School accountability grades in Indiana are skewed.
Wealthy districts with parents who have the wherewithal to put their kids in position to succeed typically look successful in the state’s accountability grading. Meanwhile, urban school systems where poverty is rampant most often appear to flounder.
In the past, some Anderson school officials, particularly ACS board trustees, have hidden behind this grading disparity. Essentially, they’d given up on the idea of success.
But the current school board and administration are not making excuses. Instead they’re focusing on solutions.
ACS has scored poorly the past two years in state evaluations, “earning” a D letter grade. Anderson High School and Highland Middle School, in particular, have looked bad. AHS received Ds in 2012 and 2013, and Highland got an F in 2012 and a D last year.
The state considers achievement in the following areas when assigning school and corporation grades:
◆ Language arts
◆ College and career readiness
◆ Graduation rates
Anderson High and Highland Middle School have been placed on the Indiana Department of Education’s “priority” list, meaning, in part, that each school is required to conduct a public hearing to share improvement plans.
Those public hearings were Feb. 10 during an ACS board meeting.
Highland Principal Kelly Durr explained her staff’s goal of improving overall performance and pass rates by about 5 percent in language arts, via targeted academic intervention, more professional development for teachers and the formation of “communities” among students.
Anderson High Principal Terry Thompson revealed that teacher-led teams would address a variety of issues, including the school’s leadership, learning environment, culture, curriculum and time management. He emphasized that the improvement plan would be entirely teacher-driven.
While the plans for both schools sound good, the proof, as always, will be in the outcomes.
In the meantime, parents of ACS students should own up to the responsibility of supporting teachers and making schoolwork and learning the top priority in the home.
Without a concentrated effort on both fronts — at school and at home — ACS will have trouble breaking free of the stigma that is too often attached to urban school systems.
In summary Anderson parents and schools should work together for student improvement.