Out with letter grades, in with report cards: Indiana schools have a new measure of quality

Colored pencils are lined up in the shape of a graph with a read line following the top of the pencil tips with white and blue graph paper as the background.

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Gone are the days of a single grade serving as a measure of an Indiana school’s quality. Under a new state law, schools are instead getting what amounts to a report card.

Beginning Oct. 15, each school must post on its website a school performance report from the Indiana Department of Education that shows how its students are doing on academic and other measures.

What’s included will vary by the grade levels the school serves. Elementary schools, which are defined as schools serving K-8 grades, will include:

  • Pass rates for the 3rd grade literacy test, the IREAD
  • Pass rates for the state test, the ILEARN
  • Chronic absenteeism rates
  • Per-student funding. 

High schools’ report cards, meanwhile, will include the following:

  • Average composite SAT score. 
  • Graduation rate and non-waiver graduation rate.
  • Per-student funding.
  • Percentage of students who enrolled in and passed any of the following: an Advanced Placement exam, International Baccalaureate exam, dual credit course, or Cambridge International exam.

Several metrics will also be compared across schools serving the same grade bands. 

The change marks the beginning of the end for the state’s previous evaluation metric — A-F grades. They’ve been effectively suspended since 2018 as Indiana shifted to a new state test and later grappled with the pandemic. 

Technically, the requirement for A-F school grades is still on the books. Yet under the new law, the state will again issue “null” grades for each school for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 school years, as it has since 2018. 

The school performance reports will cover the 2022-23 and 2023-24 school years. For subsequent years, the Indiana education department is charged with coming up with new recommendations for accountability to present to lawmakers by Dec. 1, 2024.

The data for the new report cards will come from the Indiana Graduates Prepared to Succeed (GPS) dashboard, which the state developed this year with the aim of making it easier for parents to access information about their schools. 

Many of the data points required by the new report cards are already available on each school’s GPS profile — with the notable exception of per-student funding.

Schools will receive their reports and instructions to embed them on their websites in the coming weeks, according to an education department memo. 

Aleksandra Appleton covers Indiana education policy and writes about K-12 schools across the state. Contact her at aappleton@chalkbeat.org.

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