In response to recent questions regarding Indiana’s A-F accountability system, some local individuals have begun to question whether the the adjustments made to the grading formula may have affected local school scores.
Warsaw Community School Corporation is of particular interest, which received an A grade as a district last year with each subsequent school also receiving an A. It’s a feat some worry may be too good to be true.
Though the school district secured A’s in all schools and as a corporation as a whole, this hasn’t been the case in the past. In 2008 and 2010 (the school corporation was not assessed in 2009), WCS received D grades and was placed on the state’s “academic watch list.” In 2011 WCS received a C grade as a corporation.
According to the IDOE, in 2010-2011 the school district had three elementary schools receive a D grade, four schools receive a C grade, one school receive a B grade and three schools receive an A. Schools that received a D grade in 2010-2011 were Edgewood Middle, Jefferson Elementary and Lakeview Middle. Schools that received a C grade were Harrison Elementary, Leesburg Elementary, Madison Elementary and Warsaw Community High School.
Claypool Elementary received a B and Eisenhower, Washington and Lincoln elementary schools all received A’s. In 2012, the school district saw a massive turn for the better in its scoring, receiving all A’s in every school and as a corporation as a whole.
Warsaw Community School Corporation Superintendent Dr. Craig Hintz had no comment at this time on the scoring questions. However, in the school corporation’s report card (view here), the IDOE states WCS had had 83.2 percent of elementary students pass mathematics and 84.8 percent of high school students pass mathematics.
In addition, the IDOE reports 84 percent of elementary students and 86.3 percent of high school students passed English/literature. The school corporation demonstrated an increase in pass rates with a 4.7 percent math pass rate increase and 9.9 English/literature pass rate increase for students between the 8th grade ISTEP+ and the 10th grade. High school students performed above the state average in both algebra and English pulling a 84.8 percent in algebra and an 86.3 percent in English.
Though questions have surfaced as to how the school system made a two letter grade improvement in one year, it may be some time before the IDOE is prepared to release its findings. In light of the recent discovery of the doctoring of grades by former State Superintendent Tony Bennet, current Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz issued the following statement on what happened with the A-F accountability grades in 2011-2012:
“As Superintendent, I am committed to a strong accountability system that is fair and transparent. As I indicated at my February testimony before the Senate Education Committee, my office has had concerns about inconsistencies with Indiana’s A-F system that were reported by schools through appeals and communications to the Department of Education. In light of recent developments, the Department began a probe into the A-F data system. Upon our preliminary examination, the Department has verified that there was manipulation of calculation categories and the Department has also determined that there are broader issues that need to be examined.”
“At this time, it is premature to discuss any findings in light of the external review of the A-F accountability system ordered by Senator Long and Speaker Bosma and in consideration of other potential investigations, including the Indiana Inspector General, mentioned in press reports. This afternoon, I will be meeting with Senator Long and Speaker Bosma to discuss the Department’s side-by-side analysis of the data calculations for the A-F for the 2011-2012 school year.”
With many outraged over the adjustments made by Bennet, the IDOE has discussed that it will be taking steps to ensure future accountability grading is both transparent and credible.
“During the most recent legislative session, the General Assembly gave direction through HEA 1427 to develop a new A-F accountability system for 2013-2014,” stated Ritz. “We have been charged with developing a fair, transparent and credible system to placed schools in categories for school improvement, utilizing academic achievement and individual student growth data. In order to build confidence in a new system, the process will need to involve experts, key constituencies, members of the Department of Education, members of the Board, and, of course, members of the Legislature.