Senate committee advances bill to change grading system for Indiana schools

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A state Senate committee has advanced a bill that would replace Indiana’s current “grading scale” for school evaluations, doing away with the current A through F grading system, so the Department of Education can form a new system for evaluating schools.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, a Democrat, testified in front of the Republican-controlled Senate in support of Senate Bill 416 on Wednesday, making her case for a new evaluation method.

“The grades are unexplainable,” Ritz said. “There is no apparent explanation for how some schools went from being A schools to F schools and F schools to A schools in a year’s time.”

Nora Elementary school received a grade of F, prompting principal Suzanne Zybert to testify in front of the Senate Education Committee to share her displeasure with the grading system.

“Before considering another year jeopardizing the reputation of our fabulous school, please take time to visit,” said Zybert. “As one recent visitor shared as she was leaving, if Nora is an ‘F,’ then ‘F’ must stand for fabulous.”

“It’s controversial, and hard to explain,” said Ritz, who is hoping to build a new system that would also focus on student growth, during the school year and year-to-year.

“I know I had trouble going to my local schools to explain the grades they were getting,” said Sen. Carlin Yoder, R-Middlebury, one of the bill’s authors.

“I think there’s widespread support for having a new system,” Ritz said. “This bill simply allows a new system to be created and put in place.”

The bill passed the committee unanimously, 11-0, and will now go to the full Senate for a vote in the coming days.

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