Pharos-Tribune

Columns

November 18, 2012

Fixing grading system

The argument over Logansport High School’s grade in the state’s evaluation system is a perfect example of what’s wrong with the system.

Logansport administrators say they have run the numbers, and they believe the school qualifies for a grade of B in the state’s A-F scoring system.

The Indiana Department of Education counters that it, too, has run the numbers and the school qualifies for a C.

It doesn’t really matter all that much who’s right and who’s wrong. The problem is that we’re having this discussion in the first place.

Glenda Ritz, the newly elected superintendent of public instruction, says the formula for determining these grades is so complicated that even the Indiana Department of Education doesn’t understand it. Her first priority on taking office should be to change that.

The process also needs to be quicker. It’s ridiculous that schools are more than halfway through the first semester before they find out how they scored the previous school year.

How can schools effectively address their shortcomings when they find out so far into the school year the issues they need to address?

There is no reason state officials should not be able to hand out these grades at least by mid-summer, preferably sooner.

How would the state react if schools were this slow in evaluating their students? Teachers are expected to calculate student grades in a matter of days, not weeks or months. Why shouldn’t the state be held to a similar standard when it comes to grading schools?

The state also needs to take a look at fairness. Schools should have a reasonable chance at success regardless of their demographics.

It does not speak well of the state’s scoring system that the bulk of failing schools are in areas of high poverty and most top-rated schools are in suburban school districts with many more affluent households.

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