2017-11-08 / Opinions & Letters

Letters to the Editor

DCHS Principal defends state grade

The State of Indiana determined Delphi Community High School’s letter grade was a noteworthy “B” for the 2016-2017 school year. While the DCHS goal is for our students to leave our building with the ability to successfully navigate attending college or embarking on a career, we must also meet the expectations of the state.

Comparing our school grade from last year to this year is a disservice to our students and staff because the method of scoring schools over the past two years has changed. In addition, the high school letter grade is calculated differently than the elementary and middle schools’ grades.

DCHS earned a solid B (86%) in 2015-2016, which was calculated based on: • 75% Multiple Measures - calculated on the number of students who took dual credit courses at DCHS as well as our school’s graduation rate; and • 25% Performance - calculated on the pass rate of students on the “new” ISTEP 10th grade assessment.

DCHS again earned a solid B (86.4%) in 2016-2017 increasing 0.4% from 2015- 2016, however the school grade was calculated based on different criteria. Calculations were based on: • 20% Performance - Calculation based on the pass rate of students on the “new” ISTEP 10th grade assessment; • 20% Growth – Calculated by the improvement of our 10th grade students from their 8th grade year of ISTEP in both math and English; and • 60% Multiple Measures - Calculation based on the number of students who took dual credit courses at DCHS as well as our school’s graduation rate.

Although it may appear DCHS remained stagnant, the calculation of the score was inconsistent from year to year. Multiple changes will be made to the calculation formula to calculate the current school year’s (2017- 2018) grade; therefore changing the playing field of high school accountability.

Delphi Community High School is proud of its strong standing 2016-2017 school grade of a “B” which has recently been made public. Our growth scores in both English and math were impressive, as were our college and career readiness and graduation scores, which demonstrate extraordinary success within our school. Our staff continues to show resolve and dedication, which is evident in the consistent educational growth of our students and in the environment they have helped to create - one where students receive the support they need so they can graduate. We have an exemplary staff at DCHS.

Although we are demonstrating success, it would be remiss if, as a school, we do not also seek to continually improve. Our area of focus continues to be the performance scores of our sophomores on the new 10th grade ISTEP, which is also the required graduation exam for students in the state of Indiana. The new ISTEP test requires students to critically think, to problem solve and to solve complex, layered problems. Surface-level understanding of material will no longer suffice if students want to be successful on the state assessments. Therefore, rather than “teach to the moving target of the ISTEP test,” the high school’s goal is to teach the skills students must possess when they leave our building, such as problem solving, critical thinking, the ability to learn, attention to detail, writing proficiency, communication skills, leadership skills and teamwork. These are the skills colleges and business find lacking in today’s graduating students. We are evolving as a staff, our instructional practices to include more rigor, problem solving, collaboration and more argumentative and researched-based writing skills. We are changing the way students need to approach math problems by requiring them to understand the process and the steps, rather than surface-level understanding of material. Students are now writing their steps and their thought process and they are able to discuss “why” they found the specific answer.

While we are making longterm changes to our instructional methods, we also must remediate our students who did not pass the graduation test last year and we must proactively support our sophomores who will be taking the graduation test in the winter and in the spring. We have created Students Using Critical Comprehension to Evaluate, Solve and Succeed - “Project Success” to do this.

All sophomores and juniors who did not successfully pass either the math and/or the English portion of the sophomore ISTEP (graduation test) are assigned to “Project Success” during Oracle Time, which is similar to a homeroom period. The math and English teachers are creating problem solving, collaborative, real-life application problems for students to practice, discuss and apply higher-level thinking skills toward. These are skills necessary for success on the new assessments.

While we are proud of our school grade, this is not our focus. Our focus is creating an environment where our students can be successful and productive citizens. The ISTEP (graduation exam) will be changing again for the 2018-2019 school year and the calculation of our school grade will also have more stringent requirements for that school year. While the state is continually changing the definition of success at the high school level, the skills needed for young adults to be successful, productive citizens is not, therefore, DCHS will continue to move forward on our current path of preparing tomorrow’s future adults. Community, thank you once again for entrusting us with your most important stakeholders - our children.

Ann-Marie Circle

Delphi Community High

School Principal

Return to top