Lebanon Reporter

State News

October 29, 2013

Panel backs changes for Ind. A-F school grades

Eds: Updates with details on recommendations, troubles with current system, comments from committee members.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The State Board of Education is getting recommendations that Indiana's A-F school rating system be changed to account for improvement by individual students on tests and for the addition of state tests to four more grades.

The recommendations come from an advisory panel made up mostly of educators that was appointed after concerns emerged about the grading formula used last year under former state school Superintendent Tony Bennett.

The current formula has schools' grades based mostly on the percentage of students who pass the state's standardized ISTEP test, not on test score improvement.

Changes would put more emphasis on how much progress students make toward a passing score on ISTEP math and language arts tests. Other factors to be included are high school graduation and college and career readiness rates, and reading test performance.

Committee co-chairman Steve Yager, superintendent of the Northwest Allen County Schools, said the proposed system is more transparent and simpler with more evaluation points.

"It's easily measured, easily understood and easy to then enact the changes that we need for instruction or curriculum," Yager said.

Students currently take ISTEP tests are in third through eighth grades and in 10th grade. The panel recommends new state tests for the first, second, ninth and 11th grades. State schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz said those would replace local testing at those levels.

Ritz and Yager are expected to present the recommendations on Nov. 8 to the State Board of Education, which is expected to consider adopting a new A-F grading model next month.

The fate of the changes is unclear as Ritz, a Democrat, has been at odds with the Republican-dominated board. Ritz filed a lawsuit last week over the board's request to top GOP lawmakers that legislative analysts calculate the new A-F grades instead of her department.

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