News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

October 29, 2013

Panel offers new A-to-F grading formula

Proposal modifies weight given to several data points

INDIANAPOLIS — An advisory panel appointed by legislative leaders to review the state’s A-to-F accountability system for public schools has come up with its own proposal for rating schools that keeps the letter grades but also changes the formula for how those grades are assigned.

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, who co-chaired the panel, called it a “conceptual framework” for measuring how well schools are doing to improve academic performance and student growth.

“We are in the first phase of what we need to accomplish,” Ritz told a weary 17-member panel that had spent more than eight hours Monday hashing out some final details of the proposed plan. The panel, appointed in September, was on a Nov. 1 deadline to come up with a plan to present to the State Board of Education, with whom is Ritz warring over the current A-to-F model.

Among the changes proposed are a new scoring system based on a 1 to 100 scale that would include more data for calculating grades; additional testing for students through the 11th grade; and an increased emphasis on graduation rates and college and career readiness.

The proposal also includes building in “guardrails” for schools that see big drops on their accountability grades, to help them return to a path of progress.

The proposed plan isn’t simple. At one point during the long meeting Monday, several panel members voiced concerns that the proposed A-to-F metrics appeared as complicated as the old ones that have come under fire.

“We can’t even get a model that meets our first and simplest goal, which was to make this transparent and easy to understand,” said Brownsburg Community Schools Superintendent Dan Snapp.

Other panel members questioned whether some school officials might “game the system” if the new model allowed some students to escape the mandatory, standardized tests that are a critical component of the current A-to-F accountability model. Those panel members worried that some school officials would intentionally exclude students who were likely to do poorly on the tests.

“I think there are some out there [already] gaming the system, and shame on them,” said Bluffton High School Principal Steve Baker.

The panel’s goal was to find a formula that could measure how well schools — and their teachers — are performing. But the task wasn’t easy.

Under a mandate by the federal government to come up with a grading system for schools, Indiana and other states are struggling to figure out a way to measure academic progress of students who range widely in their abilities.

“The things we’re looking at — the various ways to measure growth — are still in their infancy,” said panel member Derek Redelman, an education policy analyst with the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. “There is no commonly accepted way of doing it.”

The current A-to-F grading system has been a lightning rod for criticism since it was rolled out two years ago. During the 2013 session, legislators ordered the State Board of Education to come up with a new formula that focused more on measuring individual student growth and less on how those students compared with their peers across the state.

The issue was elevated significantly over the summer, following reports by the Associated Press that Ritz’s predecessor, Republican Tony Bennett, covertly changed the A-to-F grading system in a way that elevated the scores of 156 schools, including an Indianapolis charter school founded by a wealthy Republican donor.

Ritz, the only statewide elected Democrat in the Statehouse, escalated the A-to-F controversy last week when she filed a lawsuit against 10 members of the State Board of Education. Ritz contends the bipartisan, appointed board acted illegally when its members signed a letter asking Republican legislative leaders take the A-to-F grading system away from her department and turn it over to the Legislative Services Agency, the nonpartisan research arm of the General Assembly.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, a Republican, has asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local & Bistate
Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die Raw: Israel Hits Gaza Targets, Destroys Mosques US Airlines Cancel Israel Flights Raw: Lawmakers Scuffle in Ukraine's Parliament Raw: MH17 Passenger Remains in Kharkiv, Ukraine Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban Diplomatic Push Intensifies to End War in Gaza Crash Victims' Remains Reach Ukraine-held City Holder Urges Bipartisanship on Immigration Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch Obama Signs Workforce Training Law Cat Fans Lap Up Feline Film Festival Raw: Massive Explosion in Gaza City Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station US Official: Most Migrant Children to Be Removed Raw: First Lady Says `Drink Up' More Water
NDN Video
Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad Jimmy Kimmel Introduces His Baby Girl Swim Daily, Nina Agdal in the Cook Islands Guilty Dog Apologizes to Baby for Stealing Her Toy Prince George Turns 1 and is Already a Trendsetter Train Collides With Semi Truck Carrying Lighter Fluid Kanye West Tells-All on Wedding in "GQ" Interview Tony Dungy Weighs in on Michael Sam Scarlett Johansson Set To Marry In August New Star Wars Episode XII X-Wing Revealed Obama: Putin must push separatists to aid MH17 probe Michigan inmates no longer allowed to wear orange due to 'OITNB' Adam Levine Ties the Knot Sebastian The Ibis Walks Beautiful Bride Down The Aisle | ACC Must See Moment NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Faces of Souls Lost in Malaysian Plane Crash 105-year-old woman throws first pitch Man Creates Spreadsheet of Wife's Reasons for Turning Down Sex 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity