Pharos-Tribune

May 10, 2013

Grade change to LHS expected

Amendment requires IDOE to update grades based on appeals.

by Sarah Einselen
Pharos-Tribune

LOGANSPORT — After months of going back and forth with the Indiana Department of Education, local school administrators may finally see Logansport High School’s grade officially changed from a C to a B.

Last year, IDOE assigned the C grade to LHS based on standardized test scores. However, the school appealed the grade, saying one student’s score was not counted, but should have been. The appeal was partially approved.

School administrators said the additional score should have bumped the school’s overall math score up into the B grade range, but IDOE has yet to change the grade.

It may be forced to, though, now that a state law was amended to require that IDOE’s school grades accurately reflect any appeals to its data that a school has won.

An IDOE spokesman did not return calls for comment.

State Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport, said in a press release he learned of the situation from Logansport Community Schools Superintendent Michele Starkey.

“The department said that our school won its appeal but refused to change the letter grade,” Head said. “What good is an appeals process if the Department of Education refuses to change the result even after a school wins their appeal? The Department of Education rendered the whole process meaningless.”

Further conversations between Starkey and IDOE officials went nowhere, so Head proposed an amendment to House Bill 1427, a measure related to education, to deal with LHS’s grade and that of other schools that had won appeals but hadn’t yet had their grades changed.

“I amended the bill to say that a school’s letter grade should be accurate,” Head said. “If a school appeals its grade and wins, and that appeal would change the grade, the Department of Education will now be obligated to change the grade, notify the school of the change, and publicize the change.

“This is only fair,” he said.

The bill passed both chambers of the General Assembly and awaits Gov. Mike Pence’s signature.

IDOE’s publicly accessible school database still indicates LHS has a C grade, and local administrators haven’t received notice that it’s changing.

LHS Principal Matt Jones said the process was headed “in a positive direction.”

“We’re not quite there yet but we’re close,” Jones said. “We’re very appreciative of Sen. Head’s efforts on getting this corrected. Our students and staff have worked extremely hard on increasing student achievement, and I’m proud of everyone’s focus and dedication at LHS.”

The C had already represented a letter grade increase over the previous year. The high school was on academic watch in the 2007-2008 school year, on academic probation in the 2009-2010 school year and rated a D in 2010-2011, according to IDOE’s online school database. No rating was calculated in 2008-2009 because of a change in spring testing.

Starkey looks forward to the official notification the IDOE will be required to send once the bill is signed into law.

“Isn’t that interesting that it had to be made into a law?” noted Starkey. “But hey, everybody from here on out should be covered.

“It’s amazing to me that the right thing wasn’t done from the very beginning. The unfortunate thing about it is we weren’t the only ones. But with the new legislation, that shouldn’t happen to anybody anymore.”

Sarah Einselen is news editor for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at sarah.einselen@pharostribune.com or 574-732-5151.

 

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Pharos-Tribune eEdition, or our print edition