School News

News for Justice Thurgood Marshall Intermediate School


Posted: by Patricia Gibson, Communications Director
News Blog Category - News Due to the high number of school cancellations caused by this winter’s extraordinary weather, Marion Community Schools will be lengthening its school day for about two months, to regain lost instructional time in a way that is most effective for continued student success.

This plan is in line with alternative make-up solutions offered recently by the state Department of Education, and it would address the seven days MCS has canceled so far this winter for which waivers were not granted. That means at this time, the make-up days built in at the end of the school year would all still be available, should more cancellations be needed. More importantly, it means that teachers and students would regain instructional time now, when it is needed most, prior to high-stakes testing such as ISTEP+ and IREAD.

“We have explored multiple solutions with a broad base of stakeholders, and we believe this is the best solution to meet the challenges of this extraordinary winter that has caused our children to miss a significant amount of valuable instructional time,” Superintendent Brad Lindsay said. “We will be able to custom fit this extra time at each building and within each department, so that we can maximize this additional learning time and make better possible for our students students prior to essential high-stakes assessments including ISTEP+ and IREAD.”

In general, the plan would add an hour to the school day — moving the start time earlier in the morning, and moving the end time later in the afternoon — starting Monday, Feb. 24, and ending Friday, April 18. In addition, Marion High School will have have no shortened days when this alternate schedule is in place. The MHS schedule would be the same Monday through Friday. (Please see the links at the bottom of this post for specific start and end times at each building during this time.)

This alternate schedule will not be extended past April 18. If further cancellations are needed, the make-up days at the end of the school year will be used. (And if delays are needed during this alternate schedule period, they will be delays starting from the alternate, earlier time.)

We know this change will greatly affect scheduling for our students and their families, along with our staff members. 

In the days leading up to the schedule change, building administrators and district department heads will be working with their staffs to determine the best way to use this additional learning time each day.

We will work to ensure extra-curricular activities have the least disruption possible. And we will work with families to try to make the transition to this modified schedule as smooth as possible.

“There are challenges with any solution when you’re talking about such a high number of cancellations,” Lindsay said. “We believe this gives us our best chance to help all of our students succeed.”

For specific start and end times at each building, click on the links below.
 
Posted: by Patricia Gibson, Communications Director
PLEASE NOTE:
Unfortunately, due to scheduling concerns brought on by weather delays and cancellations, as well as concerns over travel conditions, the MCS family reading night set for Thursday, Jan. 30, has been canceled.
 
The event may be rescheduled at a later date to be announced.
 
We apologize for any inconvenience.



All Marion Community Schools families are invited to join the Giants Reading Team at a special family night next week at Justice Intermediate School.

It will be a night of food, fun, giveaways and special guests: Marion Giants winter sports athletes, who will be reading to students.

The event begins at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 30, at Justice Intermediate, 720 N. Miller Ave. All families with Marion Community Schools students are invited to attend.

 
** Click on the image above to view a full-size flier that you can print and share! **
 
Posted: by Patricia Gibson, Communications Director
IDOE school grades released recently are more evidence that Marion Community Schools is making giant strides in academic achievement.
 
MCS schools earned four “A”s and “B”s for the 2012-13 school year – up from zero in the 2011-12 school year. Overall, the district earned a "C" for the 2012-13 school year – up from an "F" the year before.
 
“We are so proud of our teachers, staff, and administrators, our students and families,” said MCS Superintendent Brad Lindsay. “These score cards reflect the important work that has gone before us in the 2012-13 academic year (and even earlier), and we applaud and thank the Marion team for the extra-mile efforts that produced these improved results.”
 
Halfway through his first year as superintendent of Marion Community Schools, Lindsay said it’s abundantly clear that the foundation is in place for continued success and growth.
 
“The right culture is in place in our schools,” he said. “We have caring, devoted, committed staff members. We have an intentional focus on learning. We have student-friendly, personalized instruction. We are now performing among the best of Indiana schools, and even more giant things are yet to come.”
 
 
Student success = school success
 
It’s that focus on individual students that has paid dividends, said Michele Kelsay, principal of Riverview Elementary School, one of the schools that earned in “A” – up from a “C” in 2011-12.
 
