Honors for school district’s practices positive sign

Students’ parents rightly have high expectations of schools: educate their children well, foster an environment conducive to learning and provide opportunities for personal growth. In short, they want schools to have a positive impact.

It’s good news, then, that the Indiana Department of Education thinks some of Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp.’s programs are doing just that.

The DOE bestowed on Bartholomew Consolidated two recent Promising Practices honors. Those are awarded when school district practices are found to be student-centered and focused on positively impacting students.

The first honor, given in May, was for its dedication to creating an inclusive learning environment through the district’s main educational model, Universal Design for Learning. It’s intended to meet each student where they are in their educational development. Not only has Universal Design for Learning helped the general student population, but it’s also benefited special-needs students. Graduation rates and ISTEP+ passing rates for special-needs students increased consistently from 2009 to 2014, for example.

The second honor, awarded in June, was for customizing its teacher-evaluation system, as the district modified the state-provided teacher-assessment template to show how well the local teachers utilize Universal Design for Learning in their lessons.

Bartholomew Consolidated has been in the spotlight for its innovative approaches to learning, as school leaders have made presentations to other educators across the state and nation about Universal Design for Learning, and its method for assessing teacher performance. That, in itself, is validation for what it’s doing.

However, the honors from the Indiana Department of Education reinforce that Bartholomew Consolidated is striving for high standards and positive impacts on students.