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Indiana Shifts School Grading Responsibilities to Legislature
posted by: Ruthie | October 21, 2013, 06:59 PM   

After a tumultuous introduction to the new school year, Indiana continues to face challenges as many are questioning why A-F school grades have yet to be revealed to the public. Indiana was once leading the charge among states to rank schools via easy-to-understand letter grading.

In a letter obtained by the Associated Press on Friday, the state board questioned the delayed release of A-F grades, important factors in determining not only schools’ achievement but also home values, school funding, teacher pay, and even school management.

“As members of the Board, we send this letter of our concern for ensuring that school accountability information is provided to Indiana schools, educators, and families, in as a timely a manner as possible,” the letter stated. “We are now mid-way through October, and the Department has yet to report  2012-2013 A-F grades or release teacher effectiveness ratings as required under Indiana law.”

While the Department of Education argues that Superintendent Glenda Ritz has been in China, and hasn’t been connected to email, Republican lawmakers are giving school grading jurisdiction to the Legislature’s nonpartisan analysis and bill-drafting arm.

Lou Ann Baker, spokeswoman from Governor Pence’s new Center for Education and Career Innovation, said in an email, “The Department of Education continues to drag their feet, despite public statements, on topics that they are required by law, but that they philosophically oppose.” She continued, "And their refusal to do their job jeopardizes teacher raises, performance grants for schools, and compliance with state and federal law. If they feel rushed, it is only because they have chosen to put themselves in that position by not doing their job."

Politics is plaguing this once promising system as State Superintendent Glenda Ritz is clearly against the initiative to grade schools.

In the new age of accountability in public schools, teachers are also embracing policies that promote transparency and results. According to AAE's National Membership Survey, 89% of teachers surveyed support services such as GreatSchools. These programs and organizations allow stakeholders to search and compare schools in their area via letter grades.

Teachers are, in fact, supportive of policies that easily identify schools based on performance. Although improving schools is a complex issue, our Indiana members agree that we must embrace accountability and transparency in our public schools.

Do you think the politics surrounding this issue will harm the policy?

Comment below.

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