State finds ‘manipulation’ of school grading formula
By TOM LoBIANCO The Associated Press August 7, 2013 1:33PM
Updated: September 9, 2013 2:47PM
INDIANAPOLIS — State education officials have discovered “manipulation” in the state’s school grading formula as part of an ongoing review following the grade-changing scandal which cost education star Tony Bennett his job as Florida schools chief.
Indiana School Superintendent Glenda Ritz said Wednesday her office’s review has uncovered changes to how schools were categorized, but she declined to explain what she meant by “manipulation.”
Bennett resigned last week, a few days after emails were published by The Associated Press showing his efforts to overhaul Indiana’s school grading formula after a charter school run by Republican donor Christel DeHaan scored a “C.” Bennett has maintained he gave no special treatment to DeHaan’s schools and called last week’s report “malicious and unfounded.”
“Upon our preliminary examination, the department has verified that there was manipulation of calculation categories and the Department has also determined that there are broader issues that need to be examined,” Ritz said Wednesday following a meeting of Indiana’s board of education.
Ritz brought up the topic at the meeting, but Bennett’s allies on the board had little to say. She was scheduled Wednesday afternoon to meet with Indiana’s Republican legislative leaders, who have started their own investigation.
Leaders in the national education overhaul movement, who helped build Bennett into a star following Indiana’s passage of sweeping education changes in 2011, flocked to his support in the wake of the scandal. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush penned an op-ed for the Miami Herald in which he blamed political opponents for Bennett’s demise.
The scandal has also put a new focus on school grading systems, pushed by leaders like Bush as a means of holding schools accountable. The grades are used in part to determine school funding, teacher pay and establish if “failing” schools are turned over to charters for operation.