More Indiana schools score high grades on accountability report

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - A statewide accountability report that measures student performance and improvement on standardized testing and graduation rates shows more Indiana schools scoring an “A.”

The report, released Wednesday by the Indiana Department of Education shows nearly two thirds of Indiana schools scored either an “A” or “B” on the report.  That number is slightly higher than last year’s report.

“Even at that number, we kind of cautiously celebrate in the sense that we want to see more success,” said Department of Education spokesperson Adam Baker. “So what can we do to work with schools to ensure that?”

Across the state, 510 schools improved by at least one letter grade, 477 schools went down at least one letter grade, and 1,060 schools scored the same letter grade as last year.

Some of the improvement in overall scores could be attributed to more emphasis being placed on student growth, or improvement on standardized testing, Baker said. ISTEP scores, released last month, were largely flat from last year. When only factoring in student performance on the ISTEP test in middle and elementary schools, nearly two-thirds of schools received "D" or "F" grades. Factoring in student growth on the test helped to boost statewide scores.

Some have called for the state to release two separate reports, one for performance and one for growth. Baker says changes in the way scores are calculated can make it difficult to maintain an accurate picture of how Indiana’s students are doing.

“The student-centered accountability model went into effect last year, so we’ve got two years of trend data,” Baker said. “But how do we get to the point where we can continue to have that same set of trend data to get a better assessment of our schools.”

Nearly half of Indianapolis Public Schools struggled on the accountability report; 43-percent of IPS schools received an “F” grade. Seven IPS schools improved from “F” to “D.” One highlight for the district was Riverside School 44, which jumped from “F” up to “A.”

The news was mixed in other parts of central Indiana. In Greenfield, half the schools scored a “C,” while the other four got higher grades. In Southern Hancock County, all schools scored a “B” or higher. Across Hamilton County, only three schools scored a “C,” with the rest scoring higher.

More changes could be on the way for the scoring system as the federal government considers changing the way graduation rates are calculated.

Indiana has several different diplomas that students can receive. The General diploma, the Core 40 and the Core 40 Honors diploma. Changes to the grading system could eliminate Indiana’s General diploma from being factored into statewide grades, which would bring Indiana’s statewide graduation rate down.

Baker says those talks are ongoing as state education leaders hope to prevent that change from happening, or quickly adjust to the effect it would have.

“It’s not fair to a school that if you can’t include 40 other percent of the graduation, students are graduating in that rate,” he said.

If you want to see how your child’s school did on the accountability report, you can find it here.