Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

State News

October 19, 2013

State education board seeks faster 'A-F' results


The letter sent Wednesday expresses concern that the grades haven’t been released yet this year.

“As members of the Board, we send this letter out of concern for ensuring that school accountability information is provided to Indiana schools, educators, and families in as timely a manner as possible. We are now mid-way through October, and the Department has yet to report 2012-2013 A-F grades or release teacher effectiveness ratings as required under Indiana law,” the group wrote.

Ten members of the 11-member board, all appointed by either former Gov. Mitch Daniels or Pence, signed the letter.

Ritz is on an education trip to China. Though the letter was emailed to Ritz and other board members Thursday night, DOE spokesman David Galvin said her staff did not see the letter until Friday.

“The Pence-appointed state board of education and its staff is insistent on perpetuating a rushed, inaccurate, and untested labeling system for our schools,” Galvin said.

Friday’s move effectively places the running of data through Bennett’s school-grading formula with the LSA, but leaves the final say on issuing grades with the state board.

Two factors have consistently popped up in the debate over grading: speed and transparency.

A pair of investigators hired by the state’s legislative leaders determined Bennett and his team had rushed out school grades last year and operated outside the public eye. As part of their monthlong investigation, Republican analyst Bill Sheldrake and Democratic analyst John Grew were given access to the raw data the Department of Education uses to calculate school grades.

The board members reasoned in their letter Wednesday that Grew and Sheldrake proved legislative analysts can issue the letter grades faster than Ritz’s office. They noted in the letter that the process could drag out even longer because schools can appeal their grades.

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