EDITORIAL: New school rating system makes the grade

2013-11-21T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: New school rating system makes the grade nwitimes.com
November 21, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The Indiana State Board of Education voted to replace the 1-4 grade point average type of scale for calculating school performance, on the A-F system, with a more sensible 100-point measure.

Schools must earn at least 90 points to get an A, 80 points for a B, 70 points for a C and 60 points for a D. Schools with less than 60 points will be given an F.

For anyone who has gone through school -- and who hasn't? -- this system should be easily understandable.

The new grading system was recommended by the Accountability System Review Panel, a 17-member committee appointed by Republican Gov. Mike Pence, the Republican House and Senate leaders, and Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, a Democrat.

The new system is a work in progress, with Ritz saying the review panel will continue to work with her to develop, validate and test the school grading model over the next year.

Still up in the air is legislative and State Board of Education approval of new educational standards and a replacement for the ISTEP exam.

"Our primary goal was to make sure we were building a framework that wasn't dependent on a specific kind of assessment because we knew we had to wrestle with all of that," Ritz said.

The A-F grading system developed by Ritz's predecessor, Tony Bennett, came under attack after the grades were boosted for a top campaign donor's school, along with other schools, without the State Board of Education's permission.

The new system provides more nuanced grades, showing the subtle difference between a 100 and a 91, for example.

School grades are used in teacher evaluations, not just for school accountability. The new system should help in that regard as well.

We support the A-F system, which offers a clear way to evaluate a school's performance, with the caveat that parents and others should use this as but one tool for evaluating schools. The new system won't reflect all of a school's positives and negatives.

That said, this way of producing the A-F school accountability grades makes more sense than the previous method.

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