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Three private voucher schools are already asking for relief from bad grades under a measure that became law six days ago

The Indiana State Board of Education approved the voucher waiver requests at its June meeting.
The Indiana State Board of Education approved the voucher waiver requests at its June meeting.
Shaina Cavazos

Six days after Gov. Eric Holcomb signed the bill into law, three private schools are already asking for new flexibility to appeal low state letter grades so they can receive new voucher dollars.

Central Christian Academy, Turning Point School and Lutheran South Unity School are asking the Indiana State Board of Education to waive consequences of consecutive years of D or F grades. That means if they can successfully demonstrate to the board that their students were making academic progress, they could start accepting new vouchers students again this fall.

Before lawmakers passed House Bill 1384 last month, those schools with three consecutive years of Ds or Fs would have been barred from accepting new voucher students until their grades were a “C” or better for two years.

Read: A new test, $22 million for preschool and 5 other major education bills that lawmakers approved in 2017

To receive state voucher money, Indiana private schools must agree to give the state test each year, an aspect of Indiana’s voucher program that is controversial among school choice advocates.

The three schools made big rebounds in 2016:

Part of that is because of how the state altered its letter grade system for the 2015-16 school year. Unlike before, schools can now get credit for how well students did on the ISTEP test and for how much they improved from the year before.

If students are scoring poorly, but still making big gains, that deserves recognition, state officials said at the time. Indeed, the three schools showed high marks for test score growth in 2016, according to state test data.

Based on memos posted this week, state board staff members are recommending the board approve all three requests. The board is set to vote on the waivers at its next meeting Wednesday in Evansville.

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