Nine Indiana schools and school corporations were recognized by Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Tony Bennett in his Statehouse office this morning. Using new data from the Indiana Growth Model, these schools and corporations were selected for this honor because a large percentage of their students achieved high academic growth in both Mathematics and English/Language Arts during the 2009-2010 school year.

“For the first time ever, we have the ability to do more than just recognize high test scores; the Growth Model allows us to identify schools making the largest gains in student learning,” Bennett said.

“No matter a child’s gifts and limitations—no matter what they know upon entering a classroom—we want to distinguish and praise those educators who meet students where they are and push them to reach their highest academic potential over the course of the school year. These nine schools and districts are filled with educators achieving that goal, and they are excellent role models for schools around the state.”

The Indiana Growth Model measures how much students learn in each content area over the course of a year. Here’s how it works: Students are grouped with peers who achieve the same scale score on the Mathematics or English/Language Arts portions of the ISTEP+ examination. Once the Growth Model has at least two years of ISTEP+ data, students’ growth is measured by comparing their advancement on the ISTEP to the advancement of other students in their peer group. For each student, the Growth Model projects a student growth percentile, which is labeled as low, typical or high growth.

The nine schools and school corporations honored today are some of the state’s leaders in helping students achieve high academic growth. Representatives (school leaders, teachers and students) from each school highlighted the best practices that led to such success.

West Lafayette Community Schools – Superintendent Rocky Killion credits success to parent support and volunteer initiatives, quick identification for students who need extra help and strong, collaborative relationships with the community, city leaders and businesses.

Challenge Foundation Academy in Indianapolis – Principal Charlie Schlegel said the most important factor driving student success at the academy is exceptionally hard working teachers who only need the freedom and creativity to do their best work. He also cited the importance of using data from regular assessments to drive student learning and interventions.

Ernie Pyle Elementary School in Indianapolis – Principal Mark Pugh described the benefits of their year-round schedule, high expectations for all students, and great teachers who use inquiry-based, hands-on instruction to challenge and engage their students.

Springs Valley Community Schools – Superintendent Todd Pritchett praised his staff for their commitment to aligning instruction to state standards and meeting individual student needs by differentiating instruction and targeted intervention to help make sure all students learn at high levels.

West Gary Lighthouse Charter – Principal Kenneth McCants said student success at his school has much to do with careful instructional planning that is aligned to academic standards, targeted student and educator support, and regular assessments that help educators target interventions and lessons.

21st Century Charter in Gary – Principal Angela West’s educators have also embraced data-driven instruction and use assessments to inform lesson planning on a daily basis. She also credits a staff that goes above and beyond with extra time and attention, after school tutoring and more.

Bremen Public Schools – K-8 Principal Larry Yelaska said if he had to chose one thing above all others, it would be a total focus on student achievement. Yelaska also praises his dedicated staff, involved parents and caring kids.

Clinton Central School Corporation – Elementary Principal John Sloggett described an array of factors that combine to boost student learning, including great lesson planning, regular assessments, targeted professional development, incorporating technology wherever possible and ongoing professional collaboration between all educators in the district.

Hamilton Southeastern Junior High School – Principal Shari Switzer credits her school’s success to a comprehensive intervention program, a focus on improving students’ problem-solving, decision-making and communication skills and a no-excuses culture that demands excellence from students and staff.

Currently, Indiana’s Growth Model measures growth in Mathematics and English/Language Arts for students in Grades 3-8. To see how well students in your community are growing academically, the general public can access corporation- and school-level views of the Growth Model at www.learningconnection.doe.in.gov/GrowthModel/Search.aspx. Beginning this school year, teachers and administrators had secure access to student-level data—information that they can use to identify students in need of extra help before they fall behind. Also, parents can request passwords from their child’s school that will let them access their child’s growth data.

“The Growth Model is a tool for the entire community. Educators and administrators should use it to guide instruction and intervention. Parents should use it to advocate for their child’s education, and the general public should use it to hold their neighborhood schools accountable,” Bennett said. “The Growth Model is a game-changer, and it will be the foundation for many of our educational initiatives in the 2011 legislative session.”

Dr. Bennett hosted a press conference to honor these schools and presented certificates of achievement to representatives from each. Attached are four lists, based on preliminary attendance data for the 2009-10 school year, featuring other notable high-growth schools and corporations across the state. Two list the top 25 high-growth school corporations for Mathematics and English/Language Arts. Two more name the top high-growth school in each county in Mathematics and English/Language Arts. Schools with fewer than ten students have been omitted from the lists to protect students’ privacy.