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IDOE Proposes ESSA Change To Eliminate Federal Letter Grades

State officials are proposing a change to Indiana’s federal education, or Every Student Succeeds Act plan, to prevent schools from receiving two accountability letter grades again next year.

The state department of education’s ESSA change would get rid of the federal A through F accountability grades, replacing them with four classification groups: exceeding, meeting, approaching, or not meeting expectations.

The department’s Director of School Accountability Maggie Paino says the change would help clear up confusion about how schools are doing in the different accountability arenas.

“When we saw that we were going to continue to have two systems running we said let’s also look at what we want this federal system to do and what purpose it serves,” she says.

Schools received two grades from both Indiana and the feds this year, with some receiving two different ratings. That’s because the state evaluates a slightly different set of indicators to measure school performance and shares those through letter grades. Meanwhile, ESSA lets states choose how they present federal school performance data.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick has pushed for unifying or aligning the systems, but policymakers have been hesitant to align the state’s system with the federal one. Talks on the state board about changing Indiana’s accountability system stalled earlier this year, but could be revived sometime during the 2019 legislative session.

And since the ESSA change would only impact the state’s federal plan, state policymakers can change Indiana’s system later on. Public comment on the proposed change is open until December 21.

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