The Indiana State Board of Education delayed the release of the Department of Education’s A-to-F School Accountability grades until November 5.
Representatives of public, private and charter schools feel criteria for the grades are unfair and addressed their concerns to the board at their meeting October 15th. According to the DOE’s website, Indiana’s school grading system provides communities with a clear and concise assessment of how their schools are performing. State law requires the state to intervene in a school that receives an “F” for six consecutive years.
Though the grades are not yet official, the Herald Times reported that Bloomington’s Fairview School will likely receive its third “F” this year. Accountability findings are based on eight data points established to measure each school’s final grade.
In previous board meetings, the SBOE established criteria for an appeals process and amidst protests from “atypically configured” schools, or schools that don’t fall within the language of the accountability rule, the SBOE voted to assess atypical schools on a case-by-case basis rather than force a formulaic approach.
Board member Dr. Brad Oliver, Sixth District representative, noted that it was important to focus on what he referred to as “substantive due process” and to apply a common sense approach to grading schools.
“If these letter grades don’t communicate something reasonable based on the data, what good are they anyway?” Oliver says.
Several schools protested DOE findings, claiming final letter grades were based on only two of the eight possible data points gathered, thus judging the school on only a fourth of their population. SBOE board member Sarah O’Brien, Fourth District Representative, wants the grading system to have integrity.
“When we release all of these grades across the state, I want them to mean something. Looking at the data before us, I’m going to make sure I do whatever I can within statute and rule to make sure that the letter grades match what we’re seeing in those buildings,” O’Brien says.