Key to the school’s success, she said, is that teachers and staff are zeroing in on individual students’ specific needs. Multiple assessment tools help gauge those needs, monitor progress, and tailor instruction strategies, she said.
 
“This grade reflects a lot of hard work by everyone involved – teachers and staff, students, and parents,” she said. “We’re very excited that all of that work came together, and we’re very proud of our ‘A’ rating.”
 
At Kendall Elementary School, which earned an “A” rating for the third time in four years, Principal David Khalouf had similar praise.
 
“We definitely have to recognize that the fourth-graders last year were a big part of our success, with the hard work they put in to score as well as they did on ISTEP,” he said.
 
That group of students improved their math ISTEP passage rate by nearly 11 percentage points above their performance as third-graders the year before. They boosted their English/language arts passage rate by nearly 7 percentage points in the same time period.
 
“Overall we know that the work being done in kindergarten through fourth grade contributes to our students’ success, and all of our teachers’ use of data to drive their instruction is key,” Khalouf said. “We want to specifically congratulate and thank last year’s fourth-grade team for really driving home this use of student data to target specific student needs.”
 
He said the efforts of the whole Kendall family – teachers, staff, administrators, students, and parents – are what made this success possible.
 
“We know that it’s a collaborative effort, and we appreciate all of those who helped earn this ‘A’,” Khalouf said, noting that they’re all looking forward to this year’s ISTEP to continue the tradition of excellence.
 
At Frances Slocum Elementary School, too, it was significant gains in ISTEP+ passage rates helped push the school to a “B” in 2012-13, up from an “F” in 2011-12.
 
Last school year, fourth-graders at Frances Slocum improved their ISTEP+ passage rate in math by nearly 30 percentage points compared to their third-grade performance in 2011-12, and improved their English/language arts passage rate by nearly 20 percentage points over the same time period.
 
At the time of the release of those scores in September, then-Principal Melissa Jessup said it validated the process of looking at student data closely and consistently and making sure the right interventions ad research-based instructional strategies were in place.
 
The school is so grateful for support from the community, including outstanding efforts by College Wesleyan Church’s Kids Hope mentors, who work with students and their families, has been key to Frances Slocum’s success.
 
A recent gift from Dollar General – an amazing $40,000 to fund literacy initiatives – is another exciting example of the community support that will enable continued growth at Frances Slocum.
 
 
MHS marks milestone
 
Marion High School earned the district’s other “B” – continuing its steady progress after years on academic probation and even threat of state takeover.
 
“It’s amazing to see how far the high school has come,” said Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Instruction Amy Rauch. “This ‘B’ reflects the dedication and hard work of teachers and administrators, along with the students and also the community.”
 
MHS Principal Lennon Brown expressed pride as well.
 
“I am extremely proud of our students and our faculty and their effort in moving our school forward,” he said. “This shows the reality of what hard work, caring and consideration can do.”
 
But, he emphasized, Marion High School did not reach this milestone alone. He credited support from various organizations that stepped forward and asked how they could help, as well as work by various groups, including the Friends of Marion and the Parent Involvement Committee, the increasingly active PTO, and assistance from clergy and churches in the community.
 
“As it’s said, ‘It takes a village,’” Brown said. “The village has spoken, and for all of this I am extremely thankful.”
 
He also expressed gratitude for all those who work behind the scenes at the school, the administrative staff, and support from district leaders.
 
“Our work, however, is not done,” he said. “To stay where we are and to move higher, we must continue to work enthusiastically, to continue what we’ve done and more.”
 
MHS is solidly a top-tier high school, Superintendent Lindsay said.
 
“From our graduation rate – which at 95 percent is higher than the state rate – to the fact that 65 percent of the Class of 2014 is expected to graduate with at least one college credit already earned via our AP and dual credit offerings, to our outstanding athletics, performing arts, JROTC, and other clubs and activities,” he said, “there’s just no question that we’re providing best-in-class opportunities for our students.”
 
 
Progress seen at all schools
 
The district’s total number of “F”s dropped from four in the 2011-12 school year to only one for the 2012-13 school year.
 
And even in these lower letter grades, there’s evidence of growth. Justice Intermediate School and McCulloch Junior High School both improved from “F”s in 2011-12 to “D”s in 2012-13.
 
