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The State Has Released 2020 School Letter Grades. They Don’t Mean Much. Here’s Why.

Published on in Education, Government
Schools were closed through much of the spring, which led to canceled standardized testing, something the state department of education says impacted the ability to calculate school letter grades in 2020. (Jeanie Lindsay/IPB News)

The Indiana State Board of Education has released 2020 school accountability grades, but they don’t reflect the most recent data about what’s happening in schools – largely because there isn’t enough or the state can’t use it.

The cancellation of spring testing because of the COVID-19 pandemic means the state didn’t have new ILEARN data to calculate this year’s grades. However, the state did use some college and career readiness data, including graduation rates, to help grade high schools.

There’s another caveat too: this year’s ratings reflect the highest grade a school earned since the 2017-18 school year, because the state is currently operating under a so-called “hold harmless” measure.

Lawmakers passed the measure earlier this year to prevent schools from being penalized for lower student scores on the new ILEARN test in 2019. That means this year’s ratings reflect the highest grade a school earned out of the past three years.

Most school corporations – about 75 percent – are in the A and B categories, with just fewer than two-thirds of individual schools receiving A or B grades.

Contact reporter Jeanie at jlindsa@iu.edu or follow her on Twitter at @jeanjeanielindz.