IBJNews

A-F panel begins work on new grading system

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Members of a new group studying the state’s A-F school grading system got to work Thursday with a history lesson of sorts that raised questions about the difficulty of marrying state and federal rules for education accountability.

Those recommendations will be reviewed by the State Board of Education, which will set the new rules for how the grades – which can lead to state rewards and sanctions – are determined.

The panel’s co-chairman, Steven Yager, said meeting the deadline will be “challenging” but he said he’s confident it’s achievable.

“We know we’ll have a lot of homework in between meetings and we’re up to that task,” Yager said.

The panel – a mix of 17 teachers and administrators appointed by state elected leaders – heard Monday about the history of the state’s accountability system, which predates federal efforts including No Child Left Behind.

Today, the state is operating it’s A-F grading system under a U.S. Department of Education waiver that allowed state officials to craft a state system that’s meant to meet the spirit of both state and federal systems.

The waiver will expire after the current school year and state officials must apply for a new one. State Superintendent Glenda Ritz, a co-chair of the advisory panel, said the goal will be to create another “unified model to meet both state and federal requirements.”

The current A-F system is required by state law but education officials determine the criteria used to determine the grades. The current system considers standardized test scores, achievement growth, graduation rates and college and career readiness measures.

But the system has been controversial since its implementation. Some schools have complained that it’s unfair and doesn’t do enough to measure improvement. Earlier this year, lawmakers ordered changes.

Then this summer, the system came under further fire when former state Superintendent Tony Bennett – who lost to Ritz in the last election – was accused of changing the current A-F grading system to benefit a charter school he had been touting. The change benefited other schools as well, raising questions among educators and lawmakers about whether the grades are fair.

An independent investigation deemed the changes “plausible” but said the Department of Education had been unprepared to implement such a complicated system.

On Thursday, education officials acknowledged some of those complications, such as creating a system that measures achievement at schools that have different grade configurations. Ritz said Indiana schools are set up in 90 different ways; some may have only K-2 grades while others serve only a subset of students.

That’s part of what led to Bennett’s troubles. The charter school he is accused of helping wasn’t a full high school and therefore didn’t fit the formula, which Bennett’s office then tweaked.

Ritz told the panel that even as the state implements a new system, the federal requirements for achievement will get tougher.

Jim Snapp, superintendent of Brownsburg Community Schools, asked whether federal officials would give the state some leeway if scores dipped during the transition. But Ritz said that’s unlikely.

“The bar gets raised every year,” she said. “We’re not exempt from having the bar raised.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. You are correct that Obamacare requires health insurance policies to include richer benefits and protects patients who get sick. That's what I was getting at when I wrote above, "That’s because Obamacare required insurers to take all customers, regardless of their health status, and also established a floor on how skimpy the benefits paid for by health plans could be." I think it's vital to know exactly how much the essential health benefits are costing over previous policies. Unless we know the cost of the law, we can't do a cost-benefit analysis. Taxes were raised in order to offset a 31% rise in health insurance premiums, an increase that paid for richer benefits. Are those richer benefits worth that much or not? That's the question we need to answer. This study at least gets us started on doing so.

  2. *5 employees per floor. Either way its ridiculous.

  3. Jim, thanks for always ready my stuff and providing thoughtful comments. I am sure that someone more familiar with research design and methods could take issue with Kowalski's study. I thought it was of considerable value, however, because so far we have been crediting Obamacare for all the gains in coverage and all price increases, neither of which is entirely fair. This is at least a rigorous attempt to sort things out. Maybe a quixotic attempt, but it's one of the first ones I've seen try to do it in a sophisticated way.

  4. In addition to rewriting history, the paper (or at least your summary of it) ignores that Obamacare policies now must provide "essential health benefits". Maybe Mr Wall has always been insured in a group plan but even group plans had holes you could drive a truck through, like the Colts defensive line last night. Individual plans were even worse. So, when you come up with a study that factors that in, let me know, otherwise the numbers are garbage.

  5. You guys are absolutely right: Cummins should build a massive 80-story high rise, and give each employee 5 floors. Or, I suppose they could always rent out the top floors if they wanted, since downtown office space is bursting at the seams (http://www.ibj.com/article?articleId=49481).

ADVERTISEMENT