Allen Elementary School is the only school that remained in the “F” range.
 
At Allen, there has been a huge culture shift, Superintendent Lindsay noted, fueled in part by extra resources sent the school’s way by the IDOE last summer.
 
This school year, and continuing for two more academic years, a 1003(g) school improvement grant – federal funds directed by the Indiana Department of Education to high-priority schools – is helping fund significant interventions at Allen. Technology improvements and a partnership with EdisonLearning are among the changes these extra resources have made possible.
 
“We are being intentional with the way we are utilizing these extra resources at Allen,” said Superintendent Lindsay, “and we believe the changes we are making are producing results.”
 
The bottom line, he said, is that MCS will continue to support the things that are working, but won’t shy away from changing the things that aren’t, at Allen and across the district.
 
Allen Principal Anthony Williams – who took the helm at the school this school year – echoed that sentiment.
 
“The ‘F’ wasn’t unexpected, and we’re not pleased, but we’ve taken steps from the first day of school to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” he said. “We’ve acknowledged from day one that this would be our focus.”
 
He said support from every level – the state, the school district, Allen leadership, teachers, and the community – has been key to making the ongoing changes possible.
 
Williams emphasized a “very strong” intervention process that is allowing staff to get to the root of individual students’ issues, whether they be academic, behavioral, or social, and to tailor strategies to help them address those issues – and then track progress.
 
At McCulloch Junior High School, partnerships are also key to continued improvement.
 
Partnerships with education and business experts, spurred by participation in the Indiana Leadership Academy at Indiana University, are already paying dividends at the school. The ILA brought business and education experts together to take an intensive look at the school’s challenges, using turnaround models from the business world as the source of ideas and possible solutions.
 
The school earned a “D” for the 2012-13 school year, up from an “F” in 2011-12.
 
“The gains we’ve made are incredible,” said McCulloch Principal Jim Fox, “but the success we have ahead of us will be something previously unseen.”
 
Through participation in the ILA, school leaders have determined a great need at McCulloch is a renewed focus on a major issue for many of its students: reading skills.
 
“We have a clear vision, a clear timeline, and we will be communicating with parents so they can be arm-in-arm with us as we continue to advance,” Fox said.
 
He credited the “phenomenal” teachers at McCulloch for the school’s improvement.
 
“It all goes right back to instruction in the classroom,” he said.
 
And that will only continue to improve, he said, with great opportunities for professional development that are arising from the partnerships spurred by the ILA.
 
At Justice Intermediate School, a partnership with EdisonLearning during the 2012-13 school year laid the groundwork for continuing growth, Principal Melissa Richards said.
 
The school earned a “D” for the 2012-13 school year – Richards first as Justice principal. That’s up from an “F” in 2011-12.
 
“We were disappointed we didn’t get to a ‘C’,” she said. “But we know change takes time, and although we’re not happy with a ‘D’, we’re happy with growth.”
 
Last year was a time of major change at Justice.
 
“Any time you have a change in leadership, then you bring in a partner like Edison, getting everybody on the same page and working together is a process,” Richards said.
 
But the work with Edison gave local leaders a different perspective, she said, noting the school would continue to benefit from the work with Edison for years to come.
 
Richards emphasized the change in culture at the school, pointing to the fact that the number of discipline referrals was cut in half from 2011-12 to 2012-13.
 
“We’ve built a community of learners,” she said. “Now the next step is taking a deeper look at curriculum and teaching strategies. It’s all a process. Being better takes time. We’re going to keep doing the things that we know make us better.
Posted: by Patricia Gibson, Communications Director
Preliminary ISTEP+ results released by the state Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013, show Marion Community Schools students at every grade level displayed growth as compared to their previous year’s scores.

The most impressive growth can be seen in scores from Frances Slocum Elementary School, where last school year’s fourth-graders improved their ISTEP+ passage rate in math by 28.4 percentage points as compared to their third-grade performance. The same group saw a 19.3 percentage point jump in English/language arts year-over-year.

Those results validate the process of looking at data closely and consistently and making sure the right interventions are in place to help students grow, Frances Slocum Principal Melissa Jessup said. Based on 2012 data, she said, they had identified vocabulary as an area of need for their students. So they put research-based instructional strategies to use to address that need.

