INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A Republican-controlled state Senate
committee agreed Wednesday with the new Democratic state schools
superintendent that Indiana's A-F grading scale for individual schools
should be scraped.
unanimous vote by Senate Education Committee backing Superintendent
Glenda Ritz on one of her top campaign issues last year came a day after
a House committee approved a bill that would take away from her the
administration of the state's private school voucher system.
bill would throw out the A-F grading system that was issued for the
first time in 2011 and have the state Board of Education develop a new
system for tracking school improvement.
percent of Indiana's more than 2,000 public and private schools received
grades of A or B under scores released in October. Several educators
testified Wednesday about instances where their schools had consistently
high student test scores but received low grades because students hadn't
shown enough improvement.
took office last month, told the committee that she believed using a
single grade for schools wasn't effective when trying to track both
student performance and whether they are improving. She said more than
100 schools had appealed their scores but that she couldn't give them
clear answers on how the scores were determined.
favor of reporting out the raw data rather than trying to find some way
to combine the score into a grade," Ritz said. "I think we'll have the
very same problem of trying to tell people what that grade really
represents when we really do have to measure two different things."
scale was backed by Republican Superintendent Tony Bennett — whom Ritz
defeated in the November election — despite widespread opposition from
teachers and other groups, including the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.
defended the grading system during Wednesday's hearing on the bill to
concluded that the current model is flawed and doesn't do what it was
intended to do," said Sen. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City.
The bill now
goes to the full Senate for consideration.
friendly reception on Wednesday followed a contentious House education
committee meeting on Tuesday during which Republican legislators pushed
through a bill that would move the handling of applications for private
school vouchers from the Department of Education to an agency under
Republican Gov. Mike Pence.
committee chairman cited Ritz's opposition to the voucher program that
legislators adopted in 2011 and her involvement in a lawsuit challenging
the law that's awaiting a ruling from the state Supreme Court.
Wednesday she didn't believe she should be treated differently than any
previous state superintendent. She said she would follow her oath of
office and properly implement any laws regardless of her personal
"I hope in
the end that I'm afforded the same oversight capabilities and processes
that are in place and have been in place many, many years," Ritz said.