Can one truly put a number or letter to the performance of our schools?
The Indiana Department of Education released its school accountability grades last week, and only one of Whitley County’s 12 schools received an A rating — Whitko High School. Another school in the same district, Pierceton Elementary, received the worst grade in the county.
Five other schools in the county received Cs. In most scales, a C is considered nothing more than “average.”
We appreciate the spirit of the school accountability rules — families with students in certain schools want to know how well the school is providing for their children. Prospective residents to a community want to know how well one school district stacks up against another — but there has to be a better way and we know we are not alone in thinking this.
We understand that the state grades are calculated based on set quantifiable criteria, such as state test results, percent of graduating students and special exam passing rate. But, even with the debate surrounding the state assessment test (ISTEP), the state grading system doesn’t capture everything our schools are doing in and beyond the classrooms to educate our students.
We’re not saying our schools are perfect, but we are fortunate to spend time in local schools, interacting with students and teachers, hearing from administrators at school board meetings. As a result, we have an appreciation for the perhaps immeasurable aspects of our schools.
We’ve seen amazing work going on in our schools. Take Churubusco Elementary School for example, it is one of the only in the area to offer a science program to elementary students. The school also has an outstanding courtyard and provided an educational community service project through planting trees.
At Indian Springs Middle School, another C-rated school, social studies teacher Amy Shearer always finds a way to make school exciting for her students — so much so, in fact, that she received an award from State Sen. Andy Zay, R-Huntington, earlier this year.
Mary Raber Elementary School, another C-rated school, has a unique, fun activity for students, “Bike to School Day,” where students are encouraged to ride their bikes to school, and they have a fun day of learning bicycle safety and how exercise is healthy.
Take five minutes and go to Whitko Community Schools’ Facebook pages, and you can see all the exciting ways teachers are making learning fun for our children. You can do the same with Friends of WCCS and Smith-Green’s social media pages.
The work our teachers and school staff do for our children is immeasurable. Whitley County has three outstanding school districts. The work being done can’t solely be measured by test scores. Our schools are helping our students grow into wonderful young adults, and you can’t put a letter grade on that.
We can always improve and we should strive to, but we also want to let our schools know we appreciate the work they are doing.