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Indiana Schools Question Benefit Of Education Waiver

The U.S. Department of Education has granted Indiana a waiver from No Child Left Behind testing requirements, meaning the state will implement new standards of its own. Some educators say they are worried those standards will not prompt school progress.

Indiana schools will no longer be assessed using the adequate yearly progress goals set forward by the No Child Left Behind Act. Instead, the Indiana Department of Education will implement its own standards—a letter grading system that will require all Indiana schools to get A’s by 2020.

Speaking on WFIU’s Noon Edition, Phil Harris of the Indiana Coalition for Public Education, said he thinks the waiver gives the state more control over its school accountability system, and that is not necessarily a good thing.

“It’s designed to enable the state to step in sooner, and take over low performing schools,” Harris says. “So the state system I think is more punitive than No Child Left Behind actually, and I think it’s intended to justify the state takeover of a larger number of low-performing schools.”

Dale Chu, Assistant Superintendent of Innovation and Improvement at the Indiana Department of Education, says the letter grades are intended to reflect the growth of a school and to give the state a glimpse of what is happening in classrooms.

“Our hope at the department is that when it comes to these letter grades, that, whether your school’s an A school or an F school or in between, it’s a conversation starter, rather than everything just ends with that,” Chu says.

He says that even though the state is imposing new guidelines, they will continue to value local input from schools.

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