Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

State Board Approves New A-F System Rules

Members of the State Board of Education hear public comment at their May meeting. (Photo Credit: Rachel Morello/StateImpact Indiana)

Members of the State Board of Education hear public comment at their May meeting. (Photo Credit: Rachel Morello/StateImpact Indiana)

State education leaders have been crafting a new school accountability system over the past two-and-a-half years, and today, the State Board of Education approved a final framework.

We’ve already reported on many of the changes for the new A-F school grading system, but here are a few more fast facts:

  • The new system gives equal weight to student growth and performance. Previously, grades were primarily calculated on student performance on the statewide standardized ISTEP+ test, with only bonus points awarded for student growth.
  • The performance/growth ratio is 50/50 for Grades 3-8. In high school, the split is 20/20 and the leftover 60 percent is based on factors such as graduation rates, performance on graduation exams, and AP passing rates.
  • Growth is only measured for students attending school 162 days out of the year. It also doesn’t include students in third grade, because they have not been previously tested (the ISTEP+ starts in third grade).
  • The feds require that schools can only receive an “A” if they show performance and growth in student subgroups (i.e. student with special needs, free/reduced price lunch, English language learners, etc.)
  • The new rules will likely result in fewer “A” and “F” schools.

All of these rule elements came to the table following months of discussion and various opportunities to hear public comment on proposed changes.

But, the process may not be over just yet.

A vote to approve final rule language had been on the original agenda for Thursday’s monthly meeting. But Department of Education representatives presented about 20 additional edits Thursday morning – edits that some board members say they hadn’t seen before.

“We’ve had 24 months to work on this, and I’m not comfortable voting on these edits today,” said board member Brad Oliver.

This type of communication snafu has been common between the board, the department and state Superintendent Glenda Ritz – one of the issues recent legislation approved by the General Assembly aims to correct.

Lawyers for the board said legally, any changes that have not been open to public comment could be overturned by the state attorney general. They recommended voting on rule language as it has been presented prior to Thursday’s meeting In the end, that’s exactly what the board did.

The approved rule now goes to the Attorney General for technical approval, the governor for signature, and the state’s Legislative Services Agency to be finalized and published. Any additional changes the IDOE wants to see may also go to the Legislative Services Agency for later consideration.

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