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Superintendent speaks out about poor grades in South Bend schools

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- South Bend Community School Corporation superintendent said on Friday the recent grade report from the Indiana Department of Education is not representative of students, teachers, or parents.

The Department of Education released the 2016-2017 School Accountability grades on Wednesday. According to the report, 22 out of the Corporation’s 33 schools received a failing grade – 9 Ds and 13 Fs.

“I don’t think it’s representative of what we do every day in the classroom,” said Dr. Kenneth Spells, SBCSC Superintendent. “They’re growing every day in our classes we can see the growth maybe at some of the buildings the grade is not what we like.”

Some schools received another failing grade for the last school year. Madison STEAM Academy is one of these, for the past six years it’s received a failing grade.

Parents took to Facebook asking why the district has so many failing schools, according to this report. A Facebook account under the name James Rockwell wrote:

“You can see the pattern of schools in low income neighborhoods compared to higher income neighborhoods.”

Dr. Spells said poverty always plays a part in it, but said the Corporation does not use that as an excuse.

“This didn’t happen overnight and that’s why I’ve been talking about Team South Bend were really going to have to work hard,” he said.

The grades are decided on four criteria – I-STEP scores, growth year-to-year from those scores, graduation rates, and finally, college and career readiness.

Deb Martin, Madison STEAM Academy principal said the elementary is graded off of I-STEP scores and growth.

According to Martin, fourth graders at the STEAM Academy, who failed I-STEP in the 2015-2016 school year, made a significant improvement in the 2016-2017 school year.

The school received 22.4 points in the performance category, which is based off of English, Language Art and Math scores from the I-STEP. But it received 94.8 points in the growth category – an A from the state.

“Madison showed tremendous growth last year,” said Dr. Spells. “That is not an ‘F’ school.”

Principal Martin said she attributes this growth to the $3 million invested into STEM curriculum at the academy.

Dr. Spells said improving school grades will take time. For now, he said he will continue with his action plan.

“My action plan is more technology, number one, that’s one of the ways you close that achievement gap,” he said. “Bridging that opportunity gap so making sure that our students have the things they need to be successful at school, working with our families.”

Dr. Spells said SBCSC is a destination corporation and is confident they will have an A graded district soon.

Click on this link to see the grade of the school your student attends.



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