— After Columbia Elementary School received a failing grade from the Indiana Department of Education yesterday, school superintendent Michele Starkey took issue with the grading metric’s reliance on the annual ISTEP standardized test for issuing grades to elementary and middle schools.
And she wasn’t the only superintendent to criticize the metric.
IDOE released school grades Wednesday morning after the state Board of Education gave them its final approval. Most of the schools in Cass County and the surrounding area either remained at the same level as they achieved last year or improved a letter grade.
The exceptions were Galveston Elementary School, which moved from an A to a D; Thompson Elementary, which fell to a C from last year’s B; and Columbia Elementary School in Logansport, which fell from a C to an F — a grade that only 7.1 percent of all schools in Indiana were given.
This year’s grades aren’t based on the same metric as last year’s, however. While last year’s were based only on passing rates for standardized tests, this year’s grades incorporate a new metric measuring student growth on standardized test scores among groups of students drawn from across the state, as well as measuring student proficiency on the tests.
“While the assignment of grades is usually easy to assign and understand, this is very complex and is not a true representation of everything that goes on in a school,” said Starkey. Before yesterday’s release, administrators had not been able to estimate what grades would be for the elementary and middle schools, either, in part because of the grade’s new student growth metric.
Columbia Elementary’s grade came because students didn’t show enough growth, she said, compared to students across the state who had similar scores on the ISTEP.