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State’s ed board OKs new grading

100-point scale to replace current GPA-style system

– The State Board of Education on Wednesday conceptually approved a new A-F grading system for schools that is light on details and has no data analysis behind it.

The group was required by law to adopt revamped accountability categories for school grades by Friday.

The new model uses a 100-point scale to replace the GPA-style current scale. Grade breaks occur at 90, 80, 70, 60 and 50 points.

The more substantive changes, though, involve how test scores and other possible indictors are weighted to calculate the grade.

Further changes will be made to these metrics when Indiana testing data is applied to see how the proposed new model functions. Formal rule-making won’t occur until early next year.

State lawmakers – spurred by widespread criticism – mandated the change earlier this year because the current A-F system focuses too much on comparing students’ scores with those of peers and not enough on student growth.

The new model could go into effect for the 2014-2015 school year.

A number of State Board of Education members expressed concern with the lack of specificity and wanted to make sure they get another crack at changes after statistical validation.

“We don’t have enough here to say we have a model,” State Board member Brad Oliver said. “We have a beginning framework for a model.

“I want to get it right.”

The only board member to vote against the motion was Andrea Neal, who said the deadline the legislature set was unreasonable.

The problem is that Indiana academic standards are currently on hold while the State Board of Education faces a legislative mandate to hold hearings on Common Core standardized curriculum early next year.

So the model doesn’t include what standards or what standardized test will be used.

“It forces us to put the cart before the horse,” Neal said. “Proficiency to what? As of today, we don’t know what academic standards we’ll be using when the categories take effect.”

Next, a panel of educators that came up with the recommendations for a new system will work with technical experts to see how the model works with real data. For instance, no one wants a model in which all schools are given A grades or F grades.

Officials hope that by January, the State Board of Education can make any changes necessary to move the formal rule forward.

nkelly@jg.net

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