03/10/11 The Indiana Department of Education released the list of 2009-2010 Four Star Schools on Tuesday. Webster Elementary was one of those named for the distinction. According to the I.D.O.E., out of 1,808 public schools, only 188 schools met the criteria to be named a Four Star School. Thirteen of the 261 private schools also received the honor.
Superintendent of Public Instruction, Dr. Tony Bennett said, ““Today I offer sincere congratulations to Indiana’s 2009-10 Four Star Schools as we celebrate their dedication to academics.” “These schools set high expectations for their students on a daily basis, and as a result, students work hard and exceed those expectations. The students and teachers in these schools should be extremely proud of this honor, and I am confident they will continue down this path of success.”
Carrie McGuire, principal of Webster said, “This was a huge team effort by all of my staff.” McGuire said only 20 of the 44 staff members at the school are certified teachers. She said, “We all, teachers, aides, custodians cafeteria workers, and secretaries, live by the mission statement of the Plymouth Schools to “do whatever it takes”. She added, “We all share in upholding the core values that includes integrity. We make each other accountable.”
According to McGuire, this is the third time that Webster has been in the Four Star category having achieved the honor in 2003, and 2004. This ,however ,is the first time that Webster has been in the top category since McGuire become principal five years ago.
McGuire attributes the success to the dedication of the staff and the use of data and research to present material. She said, “We don’t try to just fit the individual student to the program; we adjust the program to the student.” “We try to match our instruction to the needs, strengths and learning styles of the students.” she said.
She also had great praise for the parents/families of Webster students. She said, “We have been able to develop relationships and partnerships with our parents.” On a recent survey, McGuire said that over 98 percent of the families of students were involved in one or more school events.
A score needed to be named a Four Star School that combines both the English/Language Arts and math portions of the ISTEP tests was 83.1 percent for grade 3 and 81.3 percent for grade 4. Webster had a score of 94 percent passing in grade 3 and 93 percent passing in grade 4.
McGuire said, “Our staff is also willing to learn and try new things. They are really “learners” themselves.” She applauded the efforts of the Title I and Special Education teachers for their intervention strategies.
The other three elementary schools in the Plymouth system faired well on the tests, but narrowly missed the Four Star rating. Along with Webster, Jefferson Elementary, Menominee Elementary and Washington Elementary had scores well above the Four Star percentage mark in grade 4. Menominee was only 2.5 percent under the cutoff in Grade 3 and both Jefferson and Washington were approximately 13 percent under the point for the top rating.
In a press release, the IDOE said, “Following numerous inquiries and recommendations from educators regarding what were confusing calculations for the Four Star Schools program, the IDOE’s Office of Accreditation created new benchmarks for the program. These new requirements, which were used to determine the 2009-10 honorees, establish the 25th
Percentile cut score for combined passing percentages for English/ Language Arts and Mathematics as well as the percent of students passing both for all grades tested. Schools that rank in the top 25th percentile for each grade tested and each of these categories
And have made AYP (annual yearly progress) qualify for the Four Star School Award. Additionally, the attendance rate is addressed through AYP verification.”
“For the first time, IDOE reviewed data for non-public schools and included the top non-public schools as honorees. It is, however, important to note that both public schools and non-public schools had their own cut scores and were compared only to like schools— meaning public schools were only compared to other public schools, and non-publics only to non-publics. The calculations were completely independent of one another.”
Carol Anders Correspondent