The Herald Bulletin

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October 3, 2013

State school board won't change schools' grades

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana's State Board of Education declined Wednesday to change the grades for a handful of schools following a review of changes the former public schools superintendent made last year to the grading formula to benefit a donor's charter school.

The board decided that three high schools should keep the A's they received, while four other schools should keep their F's. Indiana's current schools superintendent, Democrat Glenda Ritz, abstained from Wednesday's votes.

"These school are being penalized because we did not create a model that fits their school," Tony Walker, a Gary lawyer and Democratic member of the school board, said of the three high schools that had their grades lifted from B's to A's because of one change made by former Superintendent Tony Bennett, a Republican.

"That's no fault of theirs, that's a lack of foresight that we didn't know these schools existed out there that we didn't have a model for them," he said. "These schools should at least be given the benefit of the doubt because we did not account for their configuration."

Bennett made a pair of sweeping changes in the formula that carried the Christel House charter school from a C to an A. He removed a limit on bonus points and changed how so-called "combined" schools were scored. Each change affected multiple schools, but Christel House was the only school to benefit from both.

Three high schools saw their grades lifted slightly, but four saw their grades drop from D's to F's after Bennett decided to drop high school grades for certain "combined" schools in Indiana's scoring model. Christel House's high school had poor algebra scores and no graduation numbers because it did not include grades 11 and 12. But in the case of the other four schools, their high school performance was lifting up their grades.

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