On Thursday, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence reiterated his support for the A-F grading system, but also urged the state Department of Education to complete “a thorough and timely review” of the questions surrounding the letter grades issued for schools last year. He wants the DOE to report its findings at the next State Board of Education meeting on Aug. 7.
“Governor Pence believes in accountability and that students, parents and teachers deserve to know our state has a fair and impartial grading system that accurately describes the performances of our schools,” said Kara Brooks, Pence’s press secretary.
Legislation passed by the General Assembly this year had already mandated the State Board of Education come up with a plan by for a new system for grading schools by November that would go into effect next year.
But critics of the system want more immediate action. On Thursday, the Indiana affiliate of American Federation of Teachers called on the state to “immediately suspend” the A-F school grading system.
“Bennett’s resignation should confirm that Indiana’s flawed, and now manipulated, A-F grading system is evidence enough to call for immediate suspension of this process,” said Rick Muir, president of AFT Indiana and former president of the Anderson Federation of Teachers.
Bennett left Indiana after losing his bid for re-election to Democrat Glenda Ritz last November. On Thursday, Bennett called the AP reports “malicious and unfounded,” and blamed them on his political enemies. Bennett also called for Indiana’s inspector general to investigate his tenure at Indiana’s school chief.
The controversy has focused increased attention to the A to F school grading system that rates every school in Indiana, using student test scores and other metrics.
The grades are critical: Failing schools can be taken over by the state and schools with high grades can get more state funding. They also help determine whether low-income students living in school districts with failing grades are eligible for a private school voucher without having to first attend a public school.