Over half of all Indiana schools could get Ds or Fs from the state next year if the State Board of Education approves recommended cut scores for the 2015 ISTEP+ exams.
That’s according to data provided by the Indiana State Department of Education, which charted the likely distribution of school grades if fewer students pass the exams.
Daniel Altman, spokesman for the department, cautioned that the figures aren’t exact but represent best estimates compiled by staff from the data that were available. But even if they are close, the grading changes are bound to get attention.
Under cut scores that go to the State Board of Education for approval Wednesday, it’s expected that the overall passing rate on ISTEP+ exams will drop by 16 percent in English/language arts and by 24 percent in mathematics. That’s mostly the result of more rigorous expectations for passing.
In 2014, over half of Indiana schools were awarded As in the state’s accountability system and only 12.8 percent got Ds and Fs. Those figures will flip this year if the DOE estimates are accurate.
- With a 15 percent drop in performance, one-third of schools would get As or Bs and 40 percent would get Ds or Fs.
- With a 20 percent drop in performance, 19.5 percent of schools would get As or Bs and 55 percent would get Ds or Fs.
- With a 25 percent drop in performance, barely 10 percent of schools would get As or Bs and two-thirds would get Ds or Fs.
The chart below details how many and what percentage of schools could expect each letter grade with hypothetical drops in ISTEP+ passing rates of 15 percent, 20 percent and 25 percent, the approximate range we’re expecting. Again, these are estimates.
Source: Indiana Department of Education
Over time, we can expect scores to improve as schools and teachers adapt to the standards and the new tests. Also, a new grade calculation formula will take effect in 2016; it’s supposed to put more weight on student academic growth and not as much on test scores.
But for this year, don’t be surprised to hear about an alarming number of “failing” schools.