grade ISTEP passing percentage in E/LA was a 90 percent ( 10 pts. higher than state average) 
1 Point deducted*(43  percent of the students showed low growth) 40 percent cut score - a difference of 6 students.
(14 percent showed high growth)
Fourth grade science scores were at a 96 percent passing rate, almost 30 percent points above the state average. 
This statistic is not used in the A-F rating **
One might think that to grade a school, you would use a lot of data and take many factors into account.   Well that is just not true for a school with grades K-1-2-3-4. The final letter grade that a school like ours will get is based solely on ISTEP scores earned by our fourth graders compared to when those students were third graders.  Our final letter grade gives us “zero” credit for attendance, any work or test scores in K-1-2-3, as well as nothing for our science scores. Our raw letter score started as a 3.75 (A), we were then deducted a letter grade for showing low growth in our fourth grade math scores and deducted another letter grade for low growth in E/LA.  So the final grade looks at only two fourth grade scores and compares them to where the students were as third graders.
So why the ‘C’ rating?
In the State of Indiana, all third graders (from 2011 to 2012) dropped 2 percent in ISTEP- E/LA from an 82 percent to an 80 percent.
BES went from 91 percent to a 90 percent* (10 percent above state average).  In the state of IN all third graders (from 2011 to 2012) dropped 1 percent in ISTEP -Math from a 78 percent to 77 percent.  BES went from a 90 percent to an 86 percent* (9 percent above state average).
This is an area of concern which we will work on.   See below what we are doing about this drop.
Fourth graders who are now 5th graders did not show as much growth as the IDOE would have expected.  The fourth grade ISTEP is a large change from the third grade ISTEP and is known to drop. Since we have only one grade to look at, we can’t get any type of averaging and they look at nothing else.
How can we make an ‘A’ rating under these new grading guidelines?
That would be easy.  We could see that our third graders do poorly on their ISTEP so we can show tremendous growth in the fourth grade scores.   Well of course we won’t be doing that!
Primarily we need to work on our Math and E/LA scores for our fourth graders, especially with our lowest preforming students. Currently every year we will start behind knowing that the fourth grade ISTEP is normally 2 percent behind the third grade ISTEP scores. (This fact alone forms a bleak outlook for all schools made up of K-1-2-3-4 grades. Other schools which contain multiple ISTEP growth years can average out years, unlike BES, where our entire score rides on just one year’s growth which is statistically 2 percent lower).
This year BES has become a Title I school which allows us more resources for professional development (PD), supplies, and an aide specific to the fourth grade, who will work specifically with our lowest performing (non-individual educational plan (IEP) students). Teachers practiced with ACUITY testing last year and will have a better understanding as to how to track students this year as we prepare for ISTEP (both grades 3 & 4). This will allow us to find student’s weaknesses and help them improve. Team Success Tutoring is available for our lowest performing students this year. Currently we have tutoring offered in 3-4 grade Math and 1-2 grade E/LA.   This spring we will offer tutoring for 3-4 grades E/LA and 1-2 grades math.
I attempted to appeal the grade for BES, but found out that schools were only able to appeal the decision if the schools were less than 3 years old.   (3 years ago, happens to be when Charter Schools started in IN.)
In Review:
96 percent attendance rate (about state average).
third grade ISTEP passing percentage in math was 89  percent (11 pts. higher than state average and higher than our own corporation’s average).  
third grade ISTEP passing percentage in E/LA was a 90  percent (6 pts. higher than state average and higher than our own corporation’s average). 
fourth grade ISTEP passing percentage in math was 86  percent (9 pts. higher than state average and higher than our own corporation’s average). 
fourth grade ISTEP passing percentage in E/LA was a 90  percent (10 pts. higher than state average and higher than our own corporation’s average).
Our fourth grade science scores were at a 96  percent passing rate, (30 pts. above the state average).
And this doesn’t even touch the surface of the great staff in all grades, custodians, cooks, teacher assistants, nurse, counselor, and office staff that makes this school great.        
As you look at these statistics, I hope you share my frustration in trying to understand how BES is rated a ‘C’ School.

Norbert Goessling
Principal, Bright Elementary School