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Higher scores, more grads among Franklin goals

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By the end of next school year the Franklin school district wants more students passing standardized English and math tests and graduating from high school.

Franklin’s current graduation rate is 85 percent, the lowest in Johnson County; and schools’ ISTEP passing rates on math and English range from 67 percent to 90 percent.

At the high school, 77 percent of students recently passed the English end-of-course assessment exam, while 60 percent passed the Algebra I end-of-course assessment.

District leaders want to see all of those rates — ISTEP, end-of-course assessments and graduation — to hit at least 90 percent by the end of the 2013-14 school year.

Franklin’s school improvement plans

What they are: Details for goals the school district wants to accomplish by the end of the 2013-14 school year

What they include: The goals are specific by school, but many of them include improving math and English passing rates to 90 percent.

Anything else: At the high school, the district wants to raise the graduation rate to 90 percent and have 25 percent of seniors taking and passing Advanced Placement exams.

To find out more: Go to http://fcsc.k12.in.us/Page/148. That’s the Web page for the school board. Then scroll down to Strategic Plan Dashboard, where links to the individual school plans are listed.

“We know that all kids can learn. We know that all kids can do this,” Superintendent David Clendening said.

Last year, Franklin created a strategic plan listing goals for success the school district planned to achieve within the next seven years. Those general goals included providing more opportunities for students, developing great teachers and communicating with parents.

What was missing were specific measuring sticks, ways to determine whether those goals were being accomplished each year.

This week the school district laid out those specific measurements, which lists specific goals for all Franklin schools.

All Franklin schools already create an annual school improvement plan, which details assessment scores and grades showing what subjects students have mastered and where improvement is needed. The schools used those plans to create the newer individual goals they’ll meet between now and the end of 2014, Clendening said.

Teachers and principals from each building will review students’ grades and test scores each quarter to see if the students understand what’s being taught, or if they need to adjust their lessons so students can pass ISTEP or the end-of-course assessments.

For example, at the high school, if Algebra I teachers find during the second quarter that students are falling short of the goal, they’ll need to find out why — Do teachers need to spend more time on a lesson or set of lessons? Are students having trouble focusing in class? Are any of the courses being taught too difficult or too easy?

Once teachers have the answers, they can make the necessary changes, Clendening said.

To improve the graduation rate, the high school needs to find more students who are at risk for dropping out and provide more ways to show them why graduating from high school is worth their time.

That could mean providing internships, such as at a tool-and-die shop or job-shadowing an airplane pilot, while also explaining why students need to finish high school and possibly get additional training to get those jobs, the superintendent said.

Clendening also wants Franklin to start preparing students in middle school for the kinds of Advanced Placement courses they’ll be able to take in high school. He said he’d also like for the high school to expand the number of AP courses it offers, adding courses such as physics.

He said that he doesn’t want to prioritize one set of goals over another but added that students’ English and language arts skills need to improve to ensure they’ll be able to succeed in other courses.

“If you can read and discern information, then you have a chance to do math, problem solve and take dual credit,” he said. “With that you’ll be able to graduate on time and enter the workforce or college.”

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