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State to overhaul online report cards

 

State education officials are revamping the report card that districts must publish to make it easier for parents and others to evaluate local schools.

The State Board of Education on Wednesday reviewed the most recent version of the report card, which grades state’s public schools using an A through F accountability scale and provides detailed information about how the scores were determined.

The report cards will be available online later this year and will allow users to hover a cursor over different graphics on the report card to view data that will explain the components of the charts.

The revamped report card is the result of the Indiana Department of Education’s collaboration with a working group of school and community representatives who helped guide the visual appearance of the reports. They will be posted when the state releases the 2011-2012 grades are approved later this year.

Part of the overhaul is the result of a waiver Indiana recently received from the federal No Child Left Behind law. The waiver means the state is no longer required to use the federal Adequate Yearly Progress system to measure school growth and is now free to use its own methods to evaluate a school’s progress.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett told the board Wednesday that collapsing the two models – the national governments and the state’s program – into one accountability system has been the state’s desire from day one.

The new report card designs feature two different forms – one for elementary and middle schools and another for high schools.

The elementary and middle school report cards focus on two main subject areas: English/ language arts and mathematics. The overall grade includes student growth over a year’s time within a number of different student demographics.

The high school report card includes four different areas of interest: English, algebra, the graduation rate, and career readiness.

The English and algebra scores reflect students’ performance on standardized tests. The college and career readiness portion deals with the percent of students receiving college credits or certification while still in high school.

Initially, the high school grade format will not include a measure of students’ growth over the past year, but Bennett says education officials have plans to incorporate those measurements in the future.

“We built flexibility into the model,” Bennett said. “We will continue to look at new ideas and infuse them into the framework.”