Slightly more Indiana schools graded A under ratings change

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Slightly more Indiana schools are receiving A grades under changes to the state’s rating system that headed off big declines anticipated from lower student scores on the ISTEP standardized exam.

Ratings approved Tuesday by the State Board of Education give A grades to about 57 percent of some 2,100 public and private schools — up from about 54 percent of schools receiving A ratings last year. The new ratings give an F grade to about 3 percent of schools — down from 4 percent last year.

2015 School Grades for Public Schools
2015 School Grades for Nonpublic schools


Despite the state’s ISTEP reprieve for schools, several local school superintendents told the board that the letter-grade ratings were harmful to their communities and that the standardized test wasn’t a useful tool for teachers.

Schools could receive higher grades than last year, but not lower ratings, under a state law change approved by legislators and signed by Gov. Mike Pence last week following discord around the state over ISTEP results.

Schools fared much better in the new ratings than they would have without the one-year reprieve.

Preliminary figures had projected a more than four-fold increase to about 17 percent of schools receiving failing marks, while those receiving A ratings would have fallen by more than half to 23 percent.

Many school officials say teachers didn’t have enough time to prepare students for the tougher exam given last spring under new state standards adopted in 2014, a few months after lawmakers withdrew Indiana from the national Common Core standards.

Tom Hunter, the superintendent of the Greensburg Community Schools in southeastern Indiana, called last spring’s ISTEP exam “chaotic” because of the changes and technical troubles that students faced taking the test online.

“Make no mistake, we want our students to be academically competitive,” Hunter told the board. “We simply want a fair and valid means of assessing their achievement.”

Slightly more than half of students passed both the language arts and mathematics portions of last year’s ISTEP exam, down from nearly 75 percent who passed both sections in 2014.

The Indiana House education committee chairman on Tuesday also backed off a proposal calling for an outside company to rescore the 2015 exams, with the committee modifying the bill to make that step an option for the state Department of Education and Board of Education.

“Rather than make the General Assembly make that determination at this point in time, it just provides that the state board can make that decision,” said House education Chairman Robert Behning, R-Indianapolis.

A full rescoring of the ISTEP exam was estimated to cost up to $10 million, but the Department of Education maintained that work wasn’t needed.

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Department of Education school grades: http://bit.ly/1NyiSLx

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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