8 area schools receive Four Star award for ISTEP scores

Eight local schools that received high scores on the ISTEP exam were recognized as some of the best among the state.

The Indiana Department of Education named 287 schools as Four Star Schools for the 2014-2015 school year. In order to receive the honor, schools must have received an A rating through the state’s accountability system and be in the top 25th percentile for scores on the ISTEP exam.

Center Grove High School, Center Grove Middle School Central, Center Grove Middle School North, Franklin Community Middle School, Greenwood Community High School, Sugar Grove Elementary School, Roncalli High School and Westwood Elementary were all named Four Star Schools, according to a news release from the Indiana Department of Education.

“I’m so excited for the staff and the kids because they worked very hard,” former Westwood Elementary Principal Lisa Harkness said.

Greenwood is celebrating two successes this year, with the high school’s fifth year in a row receiving the honor, and Westwood Elementary receiving it for the 18th time overall.

Five years ago, Greenwood Community High School teachers and administrators set a goal to improve the scores of students scoring lower than their peers, principal Todd Garrison said. Students who struggled in classes were given additional help throughout high school so their grades could improve, Garrison said.

Westwood Elementary was named a Four Star school for 18 of the 19 years Harkness was principal. At the beginning of this school year, Harkness transitioned to director of curriculum, instruction and assessment for Greenwood schools.

Harkness wasn’t sure if Westwood would receive the designation, due to the increased rigor of last year’s ISTEP exam, where the test was more difficult and required students to show their answers and reasoning.

In preparation for last year’s ISTEP exam, teachers showed elementary school students how to analyze text and apply their knowledge in ways that most children don’t do until high school or college, Harkness said. Teachers especially focused on English and language arts, since the ISTEP exam was requiring children to know new skills, Harkness said.

The Four Star status validates the extra work teachers and students did last year, Harkness said.

Every year the high school is picked as a Four Star School, the staff celebrates at an Indianapolis Indians game, Garrison said.

Last year, seven local schools received the Four Star School designation, including Union Elementary School, Center Grove Elementary School and Clark-Pleasant Middle School. Center Grove High School, Westwood Elementary, Greenwood Community High School and Roncalli High School all received the honor last year, too.

At a glance

Here’s a look at which schools were named as Four Star schools in the 2014-2015 school year:

  • Center Grove High School
  • Center Grove Middle School Central
  • Center Grove Middle School North
  • Franklin Community Middle School
  • Greenwood Community High School
  • Sugar Grove Elementary School (Center Grove)
  • Roncalli High School
  • Westwood Elementary (Greenwood)

Source: Indiana Department of Education