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State issues delayed A-F school grades

INDIANAPOLIS – The State Board of Education on Friday issued long-awaited accountability grades for Indiana schools.

Statewide about 44 percent of public schools – 805 - received an A. In comparison, 106 schools – or 5.7 percent – received an F.

Some districts – including Fort Wayne Community Schools – have said they won't recognize this year's grades because of massive ISTEP testing interruptions in the spring. They say the testing problems invalidate many ISTEP scores used to calculate a school's ranking.

An independent study was done showing the overall results were valid though individual scores might be affected. That study caused a delay in issuing the grades.

The grades are hotly contested for several other reasons as well.

First, they are calculated using a formula that lawmakers have already ordered be changed because it was too complex and unfairly compared students to their peers instead of looking at growth. A new system will be used for the 2014-15 school year.

Former Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett also was criticized for tweaking the formula to ensure a favored charter school received an A. This year that charter – Christel House in Indianapolis – received an F.

"Though this current model for calculating school accountability grades will be changing, the data does show that some great learning is occurring in our schools, and I want to congratulate our students for their successes," Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz said.

"I am excited that our new model for school accountability will measure both student performance and growth in a way that gives our educators, students, and parents the needed information to address each student's academic needs."

For more on this story, see Saturday's print edition of The Journal Gazette or visit www.journalgazette.net after 3 a.m. Saturday.

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