StateImpact Indiana / YouTube
UPDATED, September 6: Below, we’ve added audio from a companion radio piece we sent statewide this week. More on the developments in the story here.
With the help of our two favorite storytelling mainstays — white board markers and YouTube — we wanted to illustrate the change that increased 165 schools’ final A-F ratings in 2012. The result? This video.the emails the Associated Press published this month suggest Bennett and his staff changed a step in the grading procedure.
School Matters’ Steve Hinnefeld first wrote about this step in the scoring process, which he calls the “subscore ceiling” — a provision in the scoring process that effectively makes it harder for good test scores in one subject area (e.g. English language arts) to pull up a school’s overall grade by canceling out not-as-good scores in another subject area (e.g. math).
Though this guideline isn’t spelled out in the official rules establishing Indiana’s A-F grading system, Bennett’s staff clearly reversed its position on the “subscore ceiling.” Lifting it had an upward effect on the grades of 165 schools — including, as we point out in the video, Christel House Academy.
One thing we don’t point out in the video: The “subscore ceiling” was only part of what bumped Christel House’s grade from its initial C to the A the school finally received. As The New America Foundation’s Anne Hyslop has written, state officials exploited a “loophole” in the rules allowing it to disregard Christel House’s poor scores in its high school grades. This was only enough, though, to give the school a high B.
Lifting the “subscore ceiling” was enough to bump its grade up from a B to an A.
Take a look at this map and search this sortable table of all 165 impacted schools. Read more about the scoring procedure — and how we identified the 165 schools — here.