INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Indianaís A-F grading system for individual schools
would be scrapped and implementation suspended on a national set of reading
and math education standards under a bill the state Senate approved
Another proposal to no longer require local school superintendents to hold a
state superintendentís or teacherís license also cleared the Senate after
Republican Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann cast her first tie-breaking vote as the
The 37-13 vote in the Republican-controlled Senate endorsed ending the
current system under which the state Department of Education issues a single
A-F grade for each school. The Senate bill would have the agency issue two
grades for each school: one based on the average academic performance of
students, and the other based on how much students have improved.
ďMost people think the current system is very complicated, very, very
difficult to understand and donít know how you get these scores,Ē Senate
education committee Chairman Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, said. ďThis is an
effort to make that simple and easy to understand. I think it does that.Ē
The A-F scale was implemented in 2011 and backed by Republican state schools
Superintendent Tony Bennett - whom Democrat Glenda Ritz defeated in the
November election - despite widespread opposition from teachers and other
groups, including the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.
Many educators have complained that the system resulted in some schools with
consistently high student test scores receiving low grades because students
hadnít shown enough improvement.
The bill approved by the Senate would also suspend implementation of Common
Core State Standards until after the state Board of Education receives a
report on those standards from a legislative study committee.
House Education Committee Chairman Robert Behning, R-Indianapolis, said he
opposes any delays in schools adopting the benchmarks on what students
should learn during each grade - benchmarks that have been adopted by 45
Supporters of the new review say they donít believe the standards, developed
by a group of state school officials from across the country, had enough
public review in Indiana. They argue that the national initiative has led to
a loss of local involvement over school standards.
Ritz, the new state schools superintendent, said Wednesday she also didnít
want to delay implementation of the standards, but she also supports
additional reviews on whether the changes should be made.
The Senate-approved bill seems to split the difference between Ritz and
Behning on the A-F school grading scale.
Behning said a dual-grade system would be leave parents and others confused
about what they mean, while Ritz wants to get rid of the letter grades
completely in favor of putting out numerical data on student achievement and
ďReporting direct informational data tells way more about the story in their
schools,Ē Ritz said.
The tie-breaking vote cast by the lieutenant governor endorsed a bill
changing the stateís current requirement that school district
superintendents have a teaching license and complete graduate school work in
Supporters say the change would give local school boards more flexibility to
hire a business executive or someone else they believe best fills their
needs for a top administrator. Opponents worry that the state would open the
door to possible cronyism and lowering standards by allowing superintendents
without any classroom experience.
The Senate added a requirement that a district superintendent must have a
masterís degree, which wasnít in the previous House-approved version of the
Ellspermannís vote after senators split 25-25 was the first tie-breaking
vote cast by a lieutenant governor in the chamber since 2005, according to a