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Pence stands by school-grading system

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence said Wednesday he is standing by Indiana's system of assigning "A-F" grades to schools based on their performance despite reports that the state's former schools chief worked to change the grading formula to ensure a top GOP donor's school received an "A."

Pence told The Journal Gazette on Wednesday that the system is "an essential part" of accountability measures designed to improve education in Indiana. But he said the public must have confidence that the system is "fair and impartial."

"I think the A-to-F system is extremely important," Pence said after participating in a mile-long walk to promote health with his wife, Karen. "Parents have a right to know how their schools are performing overall. But that system needs to really reflect the performance of those schools in an accurate and fair and impartial way."

Emails obtained by The Associated Press show Bennett and his staff scrambled last fall to change the grading formula so Christel House Academy, a charter school founded by Christel DeHaan, received an "A." DeHaan has donated $2.8 million to Republicans since 1998, including $130,000 to Bennett.

Bennett had touted the school as a top performer for months as he built support for his education agenda among lawmakers and business groups. But low 10th grade algebra scores pulled the school's initial mark down to a "C."

"This will be a HUGE problem for us," Bennett wrote in a Sept. 12 email to his chief of staff. "They need to understand that anything less than an A for Christel House compromises all of our accountability work."

The emails show efforts to raise the grade, including changing color presentations on a chart so a high "B'' looked like an "A," and included questions about whether the state could legally change just Christel House's score.

It's not clear how the formula was changed, but within a week, Christel House had gone from a 2.9 to a 3.75.

Bennett, who now is reworking Florida's grading system as that state's education commissioner, denies that Christel House Academy received special treatment and says other schools also benefited. He said discovering that the charter would receive a low grade raised broader concerns with grades for other "combined" schools — those that included multiple grade levels — across the state.

DeHaan has told The Associated Press no one from the school was involved in any discussions about its grade.

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  • In my bugs bunny voice
    What an em-bare-@$$-ment, what an em-bess-le, what a maroon as a governor!!! I think he is in over his head and pay grade. Wasn't this guy a radio personality before getting into politics? Well I guess this shows how backwards we hicks are in this state but hey I'm not from here I just live here.
  • Clueless
    Dear governor Dence/Dunce, the world is no longer flat but if you want to continue with that philosophy as well you will only continue to show that you are clueless and Indiana needs a law to repeal elections. Using a system that is shown to be flawed and that can be rigged or changed shows that education in the state of Indiana needs to taken out of the hands of those that do not know what to do to make sure our children get what they need to their future. I thought your wife would have helped you in this but obviously not. By the way, please remember that Glenda ritz received more votes than you in the last election and those same people that put her in can vote you out. It is obvious we didn't like the path Tony was going if we resoundingly removed him.
  • Pencereship
    More Pencereship. It is a BAD system, not fair or impartial. lol. smh. Just have a system that reports the schools score to a 3rd party, then everything is just a number and it would be fair. They don't want this stuff to be fair, they want it stacked in THEIR favor.

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