INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The State Board of Education is getting
recommendations that Indiana's A-F school rating system be changed to
account for improvement by individual students on tests and for the
addition of state tests to four more grades.
The recommendations come from an advisory panel made up mostly of
educators that was appointed after concerns emerged about the grading
formula used last year under former state school Superintendent Tony
The current formula has schools' grades based mostly on the percentage of
students who pass the state's standardized ISTEP test, not on test score
Changes would put more emphasis on how much progress students make toward
a passing score on ISTEP math and language arts tests. Other factors to be
included are high school graduation and college and career readiness
rates, and reading test performance.
Committee co-chairman Steve Yager, superintendent of the Northwest Allen
County Schools, said the proposed system is more transparent and simpler
with more evaluation points.
"It's easily measured, easily understood and easy to then enact the
changes that we need for instruction or curriculum," Yager said.
Students currently take ISTEP tests in third through eighth grades
and in 10th grade. The panel recommends new state tests for the first,
second, ninth and 11th grades. State schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz
said those would replace local testing at those levels.
Ritz and Yager are expected to present the recommendations on Nov. 8 to
the State Board of Education, which is expected to consider adopting a new
A-F grading model next month.
The fate of the changes is unclear as Ritz, a Democrat, has been at odds
with the Republican-dominated board. Ritz filed a lawsuit last week over
the board's request to top GOP lawmakers that legislative analysts
calculate the new A-F grades instead of her department.
Bennett, a Republican, resigned as Florida's schools chief in August after
The Associated Press published emails showing he altered Indiana's school
grading system last year after a charter school founded by a top GOP donor
received a low grade. That school, which Bennett routinely cited as a
top-performer, received an A under the revised formula. Other schools also
Advisory committee member Cheryl Ramsey, principal at Beveridge Elementary
School in Gary, said the panel focused on making the grading system, which
has given her school an F several years in a row, more equitable.
"We'll be able to explain to teachers, to parents, all stakeholders what
we have to do to change our score," she said.
The Republican-controlled Legislature ordered the state board to devise a
new A-F system in April, after complaints from parents, teachers and
school officials that the current model, which debuted in 2012, was unfair
and impossible to understand.
Members of the grading system study panel were selected by Republican Gov.
Mike Pence, the Republican House and Senate leaders, and Ritz.