A change is coming next year to Indiana’s A-to-F school grading system, and it may be a bigger change than even the most education-attuned Hoosiers yet realize.
While the State Board of Education has approved the framework for the new system, it still needs to decide how to award points for student growth on test scores, a key component for calculating grades. That won’t happen until this fall.
And what it decides will matter, according to simulations of what grades would have been if the new system had been in place a year ago. Under one approach to measuring growth, 40 percent of schools would have received As. Under another, barely 20 percent. Either way, it’s a change from the current system, which awarded As to 54 percent of schools last year.
Up to now, elementary and middle schools have been graded largely on the percentage of students who passed ISTEP+ exams in math and reading. They could gain or lose points for student growth on test scores, but performance was the primary factor. And that meant affluent schools typically got As or Bs.
Growth was measured by the Indiana Growth Model, a complex formula in which each student’s test-score improvement was compared with that of all students who scored the same the previous year.
The grading system for high schools is and will remain more complicated. It includes graduation rates and “college and career readiness” measures as well as test-score performance and growth.
The new system for elementary and middle schools will rely on student test-score performance for 50 percent of each school’s score and growth for the other 50 percent. That suggests a more level playing field for high-poverty schools. They may be able to get good grades if students grow enough.
And growth will be based on a “growth to proficiency table,” a new method for awarding points for how much students improved their test performance. Here’s how it will work.