Congratulations to the students at Pope John Elementary School for leading all area schools in ISTEP achievement.

Just over 80 percent of Pope John students passed both the English and math portions of the test. Lydia Middleton and Deputy elementaries were close behind.

Also deserving of congratulations are the students at Southwestern Middle School who saw an 11.6 percent increase in their scores - although they still fell short of the statewide average. Still, we celebrate the victories and continue to push forward toward even better scores.

Those accomplishments reflect the dedication of the students, their parents, teachers and school administration.

Statewide results were released by the Indiana Department of Education on Monday. Statewide, 74.4 percent of students passed both portions of the test. That's about a 1 percent increase over last year.

Disappointing is the fact that four area schools in addition to Southwestern Middle School - Madison Consolidated Junior High, E.O. Muncie, Canaan Academy and Christian Academy of Madison - fell below the state average.

Whether a school flirts with 100 percent of its students passing, or struggles to get half of its students passing, there is always room for improvement.

While the ISTEP scores allow us to chart how our local schools compare with others around the state, we should put more weight on an individual student's growth.

Student success begins with a commitment from home. Parents who value education will pass that along to their children.

If enough parents do that, we will see an increase in total school performance.