Indiana education officials appear to have turned the corner on creating a new system for awarding A-to-F grades to schools. But some key decisions still need to be made.
The State Board of Education voted 8-1 this month to approve the new grading system rule, which now must be approved by the state attorney general and then the governor. Board members made two significant changes from the proposal they had discussed at earlier meetings.
- Student growth on test scores will count the same as student proficiency on test scores. That’s what a state panel on accountability had recommended; but the board had leaned toward weighting the factors 60-40 in favor of proficiency.
- Schools won’t be awarded an A unless they show reasonable performance or growth by “subgroups” of students: racial and ethnic groups, students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, special needs students and English language learners.
Still to be decided is exactly how the state will award points for student growth. In a new approach, points will be awarded on the basis of a “growth to proficiency table,” and several versions are being considered.
The change that says schools can’t get an A unless their subgroups do reasonably well was apparently something the U.S. Department of Education wanted. It’s a throwback to the old system that lowered grades for schools that didn’t make “adequate yearly progress,” which included progress by all the subgroups. Many schools hated the rule, and it went away when the feds gave Indiana a waiver from the No Child Left Behind law.