Statement, verbatim, as issued Friday by Senate President Pro Tempore David Long, R-Fort Wayne:
STATEHOUSE (September 6, 2013) – Senate President Pro Tempore David Long (R-Fort Wayne) today said he was pleased with the findings of an independent task force commissioned to conduct a month-long review of the recent issues regarding Indiana’s A-F assessment metrics for schools.
The independent report, requested by Long and House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) in August, was released today by John Grew, Executive Director of State Relations and Policy Analysis at Indiana University, and Bill Sheldrake, President and founder of Policy Analytics. Long and Bosma asked these experts to do the following:
• Evaluate the previous A-F assessment tool;
• Determine its validity;
• Ascertain the fairness of previous grades given to schools;
• Determine whether manipulations of the system occurred; and
• Make recommendations to the State Board of Education and/or the General Assembly as to what next steps may be appropriate.
Their findings included:
• IDOE under-estimated administrative and technical challenges associated with developing the new administrative rule, computer programming and testing necessary to implement the new rule, and obtaining feedback relative to 2011-2012 grades;
• Because the administrative rule did not contemplate all of the numerous school configurations in place during 2011-2012, it was necessary for IDOE to make certain interpretations including the decision to eliminate high school scores from the Christel House Academy’s grade. The authors found that this interpretation was consistently applied to 16 other schools which had analogous situations.
• The removal of the elementary and middle school “subject matter growth caps” impacted final scores and grades of 165 schools.
• The adjustments made to Christel House Academy’s grade from a ‘C’ to an ‘A’ was plausible and the treatment afforded to the school was consistently applied to other schools with similar circumstances.
• A significant portion of the educational community did not understand or trust in the accuracy or fairness of the Bennett Rule’s Metrics.
• IDOE’s ability to finalize the accountability system, perform quality control simulations, and to produce final output was clearly compromised by the loss of several key technical staff beginning in summer, 2011 through summer, 2012.
• In part due to the loss of key IDOE technical staff, there was inadequate time to complete final programming and perform quality control work, prior to release of each school’s final grades.
“The findings from today’s report from Bill Sheldrake and John Grew will help immensely as the state begins work on a new A-F grading process. Their work was done independently and will hopefully restore the public’s trust in Indiana’s education assessment system,” Long said.
House Enrolled Act 1427 from the 2013 session required the State Board of Education to revise the A-F metric and to base it on growth and achievement. This revision is to be completed by November 15, 2013.
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