Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick (R) has released for public comment an amendment to Indiana’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan that eliminates A-F school grades. The change would apply only to federal accountability placements. Letter grades are required by state statute and State Board of Education rule for state accountability.

The ESSA amendment proposes classifying schools as either “Exceeds Expectations”, “Meets Expectations”, “Approaches Expectations”, or “Does Not Meet Expectations”.

Indiana once used a similar naming convention for state accountability: “Exemplary Progress”, “Commendable Progress”, “Academic Progress”, “Academic Watch”, and “Academic Probation”. That ended in May 2010 when the State Board of Education voted to grade schools on an A-F scale, arguing that traditional letter grades are more parent-friendly and more transparent in conveying school quality.

The ESSA amendment up for public comment also proposes two new accountability indicators and one elimination.

High schools would no longer be judged on the percentage of graduates earning AP or IB credits, dual credits, or an industry certification. IDOE contends that because these college and career readiness metrics are embedded in the graduation pathways requirements, they are no longer necessary for the accountability system.

A strength of diploma indicator and an indicator for closing the achievement gap would be added to the framework.

The amendment does not need the signature of the Governor.