Lexington Elementary School was named a Four Star School by the Indiana Department of Education — a designation for schools in the top 25th percentile of school in the state.
“It’s pretty impressive. It reflects the hard work the staff and the students have put in,” said Nick South, LES principal. Prior to becoming LES’ principal this school year, South was a teacher at the elementary school with 18 years of experience. “This designation is a way of highlighting everything we’ve done out here.”
To earn this recognition, LES placed in the top 25th percentile of schools in two Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress-based categories. This means the state-accredited school earned an “A” accountability grade from the IDOE, is in the top 25th percentile of schools with students who passed the English/Language Arts and Math portions of the ISTEP test, and had 95 percent or more of the students taking the ISTEP test.
“We have a strong academic tradition,” South said. For nearly a decade, LES earned an “A” accountability grade from the state. “The parents are great. The support staff is great. The teachers are great. The students are great.”
“This is kind of like we’ve finally made it to the goal,” said Chuck Rose, director of elementary education at Scott County School District 2 and former principal of LES for 16 years. “I’m so proud of the staff. I’ve seen them work so hard.”
To uphold its strong academic tradition, the staff of LES focuses on how to they can help their students achieve, learn, and thrive beyond their elementary school years. The staff works together to review data and trends to keep improving on the successes the school has had in the previous year. Through this process, teachers and staff found ways to bolster their math, reading and writing instruction by using programs through Renaissance Learning, such as MathFacts and Accelerated Reader.
“We do not teach to the test,” South said. “We identify issues before they become issues. We’re very proactive out here. [...] Everyone gets to know their kids as individuals. The school success is dependent on community and parental support.”
In the days leading up to the test, South said the teachers work with the students. The students learn test-taking strategies, how to extract information from the text, about good sleeping habits, and why eating a balanced meal or snack before the test is important. Before each day of the test, the school parent-teacher organization provides treats and encouragement to the students. Further, the school gives motivational incentives to its students for making a good effort on the test. Students earn points toward a positive reward.
“Most of our kids earn the points,” Rose said.
In addition to the Four Star School status, LES was also selected as one of eight schools in the state for the U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon Award. The winners of the Blue Ribbon Award will be announced next week.
“The distinction is well-deserved for the staff, new and old. It’s a good reflection of what we are doing out here. I’m immensely proud,” South said.