The Indiana Department of Education released 2019 federal school ratings Friday, while state letter grades remain on hold.
Districts and schools received two letter grades last year: one from the feds and one from the state. Now, after officials submitted a change to the state’s Every Student Succeeds Act or ESSA plan last year, schools are getting federal ratings instead. Schools can be rated from “does not meet” to “exceeds” expectations.
State Department of Education spokesperson Adam Baker says the shift from federal letter grades was in part to help clear up confusion spurred by dueling letter grades schools received last year. But, he says, the federal ratings are also built to highlight progress, instead of grading schools on their ability to perform on a 100-point scale, like the state’s system.
"Looking at the federal side is, 'where are your schools in comparison to those long-term goals?'" he says.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick has said she wants the state to conform to using only the federal system.
The federal system also breaks out data to examine progress among different student groups. Baker says that can help target support efforts and resources from the state.
“Looking at what that data says, and then going back to the drawing board and saying ‘okay does this mean they need more resources, does this mean they need more attention?’” he says.
For special education students, more than 60 percent of schools received the lowest rating, “does not meet” expectations. Just over half of schools either meet or exceed expectations overall.
Schools and districts will ultimately receive 2019 accountability rankings from both the state and federal levels. The state has yet to release letter grades after ILEARN rolled out for the first time last spring. The State Board of Education plans to release those after lawmakers approve legislation to hold schools and teachers harmless from a drop in student achievement.