Report on A-F school grades recommends student growth, more feedback from schools
By Rick Yencer
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - The future of grading in Indiana's public schools could involve more reliance on student growth and less reliance on standardized testing, according to experts commissioned by Indiana lawmakers.
That study by Policy Analytics whose principals are John Grew and William Sheldrake found that the changes made to Christel House Academy's final grades by former state school superintendent Tony Bennett were plausible and the same treatment was given and consistently applied to other schools.
But the Indiana Department of Education's ability to finalize the accountability system, perform quality control simulations and to produce final output was clearly compromised by the loss of several key technical staff.
And the recommendations pointed to less testing and more student growth performance besides getting lots more input schools about the new grading system.
Lawmakers were deciding partisan in praising the study and Bennett or point to the criticism of the past administrator who resigned in Florida after reports that he changed grades for the charter school operated by a wealthy Republican donor.
Senate President Pro Tem David Long of Fort Wayne was satisfied with the report and hoped it would restore the public confidence in the public education grading system.
But Senate Democratic leader Tim Lanane pointed out how the report found the previous administration made errors, rushed decisions and compromised objectivity when the A-F program was implemented.
"Plausible or not, these grades do not wholly reflect the performance of our students or our schools," said Lanane. So such so, the the authors of this report advice throwing them out when considering intervention until a new system can be put in place."
Other Democrats called for more transparency besides getting more input from parents, teachers and administrators on coming up with a new grading system.
Gov. Mike Pence simply commended the work of education experts and looked forward to working with current school superintendent Glenda Ritz, lawmakers and the Indiana Board of Education who he appoints to come up with a new grading system.