Proposed School Accountability Rule Raises Concerns from Knox School Officials

Local school administrators are keeping an eye on proposed changes to school accountability standards.

One big concern for Knox Elementary School Principal Glenn Barnes is that the new system would limit how much students’ improvement from year to year could count toward the school’s letter grade. “Now what that would do is, if I have a lot of growth in Math, it’s not going to help me out on the English side in order to get my school’s overall grade a little higher, whereas right now, it lets me do that,” he told the Knox School Board Tuesday. “By federal law, we’re allowed to do that but the State of Indiana’s trying to impose a specific subject cap that would not let us do that, and I don’t think that’s a good thing.”

At the high school level, Principal Dr. Elizabeth Ratliff said students might be required to pass the SAT, in order to graduate in the future. “Nobody at the high school level is talking about how this will work for kids, and that’s the problem,” she told board members. “If they use the SAT, almost 85 percent of the high schools will be F’s because they’re not making the score they’re requiring on the SAT right now.”

During Tuesday’s meeting, Ratliff and Superintendent Dr. William Reichhart criticized the proposal for using what’s essentially a college entrance exam to determine students’ and schools’ success. Reichart argued that standardized tests are not the best way to measure schools’ achievement. “I think if we took a vote with our parents, they would support that. I think our administrators would support that. I think our board would support that,” he said. “But we’ve got people out there led by the chamber of commerce at the state level, not local level. Our local levels of chamber agree with us, but the state chambers have gotten in the ears of the politicians in Indianapolis, and that’s what’s really hurt us.”

Residents will have the chance to weigh in on the Indiana State Board of Education’s proposed accountability rule, during a public hearing tonight in South Bend. It will be held from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. EDT at Ivy Tech Community College. Reichhart encouraged parents and board members to go and voice their opinions.