By Maureen Hayden
The state Department of Education released its controversial A through F letter grades today for more than 2,000 Indiana schools.
Slightly more than 40 percent of schools received an A grade, while about 7 percent of schools were given the F mark. The grades of B and C went to another 42 percent of schools, while the D grade went to just more than 11 percent of schools.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett, who is up for re-election next Tuesday, hailed the new grading system as a more accurate measure of how schools are performing. But he also conceded that the new system has “some complexity” that will make it difficult for parents, students, teachers and others to understand how the grades were reached.
At a meeting of the State Board of Education today, Bennett likened the grades to the safety rating system given to cars. “You understand the rating but not everything that goes into it,” Bennett said.
Release of the grades, which are posted on the DOE’s website, was approved by the board at its meeting today. The state board had approved the new grading system earlier this year, over widespread opposition that included schools, community groups and the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.
Bennett’s opponent in the race for state superintendent, Indianapolis teacher Glenda Ritz, has been sharply critical of the new school grading system, saying its based too heavily on standardized test scores and unfairly labels schools.
Indiana’s K-12 schools have been measured and graded in the past, using a system based in part on how many students passed standardized tests. The new system incorporates a range of metrics. At the elementary and middle school level, progress made by students from year to year on their standardized test scores played a large role in the new grading system. At the high school level, college and career readiness indicators, such as Advanced Placement scores, industry certifications, and standardized test scores factored into the new grades.