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November 1, 2012

New grading system for Indiana schools results in mixed marks

(Continued)

INDIANAPOLIS —

Indiana’s K-12 schools have been measured and graded in the past, using a system based in part on how many students passed standardized tests. The new system uses a more complex formula of metrics, rewarding schools with bonus points for getting students to make big gains on test scores from year to year. At the elementary and middle school level, progress made by students from year to year on their standardized test scores play a significant role in the new grading system. At the high school level, college and career readiness indicators, such as Advanced Placement scores, industry certifications, and standardized test scores factor into how the new grades are calculated.

Before the State Board of Education approved release of the grades, Bennett defended the new grading rules. He pointed out that under the new system, 207 schools received As for the first time, and that another 28 schools that had received Fs in the past earned grades of C or higher this time. 

“These fair and comprehensive measures of school performance demonstrate that school leaders and teachers are focusing on the skills our students need to succeed in their academic and professional careers,” Bennett said. “The results of our new approach to grading schools are already making a measurable difference in student performance, and Indiana’s educators should be celebrated for their hard work and success.”

But some schools also saw their grades drop.

Five Indiana schools went from A to F. About 29 percent of schools saw their grades fall at least one grade. The rest either moved up or stayed the same.

The school letter grades were scheduled to be publicly released earlier this month, but were delayed to give schools more time to look at the data that was used to calculate the grades. Bennett said more than 140 schools appealed their grades, and 42 percent of those schools had some aspect of their data revised. He said 11 percent of the schools that appealed their initial grade received a grade change based on their appeal.

Sue Loughlin of the Tribune-Star in Terre Haute contributed to this story.

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

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