Governor Pence says he's not ruling out modifying Indiana's school accountability grades to adjust for the transition to new state standards, but says he won't support a complete pause in those grades.
The shift to a tougher exam is expected to reduce the number of passing scores on ISTEP by one-fourth. Pence announced Tuesday he's working with legislators to ensure the predicted drop doesn't jeopardize teachers' evaluations or performance bonuses.
Pence doesn't rule out similar changes for schools' A-to-F grades, but says the teachers have paychecks at stake and need to be addressed first. He says an appropriate modification for schools is likely to be a more time-consuming adjustment and should come later.
Pence says this year’s ISTEP still provides valuable information, despite the transition to a harder test and other glitches in administering and scoring the exam.
“Accountability is very important. Transparency is important. Even if it’s a new test, we anticipated declines,” Pence says. “I think parents have a right to know how their schools and their kids did relative to other schools across the state of Indiana.”
The governor says he's open to taking additional steps to ensure the grades are a fair reflection of schools' performance, but he won't endorse state school superintendent Glenda Ritz's call to put accountability grades on hold for a year.
“Everything we’re doing in education, including accountability, is making a difference. We grade our kids every week; we need to grade our schools every year,” Pence says. “We’re going to be working with members of the General Assembly to make sure that when those grades are assigned, they fairly and accurately reflect the efforts of our students and teachers.”
Pence claims Indiana's insistence on annual grades is partly responsible for performance gains.