Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

How Indiana’s A-F School Rating System Could Change

We mentioned last week what former state superintendent Tony Bennett had to say about Indiana’s A-F school accountability system, now that he’s been cleared of charges of unfairly changing the system back when he was schools chief.

A-F accountability panel co-chairman Steve Yager listens as Claire Fiddian-Green and Steve Baker discuss their ideas about measuring student growth.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

A-F accountability panel co-chairman Steve Yager listens as Claire Fiddian-Green and Steve Baker discuss their ideas about measuring student growth.

Bennett called the system “confusing,” and he’s not the only one. Current policymakers think something should be done to correct that.

So, like many other things in Indiana’s education system these days, A-F policies are getting a makeover. A panel of policymakers from the state’s Department of Education and the governor’s Center for Education and Career Innovation is in talks to tweak those policies, to make them clearer for schools and families.

The group released a timeline in June about where the state plans to move with the new system. Emphasizing student growth is a priority, according to Claire Fiddian-Green, special assistant for education innovation to Governor Mike Pence.

“Let’s measure how close a student is to being on target, or whether they’re above target, and if they’re below target, just how below target are they,” Fiddian-Green says.

Fiddian-Green says any changes to the A-F model that include growth will also be reflected in the state’s teacher evaluation system. State law requires schools to use some kind of student growth data – usually state assessment scores – be included in annual teacher rankings. These evaluations must be linked to pay.

And all of this hinges on a new statewide assessmentone that is still in the stage of development. Some experts predict that the first year of a brand-new test may mean much lower scores. New York and Kentucky have already seen scores drop after introducing a new, more rigorous test.

Fiddian-Green says state officials are well aware of this challenge, and the need to address it once new state standards are implemented.

“There’s a lot of thought and great care being given to make sure that all of the changes are as smooth as possible, and that schools and families students are getting the support that they need to help adjust to all of the changes with the standards and assessments moving forward,” Fiddian-Green says.

The revised system will be implemented in the 2014-15 school year. The state board plans to conduct a trial run for the new system based on schools’ 2013-14 performance in order to perfect it.

“Any time you make changes to any large system that impacts so many different entities, you have to test the data using actual Indiana results,” Fiddian-Green says. “[It] allows time for any unforeseen consequences to be identified and some fixes made before it goes into effect.”

The effort to recast the A-F system stems from a state law signed in 2013 – the very same law that prodded state officials to reexamine Indiana’s involvement in the Common Core State Standards.


  • Laura Bailey

    Some reason that the elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction was not included in this discussion? She is in charge of this and the actual expert, certainly more than Bennett, the man who has to cheat to make that system work for him.

  • Brad Ream

    Why is Claire Fiddian-Green being quoted in this piece? I DID NOT VOTE for her to be the spokesperson for public education in this state!!! State Impact, you usually do a good job with education news, but you dropped the ball on this. Green’s qualifications: President of The Mind Trust and Grants Officer for the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation. Prior to her role at the Foundation, Fiddian-Green was employed by Eli Lilly and Company as a Senior Analyst in the company’s Corporate Finance Investment Banking group, where she focused on Licensing and Mergers & Acquisitions. I notice a lack of teaching and educational experience in her resume. #edufraud

  • Miller

    Who is Claire Fiddian-Green and why does it sound like she is our State Superintendent of Public Instruction? I recall the voters of Indiana elected Glenda Ritz! We trust Ritz who is an educator to understand children, teachers and the profession of teaching. Any reports about change should come from Ritz and her department.

  • Justin

    Why are we interviewing Mrs. Fiddian-Green? Get your sources straight to add some credibility to your story. Indiana citizens voted for Glenda Ritz.

  • PuzzlesBro

    As much as I agree that there should have been more in the interview with Glinda Ritz, I think it is still important to understand what CECI is saying. Not because of their credentials, but we have to acknowledge the fact that politically, they are trying to weigh in on these issues.

    Now, whether that should happen or not is a different story…

  • Marilyn Arney

    Question 1 – Why are you interviewing Fiddian-Green regarding the new grading system? – Question 2 – since you did interview her why didn’t you follow up by asking her just how they were going about insuring that teachers, families and students will be prepared for these new standards and tests that will determine who gets to be called a failure this year? – seems like this was more of a press release by Pence and his hatchet lady as just one more effort to undermine the duly elected Superintendent of Education.

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