The letter grade was a combination of two evaluations determined by the state, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB), Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and Public Law 221.
Assistant Superintendent Tim Rayle presented the corporation's progress report during September's school board meeting.
The Indiana Department of Education released the annual Public Law 221 data for all state schools.
This year, the results included the new letter grade categories.
According to Rayle and CCS Superintendent Kimberly Tucker, the letter grades given were based on the following three categories, performance of all students who passed the state standardized tests scores including the ISTEP+ and the end of course exams for Algebra 1 and English 10 (otherwise known as the graduating qualifying exam or GQE), improvement in the passing percentage over a three-year period and AYP.
CCS as a whole did make 2011 AYP.
Tucker said the corporation has been improving.
"As a district, CCS has raised rates for students taking state tests in English and Mathematics from 73.4 percent in 2008 to 77.6 percent in 2011," Tucker explained. "The district has made AYP for the last three years. However, due to a level of overall improvement in the last three years, which did not surpass 1 percent, the letter grade assigned was a D."
Tucker said she's satisfied with the majority of the results.
"I am very proud of those schools who received an A rating from the IDOE," Tucker said. "I am also pleased that one of our title schools, Meridian Elementary, received a B rating and has made steady growth for the last three years, now maintaining an over 80 percent pass rate in both language arts and math for all students."
The pass rate is a 0.3 percent improvement rate from Meridian's first score.
However, Tucker added she isn't satisfied with some aspects of the evaluation system itself, specifically the issue with the state capping schools who fail to meet all AYP categories.
"I am very disappointed that the state must combine AYP, a component of the federal legislation, NCLB with PL 221 to determine the letter grade designations," Tucker said. "It prevented Northview from receiving an A with a pass percentage rate of 84.9 percent and 11.9 percent improvement."
Regardless of Northview's successful improvement and high test results, the secondary school was capped at a C because there was not 95 percent participation.
According to Tucker, Clay Community high schools chose not to enroll students in Algebra 1 or English 10 who do not have the academic foundation to be successful at this time.
"These students are first enrolled in an accelerated pre-course program. Therefore, NHS does not make the 95 percent participation category under AYP," Tucker said.
Rayle said the letter grades are not always the only important information to analyze.
"If I were one of these children's parents, I'd rather see my child attending a school with a 97.2 percent test pass rate and a letter grade of C, than a 60 percent pass rate earning an A," Rayle explained. "Parents don't see it that way though. They just look at the letter and make a judgment call based on the grade."
Clay City Junior/Senior High School rose from a probation status last year under PL 221, and received a C this year.
"The staff provided their revised improvement plan to the board of school trustees last spring, and evidently, it's working," Tucker said. "Their overall pass percentage raised them to 69.9 percent and 2.8 percent improvement."
According to Tucker, North Clay Middle School has struggled in the last several years to maintain achievement growth, and missed AYP. They lost 3 percent from 74.2 percent pass rate to 71.2 percent and received a D.
"Efforts have been underway there," Tucker reassured, "and the staff will continue to make changes in the instructional program and curriculum to provide consistent growth."
Eastside Elementary has also struggled to increase overall student achievement, and missed AYP.
The school's overall pass percentage was 68.7 percent, with improvement of less than 1 percent. Eastside's overall letter grade was a D.
"The staff has been involved in a state sponsored process known as 8 Step, which has shown some exciting promise for instructional program improvement," Tucker said.
Despite the fact that Forest Park Elementary (FPE) made AYP two years ago and had some of the highest grade level percentages in the district, the school missed AYP by 2 out of 15 categories this year.
FPE received an overall D letter grade, despite raising their overall pass percentage to 77.9 percent, a 0.9 percent improvement.
Clay City Elementary made AYP, and received an A with a pass performance of 85.9 percent, a 4.9 percent improvement.
Jackson Township Elementary made AYP, and garnered an A with a pass performance of 90.7 percent and a 1.7 percent three-year-average improvement. However, the school's current year improvement is -4.3 percent.
Staunton Elementary made AYP and received an A, with a pass performance of 91.6 percent and a 0.5 percent improvement rate.
Van Buren Elementary made AYP and achieved an A, with a pass performance of 84.4 percent and an 11.3 percent improvement rate.
Meridian Elementary made AYP and received a B, with a pass performance of 80.2 percent. The school's current year improvement rate is -5.7, and the three-year improvement rate is 0.3 percent.
"Receiving a D grade for the school corporation from the department of education made me think, 'the beatings will continue until morale improves,'" Tucker said. "I hope I speak for the school community in saying that CCS provides a very good educational program for the more than 4,300 students."
Tucker added, "These children can achieve at a higher level. We must continue to focus on each and every classroom to determine what can be accomplished to improve the quality of instruction to meet the needs of every student."