Local schools earn top honor

HANCOCK COUNTY — For the first time in at least a decade, all four county high schools have been rated as four-star by the state.

Countywide, eight schools received the honor from the department of education. Statewide, 287 schools were rated four-star, a designation reserved for the state’s top performing schools.

To be named a four-star school, schools must perform in the upper 25th percentile on ISTEP and end-of-course exams and be rated an A school by the state’s accountability program.

All four county high schools joined the four-star ranks for the 2014-15 school year, the Indiana Department of Education announced this week.

Four other local schools — Eden, Weston and J.B. Stephens elementary schools in Greenfield and Doe Creek Middle School — also earned the distinction.

Historically, at least three schools have been regarded as four-star. Twice in the past decade, six schools were rewarded. In 2012-13, seven schools received the nod countywide.

Greenfield-Central Schools superintendent Harold Olin said he was pleasantly surprised to learn the high school was one of the district’s top performers last year.

In recent years, educators have worked to bring up student test scores and offered remediation programs to reach students on the verge of failing. Those efforts are beginning to pay off, he said, and the four-star rating is proof of that.

Of the eight schools recognized with the honor, four of them are Greenfield-Central schools.

Olin said the distinction is a compliment to educators’ efforts. State standards are becoming more rigorous at all levels of schooling, and teachers are stepping up to meet the demands, he said.

“It certainly reinforces and proves that we’re setting a good foundation for our learners,” he said.

Achieving four-star status is a community effort, Doe Creek Middle School Principal Jim Voelz wrote in an email to the Daily Reporter. It’s a result of the hard work that takes place in school and at home.

“We are also very lucky to have parents who send their children to school ready to learn every day,” Voelz wrote. “Education and supporting schools is a huge priority in this community.”

New Palestine High School has earned the recognition nine times in the past 10 years.

It’s a terrific honor for the students, staff and the entire community, said Keith Fessler, principal of New Palestine High School.

He’s particularly pleased with the current senior class, which has met the high standards of students who came before them by performing well.

Dave Pfaff, principal of Eastern Hancock High School, said the school’s small enrollment benefits students. Teachers are able to provide remediation and beyond to help students meet standards and master subjects.

“As a small school, we are able to keep a close eye on each student and be proactive as he/she struggles in subject or overall. We are not hesitant to implement educational, emotional, or social measures designed for an individual student to address obstacles,” Pfaff wrote in an email to the Daily Reporter.

Top tier

Eight Hancock County schools — including all four high schools — were rated four-star schools for the 2014-2015 school year.

The Indiana Department of Education announced four-star schools this week.

Schools that receive an A rating during the school year and perform in the upper 25th percentile on ISTEP and end of course exams are eligible for the honor.

Hancock County schools rated as four-star are:

Greenfield-Central Schools

-Eden Elementary

-J.B. Stephens

-Weston Elementary

-Greenfield-Central High School

Southern Hancock School Corp.

-Doe Creek Middle School

-New Palestine High School

Eastern Hancock Community Schools

-Eastern Hancock High School

Mt. Vernon School Corp.

-Mt. Vernon High School

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Kristy Deer is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3262 or kdeer@greenfieldreporter.com.