Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

October 29, 2013

Panel keeps 'A-F' grades for schools

Committee targets college-, career-readiness

INDIANAPOLIS — An advisory panel appointed by legislative leaders to review the state’s controversial A-F accountability system has come up with its own proposal for rating schools that keeps the much-criticized letter grades but changes the formula for how those grades are assigned.

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, who co-chaired the panel, called it a “conceptual framework” for measuring how well schools are doing to improve academic performance and student growth.

“We are in the first phase of what we need to accomplish,” Ritz told a weary 17-member panel that had spent more than eight hours Monday hashing out some final details of the proposed plan. The panel, appointed in September, was on a Nov. 1 deadline to come up with a plan to present to the State Board of Education, with whom Ritz is warring over the current A-F model.

Among the changes proposed: A new scoring system based on a 1-100 scale that would include more data for calculating grades, additional testing for students through the 11th grade, and an increased emphasis on graduation rates and college- and career-readiness.

The proposal also includes building in “guardrails” for schools that see a big drop in their accountability grade, to help set them back on a path toward progress.

The proposed plan isn’t simple: At one point during the long meeting Monday, several panel members voiced concerns the proposed A-F metrics appeared as complicated as the old ones that have come under fire.

“We can’t even get a model that meets our first and simplest goal, which was to make this transparent and easy to understand,” said Brownsburg Community Schools Superintendent Dan Snapp.

Other panel members questioned whether some school officials might “game the system,” if the new model allowed some students to escape the mandatory, standardized tests that are a critical component of the current A-F accountability model. Those panel members worried some school officials would intentionally exclude students likely to do poorly on the tests.

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