Glenda Ritz called a meeting of the State Board of Education in February 2015 to suggest pausing Indiana’s A-to-F school accountability system to let teachers and students adapt to new standards.
But board members would have none it. They deleted the state superintendent of public instruction’s proposal from the agenda without even acknowledging it – then questioned why she called the meeting.
Gov. Mike Pence also acted as if pausing accountability were some kind of radical idea. “We grade students every day in Indiana,” he said. “We should be willing to grade schools once every year.”
Never mind that U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan had invited states to request the delay under waivers from strict requirements of the No Child Left Behind law. The rationale was that school ratings would suffer as states rolled out new tests aligned with the Common Core standards. Indiana dumped Common Core but adopted new standards that, educators say, are quite similar.
Ritz made her proposal again in the summer, arguing schools should get a pass on having their grades drop as a result of tougher tests. This time the board didn’t refuse to talk, but members suggested that only the legislature had the authority to pause accountability.
They voted to ask Attorney General Greg Zoeller what he thought about the matter. So far, Zoeller hasn’t produced a decision, board spokesman Marc Lotter said this week.
It turns out Ritz wasn’t the only state education official who wanted to ask for a pause.
“The option was really popular—24 states and the District of Columbia took the department up on it,” writes Alyson Klein in Education Week. “And everyone has been approved, except for Colorado (which is still waiting for the greenlight on its No Child Left Behind Act waiver renewal).”
Klein adds that, outside of Indiana, pausing grades has seemed like a no-brainer.
“There’s been very little chatter about it,” she writes, “and it seems almost universally accepted as something the department and states simply had to do in the wake of all the changes ushered in by the waivers and common-core standards.”