“This makes us even more motivated to look deeper at the data, look deeper at the interventions, and start those interventions even earlier,” she said. “We know that consistency with implementation of instructional strategies can pay off.”

She emphasized the importance of that consistency and of clear communication of expectations, plans, and strategies.

“It takes a team of people with a common goal moving forward very intentionally,” she said.

At Justice Intermediate School, students also logged impressive gains. Last school year’s sixth-graders improved their ISTEP+ passage rate in English/language arts by 10.7 percentage points as compared to their fifth-grade performance. And last year’s fifth-graders improved their math passage rate by 9 percentage points over their fourth-grade performance.

At Kendall Elementary, last year's fourth-graders made big gains in English/language arts, improving their ISTEP+passage rates by 10.9 percentage points over their third-grade performance. In math, the same group improved 4.6 percentage points over their third-grade passing rate.

At Allen Elementary, last year's fourth-graders achieved a big improvement in their math ISTEP+ passage rate, up 10.9 percentage points over their third-grade performance. And in English/language arts, the same group improved 6.6 percentage points over their previous year's rate.

Riverview Elementary's fourth-graders improved over their previous year's passage rates as well, up 6.7 percentage points in math and 4.3 percentage points in English/language arts.

And at McCulloch, last year's seventh- and eighth-graders made improvements as well. The seventh-graders boosted their ISTEP+ passage rates by 3 percentage points in math and by 1.3 percentage points in English/language arts. The eighth-graders achieved a 3.8 percentage point improvement in English/language arts and a 1.3 percentage point improvement in math.

“This is a positive report for our students and Marion Community Schools,” Superintendent Brad Lindsay said. “Our returning teachers and school leaders as well as the entire 2012-2013 staff should be proud of their work.” 

Students’ growth is an indicator that improvements made in recent years in MCS school buildings – from leadership and staffing changes, to designated  time for professional development and collaboration, to a focus on intentional implementation of research-based strategies and data-based decision making - have had an impact, she said.

“Everything that has been put in place is beginning to pay off,” she said.

But it’s not just the changes inside MCS school buildings that have helped students succeed, McVicker said.

“Our principals are intentional at meeting the needs of our staff and students, our teachers are intentional at meeting the needs of our students, but it’s just as important that our community has been intentional in supporting our students,” she said.

Jessup, principal at Frances Slocum, echoed that, emphasizing the community partners that have helped Frances Slocum make progress. She specifically cited College Wesleyan Church and the Frances Slocum PTO as key supporters, and she expressed gratitude for the support of parents.

And she said the progress shown in the ISTEP+ scores will only serve to motivate all involved to help every student reach his or her potential.

“The important thing is that our students are achieving and growing,” she said. “The bottom line is we want 100 percent of our students to grow every single day.”

That same motivation is spurring progress across the district, the superintendent said.

“I believe progress is being made as a result of the healthy culture and relationships being developed and the intentional instructional focus of what we want our students to learn, know and be able to do,” Lindsay said.

And in areas where strong student growth is not immediately clear in the ISTEP+ results released publicly Wednesday, school leaders are digging deeper into the data to see where improvements have been made and where additional intentional focus needs to be moving forward.

“What you don’t see in the public numbers,” said McCulloch Junior High School Principal Jim Fox, “is which specific portions students did well on. We’re still analyzing our numbers, but already what we’re seeing as we drill down into that deeper data is growth in the area of writing.”

That is encouraging, he said, because that was a point of emphasis for McCulloch staff and students last year.

The writing portion is scored on a 1-6 scale, he explained, and McCulloch last year challenged its students to score a 4 or above. According to data from the DOE, 78 percent of last year’s eighth-graders met that challenge. The year before, as seventh-graders, only 71 percent of them had done so.

Despite the gains across the district, there is certainly still room for improvement in every area at every level, as a look at the passage rates can clearly show.

“Lasting change takes time,” MCS Director of Elementary Education Brenda McVicker said. “We’re seeing steady progress.”

Superintendent Lindsay said he is looking forward to even betterthings.

“In Marion Community Schools,” he said, “our best has only begun!”
 
