Center Grove is studying how teachers are educating their students and how to provide extra help and materials to make lessons more effective.
Despite having some of the highest passing rates in the county for statewide exams, including ISTEP and end-of-course assessments, the school district is slipping academically compared with others in the state, officials have said. Other similarly sized school districts, such as Avon or Noblesville, are seeing rising test scores, while Center Grove is staying nearly the same, officials said this summer.
But Center Grove officials expect that to change and have a plan to provide additional materials and resources to teachers to help them better educate their students.
Story continues below gallery
In the past four months, officials have been working on ideas to change the curriculum so students can grow and succeed. Now, they are putting those plans in motion. On Monday night, parents and residents are invited to the first of two academic forums, which will explain changes to Center Grove’s academic programs, including special education, high ability, Title 1, honors and dual enrollment programs.
“The rationale behind it is there are so many questions about what we do,” said Jack Parker, Center Grove director of teaching and learning. “Academics, that’s our No. 1 priority. We are focused on student learning and increasing performance every chance we get for all students.”
School officials plan to address how they provide services to students and how curriculum and classroom methods could change, Parker said. They want parents to know how the school district will cater to meet every student’s needs and have a chance to give feedback on any concerns about struggling students or teens who aren’t challenged enough, he said.
A large focus is on teachers and their instructional methods, or how they’re teaching students in the classroom, Parker said. At the start of this school year, Center Grove hired 11 instructional coaches who can assist teachers in their lesson plans and offer ideas of how to better reach students, such as by adding more hands-on activities or teaching educators how to use more multimedia platforms.
The issue for Center Grove isn’t that their students’ scores are dropping. Instead, the scores staying relatively the same, based on data from the Indiana Department of Education. Graduation rates have stayed at 93 percent for the past three years and haven’t been higher than 94 percent since 2009, according to the data. End-of-course assessment scores and ISTEP passing rates haven’t risen higher than 87 percent within the past five years.
As a result, Center Grove has dropped in statewide ranks as other school districts make gains in their scores. Three years ago, Center Grove was on the cusp of being in the top 10 school districts in the state for ISTEP passing rates. Last year, the school district dropped to 40th statewide, according to the school district.
Administrators want to see those numbers improve and want to continue to challenge their students so they achieve their full potential, Parker said.
“What is a student’s current performance model and how can we help them grow? How are we challenging our students?” Parker said.
Within the next three years, Center Grove officials have a goal for every high school student to take — and earn credit for — at least two college-level courses before they graduate, Parker said.
School officials have been looking at instructional methods — such as whether a student is a visual, auditory or tactile learner — and will provide additional assistance to teachers so they can adjust lessons to fit students’ needs, Center Grove spokeswoman Stacy Conrad said.
Starting next school year, administrators will create professional learning communities, where fellow teachers can compare tests and statewide exam scores to see where students are falling short.
“In the review that has occurred thus far, we have found that there are a wide variety of quality instructional strategies across our district,” Parker said.
Now, they want to find the ones that work best, he said.
Center Grove wants to provide more academic options to students through new avenues, such as the STEM Innovation Center, which will be open by next school year. Incorporating science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, into the school district’s curriculum will allow all students to be better problem-solvers in any future career they have, Center Grove chief technology officer Jason Taylor said.
The school district also wants to explore adding classes, such as global economics, forensic science and advanced manufacturing classes, so students can learn more about what they are interested in, Parker said.
Another academic forum this spring will update parents on the school district’s data and any other changes the school district will make for the next school year, Parker said.
What: Forum on Center Grove’s plans to improve and change curriculum and teaching methods
Where: Center Grove Educational Services Center, 4800 W. Stones Crossing Road, Greenwood.
When: 6:30 to 7:45 p.m. Monday