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More Hoosier schools got As from the state in 2017. But most school grades didn’t change.

Angie Kendall, a master teacher at Southport Elementary School, works with a student. The school received an A from the state this year.
Angie Kendall, a master teacher at Southport Elementary School, works with a student. The school received an A from the state this year.
Shaina Cavazos

As with this year’s ISTEP scores, not much changed when it came to 2017 A-F grades for Indiana schools.

Compared to 2016, almost a quarter of schools improved by one or more letter grades in 2017, and about the same number saw grades drop. But more than half of schools ended up with the same grade as last year. This is not surprising, because test passing rates have been stagnant across the state — and tests are still major factors in the state accountability grades.

Find your school’s 2017 ISTEP scores here

The Indiana State Board of Education released 2017 A-F school grades at its meeting today.

“I am encouraged by the results of our current accountability grades as an indication of the great education Indiana students are receiving,” said state Superintendent Jennifer McCormick in a statement. “Our work, however, is not finished.”

The number of A-rated schools increased slightly from last year to almost 30 percent. The number of F-rated schools barely changed at almost 6 percent. Almost two-thirds of schools received an A or B (the same percent as last year), while 15 percent received a D or F, virtually unchanged.

This is the second year that Indiana has used a new accountability system that equally weights test score improvement and passing rates. Adding in the test improvement shows how schools are tackling the tougher tests that are part of more rigorous academic standards that started in 2014.

When you separate proficiency from test score growth, a little more than 2 percent of schools received the highest passing rates for elementary and middle school students, while almost three quarters improved. Even though it remains difficult for schools to get students to high scores, most seem to be getting students to do better than last year. In high schools, even fewer students are at or above proficiency, but most are showing growth as well.

Board member David Freitas said he worries that the test score improvement piece is overshadowing how few schools are meeting a “minimum competency.”

“I’m concerned that the growth data … is masking a real problem in Indiana,” Freitas said. “Only 14 percent of (elementary) schools are in the A and B category. That is very, very serious.”

Poor grades can bring consequences for schools such as state intervention or takeover.

But the state’s A-F model is expected to change. A new plan to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) will bring more factors into state grades, such as English proficiency of students learning English and a non-test-based measure like attendance. It’s not yet clear how that will affect the distribution of grades across the state.

However, the state isn’t ready to adopt the new model just yet. Instead, Indiana will issue schools two sets of metrics for 2018 — one grade from the state and another that will be reported to the federal government.

Read: Indiana has a curious plan to sidestep federal rules — give schools two A-F grades next year.

Indiana 2017 A-F grade breakdown

Grade Number of schools Percent of schools
A 620 29.5 percent
B 688 32.7 percent
C 454 21.6 percent
D 190 9 percent
F 124 5.9 percent
No grade 28 1.3 percent

Marion County 2017 A-F grade breakdown

Grade Number of schools Percent of schools
A 32 17.3 percent
B 35 18.9 percent
C 38 20.5 percent
D 42 22.7 percent
F 37 20 percent
No grade 1 0.5 percent

Find your school’s 2017 grade using our interactive database.

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