Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Grading Schools When You're Not Sure What a School Is

I'd just like to note that Tony Bennett's Indiana school grading scandal ran into the exact same issues I flagged when this year's RIDE classifications came out: grading schools that don't have a full set of grades and are thus missing scores, and when multi-level schools, particularly ones that encompass primary and secondary grades, are treated as a single school (or not).

I'd argue that there is absolutely never any plausible reason for grading a K-12 school as a single entity. It is idiotic. I don't understand how or why anyone ever came up with that idea. I can't think of an ideological reason for it one way or another; I don't understand how it happened in the first place.

And I don't think schools without a full set of grades should get a formal classification at all. There is an ideological reason for wanting to do so, since otherwise you'd have to wait years to "prove" how successful a new startup school is, but it isn't an apples to apples comparison, and some of those multiple measures are inevitably easier than others to get good scores in.

So I'm almost a little sympathetic to Bennett's concerns, but then there's this:

Two Indianapolis Public Schools might never have been taken over by the state if then-Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett had offered the district the same flexibility he granted a year later to the Christel House Academy charter school.

So no, it is not OK on any planet.

But, if Indiana's system had originally designed with an ounce of sense, Christal House Academy would have had an "A" for K-8, no grade yet for high school and once they inevitably posted their 100% graduation rate in two more years, they'd probably have an "A" or at least a "B" for the high school, and everyone would be happy, including Tony Bennett. Too bad they're a bunch of technocrats with no interest in technical details.

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