GREENFIELD — Eden Elementary is the county’s only school to be named a four-star school after the state department of education tightened the criteria for earning the designation.

Statewide, just 41 schools received the designation this year, down from 287 the year before. The award is reserved for the state’s top-performing schools, and this year, the Indiana Department of Education raised the standards for earning the honor, which led to the decrease in schools qualifying, Indiana Department of Education Communication Director Molly Deuberry said in a statement.

The Four-Star School Award was created in 1988 to recognize the state’s best schools. In 2012-13, seven schools received the nod countywide. Last year, eight schools were recognized — the most in the past decade — including all four county high schools.

To be named a four-star school, schools must receive an “A” on the state’s A-F accountability system, test well on ISTEP, carry a high graduation rate (at the high school level) and show success in closing achievement gaps.

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“Receiving designation as a Four Star School signifies a pursuit of academic excellence among both the students and the administration,” Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick said in a news release.

This year, 80 to 85 percent of students were required to pass the ISTEP for schools to earn the designation. Previously, schools had to perform in the upper 25th percentile on the exam, historically a lower threshold, officials said.

Eden Elementary boasted the highest ISTEP scores in the county last school year, with more than 93 percent of students passing both the English and math portions of the exam. Comparatively, the statewide pass rate was much lower, at about 66 percent for the English and language arts section and 59 percent for the math test.

Eden Elementary principal Devon Marine said the school has earned the designation the past three years, and staff and parents are excited the school made the cut again considering the change. He’s proud of their accomplishments, he said.

“The staff and students and families are all amazing. I credit, really, all three of those groups … for the accomplishments,” he said.

With fewer than 200 students, the school is the smallest elementary school in the county, which enables teachers to give students a lot of personalized attention, Marine added.

That’s beneficial when it comes to test time.

“Our staff does a really good job at recognizing student weaknesses and then meeting those students where they are to help them move forward,” he said.

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Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or