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IDOE To Give Schools Letter Grades

For the first time, the Indiana Department of Education is giving letter grades to its schools, in an effort to make performance data easier to understand.

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Any school which sees 90 percent of its students pass the ISTEP automatically gets an A.

Six percent of public schools were given F’s from the Indiana Department of Education in 2011, a reduction of more than 50 percent from last year. The number of A’s rose slightly from 2010.

More than four out of every five Indiana high schools were graded C or lower. State Superintendent Tony Bennet says the high school’s higher percentages are party due to the lack of effective improvement efforts at the high school level.

“There’s a tremendous amount of work that says states have done a pretty good job of building assessments at the elementary and middle school to help inform teachers, schools, school districts and states about how to transform the elementary and middle school experience,” Bennett said. “But we have yet to do that at the high school.”

Improvement is just half of the metric used to describe schools.  The other half corresponds to passage of statewide ISTEP math and English tests, as well as some end of course assessments.

But schools can get good grades even if only a slim majority of students pass the tests.  For instance, if a school saw half its students pass the tests, but that represents a 5 percent or better increase from the previous year, that school is given an A.

Any school which sees 90 percent of its students pass the test automatically gets an A and needs to show no improvement, according to the IDOE’s rationale.

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