A look at year-over-year growth by grade level
Here’s a look at growth year over year across the district:

Notables:
  • Though this does not directly track individual students’ progress, it does reveal progress as a group of students continues to the next grade level, and takes the ISTEP+ for that level.
  • Nine out of 10 such content area comparisons (English/language arts and math at each grade level, fourth through eighth) demonstrate growth.

MCS ISTEP+ passage rates (spring 2013 and percentage point change since previous grade in 2012)

Fourth grade (2013) vs. third grade (2012)
  • English/language arts: 76.5%, up 7.3 percentage points over 2012 third grade passage rate
  • Math: 81, up 12.3 percentage points over 2012 third grade passage rate
  • ISTEP+ (both portions): 71.8%, up 12.5 percentage points over 2012 third grade passage rate

Fifth grade (2013) vs. fourth grade (2012)
  • English/language arts: 60.4%, down 6 percentage points from 2012 fourth grade passage rate
  • Math: 73.2%, up 9 percentage points over 2012 fourth grade passage rate
  • STEP+ (both portions): 55.3%, down one-tenth of a percentage point from 2012 fourth grade passage rate
Sixth grade (2013) vs. fifth grade (2012)
  • English/language arts: 70.1%, up 10.7 percentage points over 2012 fifth grade passage rate
  • Math: 70.8%, up 2.4 percentage points over 2012 fifth grade passage rate
  • ISTEP+ (both portions): 62.6%, up 6.6 percentage points over 2012 fifth grade passage rate
Seventh grade (2013) vs. sixth grade (2012)
  • English/language arts: 56.6%, up 1.3 percentage points over 2012 sixth grade passage rate
  • Math: 63.2%, up 3 percentage points over 2012 sixth grade passage rate
  • ISTEP+ (both portions): 47.3%, up six-tenths of a percentage point over 2012 sixth grade passage rate
Eighth grade (2013) vs. seventh grade (2012)
  • English/language arts: 63.7%, up 3.8 percentage points over 2012 seventh grade passage rate
  • Math: 71%, up 1.3 percentage points over 2012 seventh grade passage rate
  • ISTEP+ (both portions): 58.1%, up 1.9 percentage points over 2012 seventh grade passage rate

A look at the numbers by grade level
Here’s a look at passage rates grade by grade across the district:

Notables:
  • Grades four, five, and six displayed improvement in both English/language arts and math from 2012.
  • Grade four was the strongest-performing grade level across the district in both English/language arts and math

MCS ISTEP+ passage rates (spring 2013 compared to spring 2012)

Third grade
  • English/language arts: 2013: 66.1% passed E/LA; 2012: 69.2% passed
  • Math: 2013: 64.4% passed; 2012: 68.7% passed
  • ISTEP+ (both portions): 2013: 56.2% passed; 2012: 59.3% passed
Fourth grade
  • English/language arts: 2013: 76.5% passed E/LA; 2012: 66.4% passed
  • Math: 2013: 81% passed; 2012: 64.2% passed
  • STEP+ (both portions): 2013: 71.8% passed; 2012: 55.4% passed
Fifth grade
  • English/language arts: 2013: 60.4% passed E/LA; 2012: 59.4% passed
  • Math: 2013: 73.2% passed; 2012: 68.4% passed
  • ISTEP+ (both portions): 2013: 55.3% passed; 2012: 56% passed
Sixth grade
  • English/language arts: 2013: 70.1% passed E/LA; 2012: 55.3% passed
  • Math: 2013: 70.8% passed; 2012: 60.2% passed
  • ISTEP+ (both portions): 2013: 62.6% passed; 2012: 46.7% passed
Seventh grade
  • English/language arts: 2013: 56.6% passed E/LA; 2012: 59.9% passed
  • Math: 2013: 63.2% passed; 2012: 69.7% passed
  • ISTEP+ (both portions): 2013: 47.3% passed; 2012: 56.2% passed
Eighth grade
  • English/language arts: 2013: 63.7% passed E/LA; 2012: 64.8% passed
  • Math: 2013: 71% passed; 2012: 56.3% passed
  • ISTEP+ (both portions): 2013: 58.1% passed; 2012: 49.6% passed

A look at the numbers by school
Here’s a look at passage rates at each MCS school (spring 2012 compared to spring 2013):

