Jasper School Superintendent Weighs in On School Grading

From the Dubois County Free Press:

On Wednesday, the Senate Education Committee unanimously backed Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz on a bill to repeal the current A-F grading scale for schools. The bill going before the Senate will throw out the system and have the state Board of Education develop a new one.

Ritz told the committee that she believed using a single grade for schools wasn’t effective when trying to track both student performance and whether they are improving.

An example of the flawed system is found in the Greater Jasper Consolidated School Corporation, which received an overall grade of an A, despite Fifth Street and Tenth Street Elementary Schools both receiving D’s.

The Middle School and High School both received an A rating. The low scores for the elementary schools prompted school officials to hold a public meeting with concerned parents to explain the drop in the grades.

This scenario wasn’t exclusive to Jasper, though, as over 40 percent of the individual schools in the state reported drops in their overall grades.

Jasper Schools Superintendent Dr. Tracey Lorey stated she supports the move to a different system to grade schools performance, saying “The idea of revising the accountability designation from A to F to three designations along with revising the system so that it uses data in a little different way is good.”

Lorey explained the main problem, “For example, you (the schools) might have more than what the state average of your students passing the language arts test or math test, but if a certain percentage of those students didn’t make the acceptable growth, you were penalized for that.”

Those penalties are what caused the drop in the scores for Fifth and Tenth Street Elementary Schools.

Lorey stated that the practices in the Jasper schools avoid equating all the performances and efforts of students and staffs into one test score. “In my opinion it’s unethical, we would hate to give our kids or staff a grade for an entire course, based on one assessment.”

The school rolled out a new approach to reach their goals for improvement in November of last year. The REACH initiative, which stands for Rigor, Engagement, Achievement, Collaboration and Holistic, is a strategic plan that will help the school target student groups that are succeeding and ones that are falling behind.

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