BATESVILLE, INDIANA — Three outcome-based goals set by the school board of the Batesville Community School Corporation (BCSC) have provided a strategic framework that is reflected in the district’s most recent accomplishments, such as an exemplary IREAD-3 pass rate and upgraded athletic facilities, announced superintendent Paul Ketcham.
“Several years ago, the BCSC school board set some long-range goals,” Ketcham said. “The first of those is to have our students performing at or above grade level in all areas of the Indiana Academic Standards. The second focuses on developing attractive and well-maintained facilities, which enhance overall performance. The third, and last, is to work together to provide students with a well-balanced, safe, and productive environment to promote overall wellness.”
BCSC posted an impressive 96.4% pass rate—eighth in the entire state—for third graders taking the IREAD-3 during the last school year. Considering that Hoosier third-graders, as a whole, are still recovering from substantial learning losses associated with the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on education, Ketcham believes that Batesville’s numbers are a testament to the hard work of the teachers and the collective vision of the school system’s staff and families to work together in a variety of ways to help students perform at or above grade level.
“A great deal of emphasis has been placed on standardized testing, which unfortunately causes anxiety for many students,” Ketcham said. “While the testing is required by the state, the anxiety that often comes with it doesn’t have to be a given. We are making a concerted effort at the Batesville Community School Corporation to provide a curriculum and teaching methods that are so strong that eventually when our students get to a standardized test like the IREAD-3, they can think of it as ‘just another test’ because they have been so well-prepared. These recent test scores show that we are well on our way.”
Besides the statewide ranking, Batesville’s 2021-22 IREAD-3 pass rate placed the school system in first place among southeastern Indiana schools. Regionally, BCSC’s scores for ILEARN (grades three through eight) outperformed other nearby public school systems by at least eight and sometimes as many as 15 percentage points, all while keeping the property tax rate for their schools low.
“We rank in the lower half for property tax rates among the 10 school corporations nearby,” Ketcham explained, “yet we consistently provide opportunities to our students for free that others have to pay for. Our Ivy Tech agreement—where BHS students pay nothing for community college tuition—and certification testing fee coverage program—where students can pursue credentialing at no cost through scholarships from the Batesville Community Education Foundation—are other examples of what sets us apart.
“While academics are at the forefront, our goals go much deeper than that,” Ketcham continued. “The other school board aims include continuing to develop top-notch facilities and a school culture where students feel safe, productive, and part of the Batesville Bulldog community.”
In the past six years, BCSC has worked on the second school board goal by investing $20 million in facility improvements on its campuses. The most recent upgrades include a transformed track and field and football complex at Batesville High School, including artificial turf and a renovated locker room building. The turf on the football field will positively impact other school programs such as the marching band, soccer team, and physical education classes by providing a weather-resistant outdoor surface to utilize.
As the facility enhancements continue, the school corporation simultaneously has a team of staff members working on the third goal—a plan to improve wellness among the students and staff.
“Wellness has many components in a school environment,” Ketcham added. “Physical and mental health are of paramount importance when dealing with academics. We want to provide a well-balanced, safe, and productive environment. Without that, learning is an uphill battle. Just as we want to have a strong academic atmosphere so standardized tests aren’t stressing students out, we want our students to think of school as a healthy, caring place so that, when academic challenges arise, they remember that they have a safety net of people who will help and support them. It works in both directions.
“When you place students in a productive learning space where they feel like they belong and then add a top-notch curriculum and dedicated teachers, it all falls into place naturally,” Ketcham concluded. “The BCSC vision states, ‘Together, we empower every student to believe in better.’ The ‘together’ part of that is the thread that runs through all of our goals, whether we’re talking about test scores, facilities, or wellness. It’s what drives us here in Batesville.”