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Bennett’s Grade Tinkering Cost One School A Passing Grade

The Hammond Academy of Science and Technology saw its letter grade fall from a D to an F.

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Photo: Kyle Stokes/StateImpact Indiana

Last year’s school letter grades were released in August.

Indy‘s Christel House Academy wasn‘t the only school whose state performance grade was changed by 11th-hour tinkering with the formula. A review of state accountability data shows excluding high school students’ scores at schools which didn’t go through 12th grade cost the Hammond Academy of Science and Technology a passing grade, dropping it from a D to an F.

Internal emails show department staffers identified 13 charter and private schools with some high school grades but not seniors. Most would have received the same grade under either version of the formula. But while redoing the formula gave Christel House an A by making its worst scores disappear, the Hammond Academy’s best scores were thrown out.

Indiana Public Charter Schools Association president Kevin Davis says charter schools present unique challenges for evaluators, both because of the unusual grade configurations at many schools and because of the specific missions of some charters. With some schools focusing on ex-dropouts, autistic students, or students with substance abuse issues, Davis credits Indiana with recognizing the grades shouldn’t depend solely on raw scores, but growth as well.

“Tony Bennett’s initial swipe at this had some growth components.  It was an advancement towards the right direction, but it just needs some work,” says Davis.

Davis says charter schools present unique challenges for evaluators, both because of the unusual grade configurations at many schools and because of the specific missions of some charters. Some schools for example, focus on ex-dropouts, autistic students, or students with substance abuse issues.

And Davis says the state is right to continue efforts to make the formula fairer, not scrap it as some critics have suggested.

Network Indiana

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