14 News Special Report: Making the Grade - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

14 News Special Report: Making the Grade

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Some EVSC schools are reporting significant progress on their report cards from the State Board of Education.

The grades are based on ISTEP testing in English, Language Arts and Math.

They look at performance or the percentage of students passing, whether or not student scores improved from one year to the next, and participation.

Tekoppel Elementary and Helfrich Park STEM Academy saw drastic improvements, jumping three letter grades in just one academic year.

We talked with teachers and administrators about what they're doing, and a mom who's seeing the results with her child.

"No student wants to be part of a school that has an F.  No teacher wants to say 'I was at a school that got an F'," said Chad Hartman, math teacher.

That's one reason why you'll see teachers like Hartmann in afternoon strategy sessions, "Trying hard to do something new.  Trying to say, hey.  If this isn't as sharp as where it needs to be, what do we need to do get it sharper?"

And sharper they did.

In just one school year, Helfrich raised their state grade from an 'F' to a 'B'.

How did they do it?

A big focus was on conducting those I-STEP tests in what they call the least restrictive environment.

"Instead of testing the kids in a homeroom where maybe I only see that kid during homeroom, we took the students that I had for example in math, and I would test those particular kids.  They knew what expectations I had for them, and I held them to those expectations," said Hartman.

It paid off for many students like eighth grader, Taylor Schapker.

"Her scores went up higher in math and that was her weaker area," said Ann Schapker, Taylor's mom.  "For her, she was really surprised.  She was happy."

Schapker says the one-one-one time is also making a difference, "All of her teachers really care about her.  They'll come up and say is there an area that you think you need to work on?"

That's part of another new strategy - goal setting session.

They're partly based on short tests taken throughout the year that allow teachers to see where students may need additional help.

"If they had low growth, or maybe if they did not pass, what are some achievement strategies they could do in the classroom or even outside the classroom to reach that goal?" said Amanda Antey, social studies teacher.

And that's not all.

Social studies teacher Amanda Antey says kids are now getting extra help with assignments, "I've seen a particular student in my group go from having all F's in her classes to B's and A's, just because she's sitting down with me, we're working one on one.

While school pride has always been evident in the halls and classrooms, teachers and parents say it's even stronger now thanks to that above average report card.

"They're more focused.  I think they want the same thing.  They don't want the bad grade.  They want the rewards of being an A school, being a B school, so I think they work that much harder," said Chad Hartman, teacher

"Education, she knows, is very important.  The teachers here push that.  They're hard on her but that's good because it makes her work harder, " said Ann Schapker, parent.

Teachers and parents have high hopes for the next report card to come,"I hope we get an A after this year.  The only way is up.  We have a lot of school pride and school spirit.  Kids enjoy going to school here.  Teachers enjoy working here, so I think that next year, the only way is up," said Amanda Antey, teacher.

Something else all EVSC schools are doing now is using curriculum maps.

That means all students are being taught the same standards at the same time; something they hope will lead to improving state grades.

Those grades for this school year are due out in the fall.

To see how your child's school did, click here.

Click here to search state grades for all Indiana public schools.

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