New model for grading schools advances

2013-10-28T19:30:00Z 2013-10-29T13:22:13Z New model for grading schools advancesBy Dan Carden, (317) 637-9078
October 28, 2013 7:30 pm  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | Seventeen Hoosier education and business leaders working together more than 50 hours in seven meetings over the past five weeks have crafted what may become the second generation of Indiana's school grading system.

The new model, to be presented next week to the State Board of Education ahead of an expected Nov. 13 vote, rates schools based on student performance and student growth, with an emphasis on individual growth toward grade-level proficiency.

E. Ric Frataccia, superintendent of Portage Township Schools and a member of the Accountability System Review Panel, said eliminating the growth compared to peers measurement that's included in the current grading system makes the proposed model more fair.

"A kid grows based on how a kid does, not on how you did," Frataccia said. "We made a concerted effort to move away from that."

The recommended grading system awards schools up to 100 points each in performance and growth, with a school's final A-F letter grade based on a to-be-determined weighting of each total.

Within both the performance and growth fields, points are calculated using test scores in English/language arts, math and reading; along with measures of college and career readiness and graduation rates -- if relevant.

"What we have is what we think is a much simpler model with more data points," said Steve Yager, superintendent of Southwest Allen County Schools and co-chairman of the committee. "It's easily measured, easily understood and easy to then enact the changes that we need for instruction or curriculum."

Cheryl Ramsey, principal at Gary's Beveridge Elementary School, said the committee also focused on making the grading system, which has dinged Beveridge with Fs several years in a row, more equitable.

"The process has been very transparent and it's fair, so all schools have a shot at academic success," Ramsey said. "We'll be able to explain to teachers, to parents, all stakeholders what we have to do to change our score."

The Republican-controlled General Assembly in April ordered the State Board of Education devise a new A-F school grading system by Nov. 15 after complaints from parents, teachers and school officials that the current model, debuted in 2012, is unfair and impossible to understand.

Members of the grading system study panel were selected by Republican Gov. Mike Pence; the Republican House and Senate leaders; and Glenda Ritz, the Democratic state superintendent of public instruction.

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