Teacher's Union President Wants Moratorium On A-F Grades For 1 Year
Governor's Office: Waiting for recommendation from State Board of Education
Aug. 27, 2014
The head of the state's teacher union wants a one-year moratorium on A-to-F grades for schools.
"We're trying to find a way to offer some flexibility here as we get used to the first year of new standards and whatever changes are going to be with ISTEP, or whatever assessments are coming," said Teresa Meredith, president of the Indiana State Teachers Association. She sent a letter to Governor Pence this week asking for school accountability standards, as measured by the A-to-F grades, to be put on hold for the 2014-15 school year. ISTEP had to be reconfigured this year due to Indiana's new academic standards that were adopted in April by the State Board of Education.
State Superintendent Glenda Ritz recommended a pause in accountability grades two months ago to the State Board. The governor has resisted suggestions to hold off on A-to-F grades in the past, but his office says the board is reviewing whether it is feasible. "As you know, teacher accountability is a matter of state law and SBOE regulation, so the ultimate guidance can't be given until the SBOE has had time to review and consider all the elements and options," read a statement provided by Pence's press secretary, Kara Brooks.
Meredith says there is no way to know the legitimacy of the A-to-F grades since teachers only have a few months to convey the new standards to students before the ISTEP is given. "You're making decisions not only about students passing or failing, about teachers and their performance, about principals and their performance, but you're also making decisions - judgment calls - about whether schools stay open or not," Meredith said, referring to schools who might face state takeover if they receive another grade of F. Even though Ritz has said she will choose intervention methods other than state takeovers, "you still are looking at more state intervention than perhaps a local community is ready for, but more than that, it creates a sense of a black eye for a community," said Meredith.
Last week, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said that states could be flexible in how they used test scores to determine student promotion and teacher evaluation. Meredith wishes the governor would do the same. "If the governor would step back, look at the fact that we have made some changes and this is a year where we are implementing these changes, this year should be a benchmark year rather than a judgment year."