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AP Report: Bennett Changed A-F Grading System When It Appeared Indy Charter Would Get A C

Florida Commissioner of Education Tony Bennett.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

Current Florida Commissioner of Education Tony Bennett, who was Indiana's state schools chief from 2009 to 2013.

The Associated Press’ Tom Lobianco has this exclusive report:

When it appeared an Indianapolis charter school run by a prominent Republican donor might receive a poor grade, Bennett’s education team frantically overhauled his signature “A-F” school grading system to improve the school’s marks.

Emails obtained by The Associated Press show Bennett and his staff scrambled last fall to ensure influential donor Christel DeHaan’s school received an “A,” despite poor test scores in algebra that initially earned it a “C.”

“They need to understand that anything less than an A for Christel House compromises all of our accountability work,” Bennett wrote in a Sept. 12 email to then-chief of staff Heather Neal, who is now Gov. Mike Pence’s chief lobbyist…

Bennett, who now is reworking Florida’s grading system as that state’s education commissioner, reviewed the emails Monday morning and denied that DeHaan’s school received special treatment. He said discovering that the charter would receive a low grade raised broader concerns with grades for other “combined” schools – those that included multiple grade levels – across the state.

“There was not a secret about this,” he said. “This wasn’t just to give Christel House an A. It was to make sure the system was right to make sure the system was face valid.”

Read Lobianco’s full story at The Huffington Post, in which the AP reporter tells the story of a “week-long behind the scenes scramble” to change the grading system.

Lawmakers have already thrown out the current A-F model because of other concerns about the grading model’s makeup.

UPDATED, with this tweet from Lobianco:

Comments

  • N Lee

    “This wasn’t just to give Christel House an A” Okay, it was “just” but it was clearly part of the plan, right Bennett? He’s made a farce out of his entire educational reform process. Get him out and let someone run Florida education with the kids in mind, not their own reputation.

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