Fate of Indiana school-grading system uncertain

Bennett's fallout raising questions

INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana's A-F grading system designed to hold schools accountable faces an uncertain future as state leaders review it to ensure that marks awarded are fair and impartial.

The Indiana Department of Education is reviewing all grades awarded under an A-F system implemented by former schools chief Tony Bennett. The review followed revelations that Bennett and his staff changed the formula to improve the score of a top Republican donor's charter school.

Bennett resigned Thursday as Florida's education commissioner.

An Indiana teachers union called Thursday for the grading system to be suspended. Many school superintendents say they don't want a system "connected to corruption and manipulation."

Bennett's grading system affected school districts all over the state including Indianapolis Public Schools.

"No adjustments were made for IPS schools, and yet when this one school showed up on a preliminary list that didn't look so good, suddenly we had to make changes?" Indiana State Teachers Association President Teresa Meredith said.

IPS school board member Michael Brown also questioned the system. He said this could be the chance for IPS to regain control of the schools that were taken over because of the flawed grading system.

AFT Indiana issued its call at a Statehouse news conference Thursday, just hours after Bennett resigned as Florida's education commissioner.

Indiana uses A-F grades to determine which schools get taken over by the state and whether students seeking state-funded vouchers to attend private school need to first spend a year in public school. They also help determine how much state funding schools receive.

The grades' validity has been questioned since The Associated Press disclosed emails showing Bennett and his staff worked to raise Christel House Academy from a C to an A.

Superintendent Glenda Ritz has ordered a review of grades. Republican Gov. Mike Pence says he supports the system but that a review is in order.

Follow Derrik Thomas on Twitter: @derrikthomas

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