Carmel, Zionsville remain state's top ISTEP school districts

INDIANAPOLIS - Carmel Clay Schools and Zionsville Community Schools earned perfect scores on the Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress in 2013.

Related Story: ISTEP statewide scores

Parents and school officials say there's no secret to ISTEP success: a partnership among teachers, parents, and students makes excellence a top priority.

Parent Lourdes Pineda and her family just moved to Carmel and she said she came for a purpose.

"We were relocating from Texas and we're looking at a place where we can raise kids in good schools and everyone told us about Carmel schools," Pineda said.

Carmel Clay Schools was ISTEP's top-performing district with Carmel students scoring 93-percent in English and Math.

Just behind Carmel is Zionsville Community Schools at 92.8 percent. Educators say parents play a major part in the success of the two districts.

"It's not really a secret sauce," ZCS Superintendent Scott Robinson said. "It's parent engagement early with kids, kids working hard, and teachers aligning with those aims to do well educationally."

Carmel and Zionsville are also affluent communities, but teachers say money doesn't buy high test scores.

Barbara Rice is a retired township teacher in a district that doesn't perform well on ISTEP.

"We have parents we have to beg to come versus other school systems where they're more affluent and they volunteer," Rice said.

Carmel parents point to great teachers and a city that puts a high value on educational success.

"It's unbelievable. There's no child that's left hanging out there without that extra support if needed," parent Angee Grogan said.

While Zionsville is one of the richest communities in the state, the school district's per-pupil state aid is below average and has forced the district to make big cuts that could increase in the future.

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