Allen Elementary
Third grade
  • English/language arts: 2013: 52.1% passed E/LA; 2012: 55.2% passed
  • Math: 2013: 55.4% passed; 2012: 55.2% passed
  • ISTEP+ (both portions): 2013: 46.5% passed; 2012: 44.8% passed
Fourth grade
  • English/language arts: 2013: 61.8% passed E/LA; 2012: 62.3% passed
  • Math: 2013: 66.1% passed; 2012: 60.7% passed
  • ISTEP+ (both portions): 2013: 50.9% passed; 2012: 49.2% passed
Frances Slocum Elementary
Third grade
  • English/language arts: 2013: 62.5% passed E/LA; 2012: 53.2% passed
  • Math: 2013: 58.1% passed; 2012: 52.1% passed
  • ISTEP+ (both portions): 2013: 48.6% passed; 2012: 36.2% passed
Fourth grade
  • English/language arts: 2013: 72.5% passed E/LA; 2012: 50% passed
  • Math: 2013: 80.5% passed; 2012: 47.5% passed
  • ISTEP+ (both portions): 2013: 67.5% passed; 2012: 40% passed
Kendall Elementary
Third grade
  • English/language arts: 2013: 67.4% passed E/LA; 2012: 78.7% passed
  • Math: 2013: 70.6% passed; 2012: 76.6% passed
  • STEP+ (both portions): 2013: 60.7 passed; 2012: 69.4% passed
Fourth grade
  • English/language arts: 2013: 83.3% passed E/LA; 2012: 72.4% passed
  • Math: 2013: 87.5% passed; 2012: 62.3% passed
  • STEP+ (both portions): 2013: 81.8% passed; 2012: 55.2% passed

Riverview Elementary
Third grade
  • English/language arts: 2013: 81.9% passed E/LA; 2012: 77.5% passed
  • Math: 2013: 72.6% passed; 2012: 79% passed
  • ISTEP+ (both portions): 2013: 68.1% passed; 2012: 71.3% passed
Fourth grade
  • English/language arts: 2013: 81.8% passed E/LA; 2012: 69.6% passed
  • Math: 2013: 85.7% passed; 2012: 76.1% passed
  • ISTEP+ (both portions): 2013: 79% passed; 2012: 66.3% passed

Justice Intermediate
Fifth grade
  • English/language arts: 2013: 60.4% passed E/LA; 2012: 59.4% passed
  • Math: 2013: 73.2% passed; 2012: 68.4% passed
  • ISTEP+ (both portions): 2013: 55.3% passed; 2012: 56% passed
Sixth grade
  • English/language arts: 2013: 70.1% passed E/LA; 2012: 55.3% passed
  • Math: 2013: 70.8% passed; 2012: 60.2% passed
  • ISTEP+ (both portions): 2013: 62.6% passed; 2012: 46.7% passed
McCulloch Junior High
Seventh grade
  • English/language arts: 2013: 56.6% passed E/LA; 2012: 59.9% passed
  • Math: 2013: 63.2% passed; 2012: 69.7% passed
  • ISTEP+ (both portions): 2013: 47.3% passed; 2012: 56.2% passed
Eighth grade
  • English/language arts: 2013: 63.7% passed E/LA; 2012: 64.8% passed
  • Math: 2013: 71% passed; 2012: 56.3% passed
  • ISTEP+ (both portions): 2013: 58.1% passed; 2012: 49.6% passed

Posted: by Patricia Gibson, Communications Director
Parents can now access ISTEP+ scoring reports for last school year's test.

To access their student's scores from Spring 2013, parents should log on to the state Department of Education's Indiana Parent Network.

Parents who have forgotten their username or password can retrieve those through the Parent Network website above. Those who have never created an account should watch their mail in the next few days, as Marion Community Schools will be sending letters to parents with Invitation Codes needed for that registration process. Parents who need further information should contact their child's school. (Click here for contact information for all MCS schools.)

Parents can also request a rescore of open-ended items/essay for English/language arts, mathematics and social studies portions of the test. Those requests must be made before Sept. 30. More information is available to parents through the Parent Network website.

A wider view of performance data by grade level is to be released by the DOE later this month. The individual student data available now is only for parents’ review, not for the general public.