Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #180 – July 8, 2014

Dear Friends,

The banned metrics of measuring student growth by comparisons with peers are back again. Despite a law getting rid of them, the State Board will vote on a resolution tomorrow to use them another year.

HEA 1427 was passed by the Indiana General Assembly in 2013 saying that the A-F system in Indiana “may not be based on a measurement of student performance or growth compared with peers.” This culminated a three year effort to fix the flawed A-F system by rejecting the use of bell curve statistics in assessing student growth and by measuring the growth of students against fixed criteria.

Now, a resolution brought by State Board member Brad Oliver is on the July 9th State Board agenda which, among other topics, would use peer comparisons to measure growth again in 2014-15.

It is as if the General Assembly didn’t pass HEA 1427 at all. How can the State Board continue to ignore the law?

I urge you to contact State Board members before their July 9th meeting to say that the “Resolution Regarding ESEA Waiver Compliance” is wrong on growth and should be withdrawn.

Evading the Law

I and others have been campaigning against the unfairness of judging growth through comparisons to statewide peers since 2011. I rejoiced when the Indiana General Assembly passed the following language in 2013 in HEA 1427, Section 5:
“Not later than November 15, 2013, the state board shall establish new categories or designations of school performance under the requirements of this chapter to replace 511 IAC 6.2-6. The new standards of assessing school performance:
(1) must be based on a measurement of individual student academic performance and growth to proficiency; and
(2) may not be based on a measurement of student performance or growth compared with peers.
511 IAC 6.2-6 is void on the effective date of the emergency or final rules adopted under this section.”
I thought the law would actually be implemented, but state board members have resisted. State Board Secretary Dan Elsener has stated many times in meetings his support of the current system that the General Assembly tried to void. Now the Oliver resolution breathes more life into the flawed growth measure using the following language: (this is but a small part of the resolution with many controversial points)

“WHEREAS, Dr. Damian Betebenner, an associate at The National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment in Dover, New Hampshire, who advised Indiana on the creation of the Indiana Growth Model, and who is under contract with the SBOE to advise on modifications to the state’s A-F school accountability system, has found that growth may be calculated utilizing data from the2014-2015 ISTEP+ assessment using an equi-percentile concordance analysis that will be both valid and reliable.
  • Per SBOE regulation, 511 IAC 6.2-6 shall be followed for the A-F School Accountability System for federal and state accountability purposes;
  • Growth in 2014-15 shall be calculated according to the methodology recommended by Dr. Damian Betebenner and approved by the SBOE;”
Dr. Betebenner has described in a report that his recommendation is based on Student Growth Percentiles, the same methodology Dr. Bennett put in the A-F system that the General Assembly tried to void due to the peer comparisons used.

Dr. Betebenner devised the system that the General Assembly rejected. Of course he is going to say that it is just fine.

This resolution shows that the State Board has made no progress in getting Indiana to criterion-referenced comparisons for growth as the General Assembly asked for and as we all should ask for.

Send a Message

I urge you to send a message today to State Board members with a copy to your legislators. The message is that the “Resolution Regarding ESEA Waiver Compliance” has not been vetted and should be withdrawn. It tries to reverse the General Assembly’s action in HEA 1427 to remove peer comparisons from Indiana’s growth model.

The entire proposed resolution with all of its controversies can be seen on this link:


It is astonishing that the State Board is ignoring the call for fair comparisons in Indiana’s growth model. The growth of every student should be measured based on fixed criterion measures, not on Student Growth Percentiles or any other metric where growth can vary based on how peers across the state perform.

Your messages make a big difference. Thanks for participating! Please keep up your steadfast support of fair metrics to judge the performance of public schools!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

ICPE has worked since 2011 to support public education in the Statehouse and oppose the privatization of schools. The new ICPE membership year began July 1, 2014 and extends through June 30, 2015. We need your membership to help pay the bills for ICPE lobbying efforts. It is time for all of our supporters to renew for the new membership year. I urge you to go to our website today to renew your membership. Thank you!

We must raise additional funds for the 2015 session. We need additional members and additional donations. We need your help and the help of your colleagues who support public education! Please pass the word!

Go to www.icpe2011.com for membership and renewal information and for full information on ICPE efforts on behalf of public education. Thanks!

Some readers have asked about my background in Indiana public schools. Thanks for asking! Here is a brief bio:

I am a lifelong Hoosier and began teaching in 1969. I served as a social studies teacher, curriculum developer, state research and evaluation consultant, state social studies consultant, district social studies supervisor, assistant principal, principal, educational association staff member, and adjunct university professor. I worked for Garrett-Keyser-Butler Schools, the Indiana University Social Studies Development Center, the Indiana Department of Education, the Indianapolis Public Schools, IUPUI, and the Indiana Urban Schools Association, from which I retired as Associate Director in 2009. I hold three degrees: B.A. in Ed., Ball State University, 1969; M.S. in Ed., Indiana University, 1972; and Ed.D., Indiana University, 1977, along with a Teacher’s Life License and a Superintendent’s License, 1998.

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