Superintendents Urge Changes in Indiana's School Report Card
Administrators: A-to-F formula unfair, too complex, too strict
Indiana school administrators have aired a litany of complaints about Indiana's new school report cards, and urged legislators to make changes.
A parade of superintendents and other district officials appearing before a legislative study committee charge the new A-to-F grading system is badly flawed. Several administrators charge the formula doesn't go far enough in recognizing improvement, even if schools are still below par.
And Merrillville Superintendent Tony Lux says it's not fair to directly compare students from wealthier districts with districts like his, where 60-percent of students are poor enough to receive free or reduced-price school lunches. He says many of those differences can be bridged by increasing the time students spend in the school environment, but says the state has slashed funding for summer school and other remedial programs.
Superintendents in those more well-heeled districts aren't happy either. Carmel-Clay's Jeff Swenson says a school already near the top of the performance measures finds it all but impossible to improve enough to earn an A. And he says a three-year rolling average used to calculate performance is too complicated, and makes it too hard to offset the effect of one bad year.
IU Professor Jonathan Plucker, who helped create the formula, says the design specifically allows for further tinkering, but says even the current version takes growth and differing populations into account more than its critics acknowledge. And Bluffton High School principal Steve Baker, the head of the Indiana Association of School Principals, says the high school principals he's talked to consider the formula fair, though he says he hasn't talked to elementary principals about it.
And state school superintendent Tony Bennett warns the federal Department of Education has made clear it expects the state to follow through on the new formula. He says abandoning it would lead to imposition of federal accountability rules, which he predicts schools would like even less.
And Bennett says despite fears the formula will classify too many schools as failing, only three schools are in danger of falling into that category in the next two years.