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April 7, 2020

3/25/2020 1:18:00 PM
Report ranks Jennings Schools at 48th in state
A new independent report recently announced its 2020 top school district rankings for Indiana. The report ranked Jennings County School Corp. (JCSC) 48th out of the top 100 school districts in the state.

(The annual school performance reports for JCSC, which are different from this study, are published in legal advertisements on pages 8B and 9B.)

While all schools in Jennings County and statewide are closed until at least May because of the coronavirus pandemic, the report provides some good news for JCSC amid these otherwise gloomy days, pointed out Theresa Brown.

"I am extremely proud of the work we have been doing in Jennings County," said Brown, JCSC superintendent. "We know there are great things happening in our schools and classrooms. Our educators are top notch and are achieving at a high level every day. We have much to celebrate and it feels good to have a high ranking that supports our efforts."

The report, conducted by backgroundchecks.org, highlights school districts that have produced the highest quality education environments for their students. The analysis covers a variety of metrics for over 10,000 schools nationwide and ranks the top 100 school districts in each state. There are 327 school districts in Indiana.

"Some of these differences in performance stem from the additional resources certain school districts have access too, which, in turn, leads to better scholastic conditions and a stronger education for students involved," the report says.

Other area schools ranked on the list of the top 100 were Seymour Community Schools at 57, Greensburg Commu­nity Schools at 61, Batesville Community School Corp. 69 and South Ripley Community School Corp. at 80.

Factors determining the rankings were based on assessing crucial scholastic and financial metrics, including student-to-teacher ratio, standardized test scores, teacher quality, school funding, and graduation rate. The information was gathered from databases at the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Department of Education.

"We believe this is the highest ranking Jennings County schools have received to date," Brown said.

The superintendent cited multiple reasons for JCSC earning the lofty ranking.

"We have focused on specific goal areas and strategies. Our strategic planning team and committees have been working to drive forward improvements with 'Keeping Kids in School,' 'Improving Academic Achievement and Growth' and 'Educating the Whole Child,'" she said.

"We use data and our decisions are intentional and driven by results, not assumptions. We have expanded programming across the district like preschool, transition kindergarten, STEM labs, Trust Based Rela­tions and Intervention (TBRI), Hope Squad, new textbooks and more. We have expanded our course offerings, professional learning opportunities and resources available to students," Brown added.

"Our school board has made a commitment to focus on what is best for our kids, including facility improvements and upgrading buildings to be safe and secure. Over the last two years, our high school has had improvements to every athletic area: football, baseball, softball, tennis, track, basketball, locker rooms and more, along with a new wrestling complex and an expanded weight room that will be ready this fall. Our kids deserve the best and we are ensuring they get it," Brown continued.

All that is paying off in big ways for JCSC, the superintendent believes.

"We are functioning as a team across the district and I believe that is causing us to achieve at higher levels," she said. "This includes the response we have received from the community. We have many partners from our local businesses and industries, who have reached out and offered time, donations, guidance etc. They are making us better and in turn we are providing students more ready for them. We are a community focused on the same goals."

Brown expressed pride, too, in how many of the improvements are being funded without adding to the tax burden.

"We have applied for and been awarded many grants that have provided us with more funding. Over the last three years we have received over $1.5 million in grants," she noted.

The public is not always aware of the progress being made by JCSC, in Brown's opinion, something she and her staff are striving to change.

"While the vast majority of our community is supportive of public education and JCSC, we sometimes have individuals who want to focus on all they perceive is wrong with our schools," Brown said. "We have really worked hard to share our story with our community."

The future will bring more progress at JCSC, Brown predicts.

"We are always pushing forward and thinking about where to go next. We are blessed with great educators and leaders who are not satisfied," she said.

"It is important for us to stop and celebrate our accomplishments, but remain hungry for more. As Howard Jones (a Jennings County High School teacher and coach) likes to say, 'We are greedy for our kids.'" Brown added.

The full report can be read online at backgroundchecks.org/top-school-districts-in-indiana.html.

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