Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Listen: How I Explained Indiana's A-F Ratings To High School Students

    Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

    Kyle Stokes speaking to the AP Statistics class at Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis' Wayne Township last week. Kyle did this at the request of a project-based learning coach and the district's superintendent to give students the "101" on Indiana's A-F grading system.

    A few months ago, Wayne Township Schools superintendent Jeff Butts called me with a request: Help out some students at Ben Davis High School who were going to study Indiana’s system for rating schools.

    My study of Indiana’s system for rating schools basically drove me crazy enough to make this video, so I immediately empathized with the students because of their assignment: get to know the A-F formula, “the Indiana Growth Model,” and possibly come up with recommendations for how to improve it.

    To help them in that task, I spoke to the AP Statistics class at Ben Davis about how the model worked and why state leaders set it up the way they did.

    The talk was a spoken version of resources we’ve already posted to this blog — our hour-long radio special, our A-F ratings topic page and video.

    My job in the lecture would be to orient the students to the system. I told teachers I wouldn’t and couldn’t draw conclusions for the students about the model’s statistical validity, fairness or usefulness — I’d focus on what it is and why it is. That way, students could draw up formal recommendations for education officials on how, if at all, to change the school rating system.

    When I agreed to speak, I didn’t know how timely those recommendations would be: In passing House Enrolled Act 1427, Indiana lawmakers have requested state education officials rewrite the guidelines by November.

    If you’re interested in learning more about how Indiana’s school rating system works, check out my visual aids from the presentation:

    [slideshare id=21466688&doc=growthmodelshare-130519161121-phpapp02]

    I’m putting together a radio story about my visit to Ben Davis, in which you’ll hear more from the students about their thoughts on the A-F ratings. I also told them I would be interested to learn what recommendations, if any, they decide to make. Stay tuned.


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