Stack of books, red apple, globe and pencilsMarshall County Schools latest A-F accountability grades all seem solid. On Tuesday, the State Board of Education approved the grades for the 2014-2015 school year. However, the latest grades reflect changes made by the Indiana General Assembly. In essence, Senate Enrolled Act 200 specifies that no school could be given a lower grade than it did the previous year. Under the provisions in the law, school grades could improve, but could not decrease.

The new legislation holds schools harmless and was considered after there was a significant drop in ISTEP+ (Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress +). Indiana had withdrawn from the federal Common Core standards and instituted a more stringent test.

The Indiana House also passed legislation tied into the ISTEP scores. House Enrolled Act 1003 prevents individual teachers from being negatively impacted by lower results. Prior to the new measures, merit pay could be withheld from teachers who had classes with non-passing scores.

Glenda Ritz, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction, shared her appreciation for the considerations. Ritz said, “After more than 18 months spent advocating to hold our schools and teachers harmless for the transition to more rigorous college and career ready standards and the results of a more rigorous ISTEP+ assessment, I am pleased to release 2015 school accountability grades that do not penalize schools  and communities for this transition.”” I want to thank Indiana’s students, educators, and families for their hard work and patience during this challenging year.”

Area schools received the following grades:

Culver Community High School, B; Culver Elementary School, A; Culver Community Middle School, A; Argos Community Elementary, A; Argos Community JR-SR High School, A; Bremen Senior High School, A; Bremen Elem-Middle School, B.

Plymouth Schools received the following: Menominee Elementary School, B; Plymouth High School, A; Lincoln Junior High School, C; Riverside Intermediate, A; Jefferson Elementary School, A; Washington Discovery Academy, C; Webster Elementary School, B.

Additional scores for Marshall County Schools included: Triton Elementary School, B; Triton JR-SR High School, B.

John Glen School Corporation scores included: Harold C Urey Middle School, B; John Glenn High School, A; North Liberty School, A; Walkerton Elementary School, C.

Union-North United Schools included LaVille Jr-Sr High School, C and LaVille Elementary School, A.

Statewide Hold Harmless grades for public schools came in at 1188 schools, A; 406 schools, B; 318 schools, C; 128 schools, D; and 55 schools, F. Those with an A reflected 56.7 percent of the public schools.

Ritz explained that she supports accountability. She said, “While I appreciate the work of the legislature to hold schools harmless for the results of last year’s ISTEP +assessment, Indiana should move away from labeling Hoosier schools, and in turn Hoosier students, based on the results of a lengthy, pass/fail, high-stakes assessment. “ She added, “In support accountability but I support accountability that makes sense.”

Ritz ended her remarks saying, “I look forward to implementing Indiana’s new Student-Centered Accountability System which more accurately reflects the great work happening in our schools and communities every day.”