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Could Indiana Set Higher Goals For AP Test & Dual Credit Scores?

Photo Illustration by Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

An Indiana school’s state-issued letter grade rating could soon be based in part on how many students earn college credit or learn career-oriented skills before they graduate high school.

A proposal to change the rating system — reflective of state superintendent Tony Bennett‘s “college and career readiness” goals — would call for 25 percent of a high school’s students to either:

  • pass an Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or dual credit course exam and earn college credit… OR
  • earn an “industry certification” for a post-high school career.

Bennett set this 25 percent goal when he first took office in 2009, and the Indiana Department of Education chief accountability officer Jon Gubera tells StateImpact he’s confident many schools will be able to earn high marks on this part of their evaluation:

I’ve argued that we should raise the bar more because I think we have a lot more schools hitting that than we realized. That comes from feedback from principals. When we’ve talked to principals about this, many have said, ‘Wait a second guys, we’ve got a lot of kids that are hitting the dual credit, it’ll really drive these numbers up.’ 25 percent has been the goal. Dr. Bennett laid that out in 2009, and we’re going to stick that out in its first iteration. We may find that the state board needs to come back and drive that — which would be excellent, because we want more kids hitting over this 25 percent mark, so I would anticipate that we’re going to have a lot of schools that do well on that.

The “college and career readiness” portion of the rating system will account for a portion — about a quarter — of a high school’s overall letter grade.

In order to earn the maximum amount credit possible, 25 percent of the school’s students must earn college credit or learn job skills before graduation. If fewer than 25 percent of students fulfill the college and career readiness requirements, this portion of a school’s rating will progressively decrease.

Indiana 2010 AP Exam Passage Rates
Passage Rate No. of Schools
25-100% 20
15-25% 47
5-15% 146
0-5% 87
No Data* 76
* Federal privacy rules bar the state from publishing school-level data at schools where few students took the exams.

Is Gubera right to be confident in his assessment? Based on currently available data, it’s difficult to say.

More than 370 Indiana schools would be subject to this requirement, but because of federal privacy laws, the state only published Advanced Placement passage data for 300 of those schools in 2010.

20 of the 300 schools for which good data was available in 2010 meet the new rating system’s 25 percent threshold based on AP passage rates alone. 47 more schools have AP passage rates at 15 percent or higher.

To meet the 25 percent threshold, a student passing any AP, IB, dual credit, or industry certification exam would count. The state hasn’t yet published complete International Baccalaureate, dual credit, or industry certification datasets.

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