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Indiana DOE Changing Report Cards

January 26, 2012
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01/27/12 It was only last fall that the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) started giving Indiana schools a report card using a simple A-F grading system. Now with changes being considered to the grading system, schools are taking a hard look at the possible ramifications.

To measure progress, schools are placed in one of five categories: A-Exemplary Progress; B-Commendable Progress; C-Academic Progress; D=Academic Watch –Priority, and F-Academic Probation-High Priority.

The system is a part of the Indiana Public Law 221 A-F School Accountability Grading System.

According to the IDOE, the A-F Accountability Model is designed to raise the bar for scholar accountability that will ultimately drive student academic success. The new model being considered will hold schools to yet higher standards and is designed to show a more accurate picture of a school’s total performance using student academic growth, graduation rates, and college and career readiness.

A second factor is the need to ensure that schools are satisfying the “No Child Left Behind” Act of 2001. Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) is a federally mandated accountability system used to ensure that 100 percent of all students are proficient in both English and Math by the year 2014.

Schools targeted with the proposed changes include public schools (traditional and charter), accredited non-public schools, and nonpublic accredited by an entity recognized by the Indiana State Board of Education that participate in the voucher system.

Grading systems would differ from grades 3-8 and grades 9-12.

The A-F grade using the new model would only count students who attended school 162 days. Those passing the ISTEP +, IMAST and ISTAR will receive points. ISTEP+ (Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress) was designed to encourage students to master basic language and science skills, particularly reading, writing and mathematics. Testing is given annually for all students in grades 3-8.

IMAST is a test given to students with identified learning disabilities and ISTAR is an assessment for those with severe disabilities. Those taking the IMAST are expected to earn a high school diploma. Exclusions will be made for student that were enrolled for less that 162 days, those with limited English Proficiency tested as LAS Links I LEP and have not been Level I LEP for more than one year, and previously have not been classified as LAS Links Level 2 or higher.

Points will still be given separately for English/Language Arts and Math; but additional points will be added for achievement growth in the lower 25 percent and the upper 75 percent. Similarly, penalties will be assessed for those failing to make growth.

Plymouth Schools Superintendent Daniel Tyree said he has always taken the stance of “wait and see” before making a judgment when the DOE is looking at changes, but has some concerns about using the percentages because they are tied into penalties. He said, “It pigeonholes a certain percentage into a failing system.”

Last August the Plymouth Schools Corporation as a whole has received an “A” rating by the IDOE. Additionally, the school system passed AYP for the fourth year in a row. Ratings for the individual schools in the corporation ranged from “A” in all four elementary buildings to a “D” at LJH. Riverside Intermediate was ranked as a “B” school and Plymouth High School as a “C” school.

 

With the new system, schools that have 90 to 100 percent passing scores would receive 4 points. Schools with less that 60 percent passing receive no points. Points can also be added for growth or lowered if there is little or no growth.

The new form of grading for the elementary and middle schools PL 221 model will be based on performance and growth. Previously there were subgroups based on race, gender, special needs, language barriers, and qualifying for free and reduced lunches that were considered when formulating the final grade. Now those subgroups would be eliminated.

Grades for high schools would be based on End of Course Assessments (ECA) in English 10 (30 percent), Algebra I (30 percent), graduation rate (30 percent) and college/career readiness (10 percent).

A school corporation would receive one final grade that will be calculated by adding the final two scores from both models (elementary/middle school and high school) together after multiplying those scores by the enrollment percentages accordingly.

The DOE took public comments on the proposed changes from December 16, 2011 until January 20, 2012. A public hearing was also convened in Indianapolis to receive comments on January 17, 2012.

The IDOE website has a Data Center where parents, community members, and researchers can view important information on how well individual schools and school corporations are performing throughout the entire state.

 

Carol Anders Correspondent

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