State predicts significant drop in ISTEP scores, school A to F grades

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (June 30, 2015) -- The Department of Education wants to ease up on A to F accountability grades because of a predicted drop in ISTEP scores.

Their prediction came on the same day Indianapolis Public Schools re-launched a chronically failing school.

Arlington High School opened its gates to students and parents for a community night on Tuesday. Staff wore shirts that said "rise again" and welcomed people back to the school that had been taken over by the state and will now return back to IPS control.

"It'll help a lot of these kids around here," grandmother Ida Hamilton said.

Their celebration came amidst pessimism from the state, though. IDOE thinks ISTEP scores will go down by 20 to 30 percent, based on other states that implemented similar test changes to comply with federal standards.

"If we see the drop in scores that we’ve seen in other states then that’s something that can have an effect on not just the school but communities," IDOE spokesperson Daniel Altman said.

Students took a new, more challenging version of ISTEP that meets national college and career ready standards this spring.

"If we do nothing and scores drop in ways that they have in other states, then you’re going to see significant drops in schools’ A to F grades throughout the state," Altman said.

That's why the Department will ask the Board of Education to consider a "hold harmless" approach that would allow schools to keep their grade from last year if they see a drop due to test scores.

The federal Department of Education is allowing states to apply for such lenience after seeing scores drop because of test changes across the country.

For parents, the changes will mean the late release of scores, too. The Department told FOX59 that it didn't expect to release ISTEP scores until late November and A to F grades until December of this year.

As for failing schools like Arlington, they'll continue to get intervention and will not get a break from the state. New Arlington Principal Stan Law said the school hoped to draw in new students and change the culture to turn things around.

"We’re looking to bring a ... college focus here to Arlington and really push our kids toward high achievement," Law said.

For more information about the new Arlington High School, go to the link here.

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