IN school letter grades delayed

Aug 8, 2013

Indiana education officials will not issue letter grade ratings for schools this year until they complete a probe of how last year’s grades were calculated.  State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz says the investigation of her predecessor’s administration could cause “great delays” in the release of the A-through-F ratings.

Department of Education officials have opened an internal inquiry into how former state superintendent Tony Bennett tweaked the state’s school grading formula, boosting a favorite Indianapolis charter school’s grade from a C to an A. 

Ritz says she can say definitively the grade for Christel House Academy was — in her words — “manipulated.”  Other than that, Ritz says it’s premature to discuss what her probe will find.  But she says it’s important for state officials to understand whether Bennett’s staff broke the rules so they can calculate this year’s grades correctly.

“What was supposed to be in place for calculations and how is it supposed to look so we do 2012-13 in accordance with rule?”

Bennett has defended his changes, saying Christel House Academy was the victim of a quirk in the ratng system.  Indiana’s House Speaker and Senate President Pro Temp have launched their own investigations — which they want completed by a Labor Day deadline. 

Senator Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville) says it’s important for state lawmakers to make sure the system works.

“The question with the Bennett emails is whether the system was or was not compromised, and we’re still trying to learn what that represents.”

Ritz says she hopes the Department’s inquiry will wrap up by the same September 2 deadline.

Kyle Stokes reports for StateImpact Indiana.