Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

'AYP Cap' Lowered State Letter Grades Of 300+ Indiana Schools

Top Five Improving Schools Who Earned C Grades Because Of AYP Cap
School Improvement Score*
Muncie Southside High School 25.6
Delaware Elementary, Evansville 24.7
Bosse High School, Evansville 20.7
Coquillard Primary, South Bend 20.7
South Newton Sr. High School 19.2
Statewide Average -1.2
*A state-calculated three-year average of test scores. If a school makes AYP, it only needs a score of 3-4 to earn a ‘B’ or higher.

State superintendent Tony Bennett announced this week the Indiana Department of Education no longer wants to cap a school’s letter grade at a C if it fails to make adequate progress under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The change would require State Board of Education approval.

That announcement comes too late for 319 Indiana schools that could have earned A’s or B’s from the state this year if they hadn’t failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress under NCLB.

During an analysis of state-compiled performance data, StateImpact identified at least 72 schools who otherwise would have earned B’s and 247 schools who otherwise would have earned A’s. All of whom earned C’s instead because of the so-called “AYP cap.” (You can see for yourself — we posted our chart here.)

Bennett says a move to lift the AYP cap — part of a whole slate of changes to the way state officials want to determine a school’s letter grade — has been in the works for some time. The new performance metrics are designed to reflect the state’s goal that all schools continuously improve their passage rates on state-mandated tests.

The change could also be a response from the Indiana Department of Education to criticism from some district administrators who have said the AYP caps mean state grades don’t reflect a school’s true performance.

“The whole thing is very confusing,” South Madison Community School Corporation assistant superintendent Sandra Hudson told the Anderson Herald Bulletin in September. “It’s almost impossible to figure out what we need to do to fix things.”

The AYP cap meant some schools’ letter grades glossed over singificant improvements in state-mandated test scores. As the table above shows, despite an improvement score of 25.6, which reflects a three-year average of remarkable test score improvements, Muncie Southside High School earned a C.  Without the AYP cap, the school would have earned an A.

Other schools hit the cap despite already-high performance. Fishers High School, widely regarded as one of the state’s top-performing schools, earned a C despite posting a 94.5 percent passage rate on state tests — one of the state’s top marks.

The cap’s removal doesn’t necessarily mean all 319 schools StateImpact identified will necessarily see an increase in their state letter grade.

The new rating system will take two new factors into account at the high school level: how many students graduate from a school and how many students earn college credit or industry certification at that school.

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