Your support of our schools, evidenced through your attendance at our annual Parent/Teacher Conferences, is just one of the very many reasons Tri-County Schools are great! We value your partnership in making our schools even better.
The standardized test debacle which has existed the past few years has put public schools in the news on a daily basis. In 2013-2014 the online version of the ISTEP test failed, causing scores to be scrutinized. With the promise of a new assessment in the spring of 2014-2015 our students and teachers reached higher in preparation of the unknown. “What content standards would this test cover?” “What will the new format be?” “How many hours of tests will our students have to endure?” “What will the results indicate?” This last question is still without resolve.
Last week the State Board of Education met to set cut scores only to delay once more due to a discrepancy between the online test and paper/pencil test. Seven months removed from the administration of the 2014-2015 Spring ISTEP we still don’t know when we will have student results. In a data-driven environment this delay effects the creation of our School Improvement Plans, individual students growth goals, planning instruction to improve in weak areas, finalization of last year’s teacher evaluations, and most importantly, notifying you of your child’s progress.
What we have been told from the state is that 50% of Indiana students in grade 3-8 have failed the Math portion of the assessment while the English/Language Arts results are not much better. We have also been informed that 50% of all schools in Indiana will receive a letter grade of D or F based on these results. When all of this is finally sorted out in the months to come the results will undoubtedly be the lead story in news agencies across the state.
At Tri-County we believe in accountability, we own the scores we receive and we embrace the challenge of improvement. We live by our tagline REACH HIGHER and work tirelessly to improve. This past year we adopted a new teacher evaluation system and took on the project of curriculum mappings throughout the corporation for the purpose of increasing the capacity of our already strong instructional staff. However, we don’t believe that a letter grade based solely on the test score from one assessment paint the picture of who Tri-County Schools truly are. If we are to be evaluated for our worth we believe many factors should be taken into consideration. Below is a partial list of the data, initiatives and programs we so proudly have in place to support our students.
· We offer a Developmental Kindergarten class to provide essential skills to our young children prior to entering the rigors of our Traditional Kindergarten
· For the next five years we will offer all Traditional Kindergarten students a $150 college savings account through our Future Scholars Program
· In our elementary schools our students set improvement goals based on scores from IXL, NWEA, Star Reading, Star Math, and Reading Counts
· We recognize and celebrate student goal attainment and achievement through our REACH HIGHER awards posted on Facebook and Twitter
· Our 2015 3rd grade IREAD assessment pass rate is 98.3% pass rate
· We offer academic competitions beginning in elementary and continuing through high school including Spell Bowl, Math Bowl, Academic Super Bowl and Science Olympiad
· We are a 1:1 technology school in grades K-12. All K-4th grade students have daily access to iPads while 5th and 6th grade students have school access to laptops. In grades 7-12 our students have 24 hour access to their laptop
· We were awarded a Digital Learning Grant in the amount of $100,000 to further integrate technology in instruction and add Instructional Technology Specialists to our staff
· Our dual credit, AP and ACP courses offer students as many as 33 college credits while still in high school
· We have reached the Top Ten schools in Indiana for the percentage of students earning an Academic Honors Diploma
· We offer APEX online courses for both credit recovery and enrichment
· Our latest graduation rate was 90%, the highest in Tri-County history
· Annually our seniors receive over $130,000 in scholarships
· We have award winning co-curricular programs in FFA, BPA and Marching Band – we’ve had multiple state and national winners as well as state officers represent TC
· For students who choose to participate in extra-curricular activities we have twelve sports and a plethora of clubs and organizations in grades K-12
· We provide numerous opportunities for Professional Development for our teachers, focused on innovative instruction and integration of technology
· All three principals as well as the superintendent lead book studies for our staff
· The School Board has established a long-term Strategic Plan focused on increasing enrollment, aligning curriculum and integrating technology
· We continually maintain and improve our facilities and are proud of the recent renovation at TCI
· We have a student-led backpack food program which provides food to students and their families each weekend
· The parent support we receive through our PTO, Parent Connect, Athletic Boosters, Advisory Council and volunteers is outstanding
· Our schools make home to school connection through programs such as the Daddy Daughter Dance, Donuts for Mom, reading nights and much more
· Community agencies and partners such as our local law enforcement, fire and rescue squads, area businesses, 4-H program, and Weekday Religious Education are welcome and prevalent in our schools
As you can see, simply looking at a singular letter grade issued by the state does not define Tri-County. We thank you for trusting us with your child, having confidence in our educational practices and collaborating with us as together we continue to REACH HIGHER.
Dr. Kathy Goad