INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The co-chairs of a panel working on a
new school grading formula for Indiana promised Thursday that their work
will be "fair and transparent."
Democratic School Superintendent Glenda Ritz and Southwest Allen County
School Superintendent Steven Yager said they plan to meet weekly in order
to recommend a new scoring system to the State Board of Education ahead of
the Nov. 1 deadline. The two are leading a 17-member group assessing
Indiana's school grading system.
"That's our ultimate goal: to make sure we have a transparent system that
patrons and teachers, staff members, taxpayers business folks can read and
understand and make sense of," Yager said.
Yager would not say whether he considered the current grading system to be
"fair and transparent", but a legislative review raised concerns about the
formula written by former School Superintendent Tony Bennett. Bennett
resigned as Florida's schools chief last month, shortly after The
Associated Press published emails showing he changed the formula for a
charter school founded by a prolific Republican donor.
The legislative review of Bennett's changes found they were done to
benefit the charter school but applied equally to other schools. The
authors also found that educators complained about a lack of transparency
from the Bennett administration.
School grades were a sensitive topic across the state well before the
publication of the Bennett emails, however. Lawmakers sought the overhaul
of Bennett's formula earlier this year, amid complaints from local school
leaders that his grades made little and were hard to follow.
Ritz, Gov. Mike Pence, House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro
Tem David Long appointed the members of the new panel that will advise the
state's school board on what the new grading formula should look like. The
group met Thursday for the first of many meetings over the coming weeks.
The state board has to sign off on a new formula Nov. 15. The Bennett
formula, however, will stay in place through the coming school year, while
Ritz and others run tests on the new formula that's approved.
The scoring panel, formally called the Accountability System Review Panel,
will also take a look at whether last year's grades should be changed,
Indiana's school assessments have existed for more than a decade, but
Bennett changed the labels to scores of "A-F" and Republican leaders have
placed more emphasis on those scores in recent years.