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Critics Say Education Incentive Plan Hurts Low Performers

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Photo: Thomas Hawk / Flickr

Proponents say the plan gives good schools rewards for top test scores. Critics say schools without good test scores are disproportionately hurt under the plan.

State Sen. Brandt Hershman’s (R-Buck Creek) plan would give school corporations in which 85 percent of students pass the I-STEP tests $500 per passing student.  The goal is to recognize and reward high-performing schools.  But Sen. John Broden (D-South Bend) says Hershman’s plan puts scarce school funding dollars in the wrong place:

“I think that money is going to come at the expense of school corporations that frankly could use those dollars for remediation, for early childhood education,” Broden says.

Broden says even if the funding doesn’t hurt other schools, he’d rather see performance rewarded differently.

“I would much prefer a plan where we spread these dollars around equally for school corporations that are showing improvement in passage rates,” he says.

State Rep. Randy Truitt (R-West Lafayette) says he believes the problems can be solved partially through careful consideration of what standards yield the financial reward.

“If we set the bar, there’s school corporation that will already be above the bar,” Truitt says.  “But it’s very important to keep in mind that where we set the bar, other school corporations will be able to have something to strive for as they go through this continuous improvement process.”

Hershman says his plan, which he says is meant to encourage under-performing schools to improve, would cost around $17 million.

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