Schools receive federal accountability ratings


The U.S. Department of Education released its 2019 accountability ratings for Indiana schools earlier this month, and local corporations performed well.

Most local schools rated “meets” or “exceeds expectations,” with three elementary schools — Dubois, Celestine and Huntingburg — rating “approaches expectations.”

All schools that receive federal funding receive an accountability rating from the U.S. Department of Education, which rates schools according to various factors, including how different population demographic groups perform. In the past, federal accountability ratings have been issued as letter grades, but this year, the Indiana Department of Education requested the ratings be issued instead of grades, as Indiana’s state accountability system also issues letter grades.

While the federal ratings are a measure of accountability, local school leaders say the ratings aren’t that useful at the local level.

“They don’t tell us a lot different than the state report does,” North Spencer Superintendent Dan Scherry said.

The main difference between the two reports, he said, is that the federal report breaks schools’ student bodies down into more student groups, particularly where ethnicity is concerned. For rural schools like those in North Spencer district where the student body is almost entirely a single ethnicity, that extra breakdown isn’t a lot of help.

Northeast Dubois Superintendent Bill Hochgesang said his corporation doesn’t use the federal accountability report to plan instruction.

“We pay attention to the state ones and use them,” he said.

He described the federal report as basically a “duplicate of the state’s.”

More than either the state or federal accountability reports, however, local superintendents said their educators rely on formative assessments students take throughout the year to gauge student learning. State standardized tests like ILEARN happen once a year and only measure student performance on the day they take the test, while the ongoing assessments show students’ growth throughout the year.

“There are predictable rates at which kids can grow,” Scherry said. “Our assessments measure that, and we look at that data a lot.”

When students aren’t growing at the rate their teachers think they should be, Scherry said, they receive individualized support.

Hochgesang and Southeast Dubois Superintendent Jamie Pund said their teachers do the same.

Pund also pointed out that by the time schools receive federal and state accountability data for the year, they’re already about halfway through the next school year. The in-house assessments provide actionable data in a more timely manner.

“It’s immediate, you can act on it and the kids are right there,” Pund said.

Southwest Dubois Superintendent Tim LaGrange and Greater Jasper Superintendent Tracy Lorey could not be reached by press time.

Indiana’s accountability grades for the 2018-19 school year have yet to be released. According to the Indiana Department of Education’s website, “due to the recent request by Superintendent McCormick and the Indiana General Assembly to pass a hold harmless on 2018-2019 State Accountably Grades, the State Board of Education has adopted a resolution withholding any vote to release state accountability grades until the General Assembly has officially taken action in the upcoming 2020 legislative session.”

McCormick made the request due to the introduction of the state’s new standardized test, ILEARN, and a hold harmless resolution is currently making its way through the legislature.

Greater Jasper Schools

Jasper High School: Meets Expectations

Jasper Middle School: Meets Expectations

Ireland Elementary School: Exceeds Expectations

Tenth Street Elementary: Meets Expectations

Fifth Street Elementary: Meets Expectations

Northeast Dubois Schools

Northeast Dubois High School: Meets Expectations

Dubois Middle School: Meets Expectations

Dubois Elementary School: Approaches Expectations

Celestine Elementary School: Approaches Expectations

Southeast Dubois Schools

Forest Park Junior-Senior High School: Meets Expectations

Cedar Crest Intermediate School: Meets Expectations

Ferdinand Elementary: Exceeds Expectations

Pine Ridge Elementary: Exceeds Expectations

Southwest Dubois Schools

Southridge High School: Meets Expectations

Southridge Middle School: Meets Expectations

Huntingburg Elementary: Approaches Expectations

Holland Elementary: Exceeds Expectations

North Spencer Schools

Heritage Hills High School: Exceeds Expectations

Heritage Hills Middle School: Meets Expectations

Chrisney Elementary: Meets Expectations

David Turnham Education Center: Meets Expectations

Lincoln Trail Elementary: Exceeds Expectations

Nancy Hanks Elementary: Meets Expectations

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