INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Public schools around Indiana will learn their final
grades next week under a ranking system using new rules that critics say are
too complex for schools and parents to understand.
The State Board of Education is scheduled to approve grades for the more
than 2,000 public schools across the state on Wednesday. The system, based
largely on student standardized test scores, gives schools and districts A-F
grades instead of ranking them by categories such as “academic progress” and
“probation” as had been done until 2011.
But this year, the grades are based on new rules that critics claim are
inaccurate and unfair. The state board approved the new rules in February
over widespread opposition ranging from teachers to the Indiana Chamber of
Much of the criticism revolves around the way the new evaluation system
measures student growth. Students only get credit for “high growth” if their
gain is better than two-thirds of all students at their testing level. That
means only a third of students will be able to reach it, no matter how much
their scores go up.
Supporters, including state schools Superintendent Tony Bennett, say the new
way gives schools more credit when students’ test scores grow faster than
their peers, and provides more information and greater flexibility than the
“It used to be strictly on a pass-fail system, and that’s no longer the
case,” Bennett, who is running for his second term, told The Associated
Press in an interview this week.
Bennett’s opponent, Glenda Ritz, has made an issue out of the new evaluation
system, saying the rules are so complicated even Bennett’s own department
doesn’t understand them.
Last year, the grades were released in August. They were supposed to be
released Oct. 10 this year, but that was delayed until Oct. 31 after the
Department of Education was bombarded with questions and several school
districts filed appeals, The Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne reported.
Bennett said the agency wanted to give schools and districts more time to
examine the preliminary results they received in September.
“My No. 1 goal was to get it right and to provide a clear picture of how
schools perform,” he told The AP.
Ritz, however, said she suspects the grades’ release to be delayed again —
until after Nov. 6.
think Tony is going to release the results until after the election, because
most schools are going to receive D’s and F’s,” she said.
The grades will reflect schools’ performances during the 2011-12 school
East Allen County Schools Superintendent Karyle Green told The Journal
Gazette that the calculations used in the new system are so difficult to
fathom they cause people to lose confidence in the results. She also
questioned the way student growth is measured.
“The ideas behind what they’re trying to do have positive merit, but because
it’s so new, nothing appears to be going as planned,” she said.
Green also questioned how schools could usefully apply the grades when they
aren’t released until months into the school year.