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Saturday, June 15
The Indiana Daily Student

education

School grading system to possibly change

State education officials are currently deciding on a new grading system for Indiana schools for the third year in a row.

After being approved by the bipartisan Accountability System Review Panel last week, an updated grading system formula for public schools will be voted on by the State Board of Education this Friday.

The proposed system consists of using a 100-point scale to grade schools based on how well their students perform on standardized tests as well as provide an increased emphasis on graduation, college and career preparation.

A report from the Accountability System released last month listed recommendations for the new system that included, “The grading scale for the A-F system, currently a 4-point scale, will be changed to a 100-point scale, the accountability system model will have different frameworks for grades 1-8 and grades 9-12 and, as required under state law, the performance of a school’s students on the ISTEP program test and other assessments recommended by the Education Roundtable and approved by the State Board are the primary and majority means of assessing a school’s improvement.”

The state’s current A-F grading system has received widespread controversy during the last two years since it was passed by former Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett in 2011. The Associated Press reported earlier this year Bennett altered the grade of an Indianapolis charter school to benefit one of his top campaign donors.

Glenda Ritz, Indiana’s current Superintendent of Public Instruction, had campaigned against Bennett’s grading system after defeating him in November 2012.

“I believe in a strong accountability system that is accurate, transparent and drives school improvement,” Ritz said in a statement.

Ritz filed a lawsuit last month claiming the State Board of Education violated state law by privately asking lawmakers to have legislative analysts calculate grade ratings for schools instead of the Department of Education.

The lawsuit alleges that 10 members of the Board violated Indiana’s Open Door Law when they conducted a private meeting and drafted a letter dated Oct. 16, 2013, to Senate President Pro Tempore David Long and House Speaker Brian Bosma requesting the Legislative Services Agency determine the grades for the 2012-2013 school year.

In conjunction with Ritz’s lawsuit, Gov. Mike Pence issued a statement saying,

“Governor Pence strongly supports the actions taken by the bipartisan membership of the State Board of Education to ensure the timely completion of last year’s A-F school accountability grades. The Governor is confident that all relevant Indiana laws were followed.”

House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, said the easiest solution would be for Indiana to strip its system of using letter grades to rate schools.

“The fact is people will never fully trust grades doled out by politicians for political purposes,” Pelath said in a statement. “The grades are for rewarding friends and punishing the weak. That’s why some communities in Indiana are pledging to ignore them altogether.”

Follow reporter Brett  Frieman on Twitter @brttfrmn.

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