Indiana state officials on the State Board of Education are considering revisions to an already-contested “A-F Grading” formula for Indiana schools. These changes would put more importance on students’ passing standardized tests than ever before. Furthermore, the new formula would take away measures of improvement on tests, which many educators favor. These proposed changes come as a result of Indiana’s work to comply with the new federal “Every Student Succeeds Act.” However, it seems that educators themselves (and the state Department of Education) were not included in the creation of this new plan, even those who worked on the original draft state plan for ESSA. In Indiana, the state board of education and the education department are separate entities since 2013, when then-Governor Mike Pence split the two after an ongoing rift between then-state Superintendent Glenda Ritz, who was a Democrat, and Republican leaders. Some suggest this split was a political ploy to take power away from the state DOE.
These proposed changes will be considered this Wednesday, January 9. If they are approved, they will then be posted for public comment. If they are eventually approved, they could result in lower “grades” for public schools in Indiana, and, hence, more pressure put on teachers and administrators who work within them to focus on raising test scores. In Indiana, state standardized testing is already under fire after years of problems with the former “I-STEP” test, including its excessive length and scoring/computer problems with multi-million dollar vendor McGraw-Hill, which is currently being replaced by a new test called “I-LEARN.”