Indiana schools chief 'dismayed' in aftermath of grade-changing scandal

Tony Bennett
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Indiana's top educator says she is "dismayed" by the work she has on her plate in the next few months. Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz read to children Monday morning at Decatur Township's Blue Academy. Her "to-do" list includes reforming the state's A to F grading system.

Ritz is busy these days, but she likes to make time to read to children. The former library media specialist reminded the first graders to check out books from the library often and to get along. It's an applicable message for the superintendent herself.

Ritz admits she's "dismayed" these days when it comes to dealing with the aftermath of the Tony Bennett grade-changing scandal.

"Oh, yes, I am dismayed. We not only have to look at the 2011-2012 accountability grades and the calculations. We have to look at 2012-2013," she said.

Ritz says her first problem is making her second more challenging: Ritz tells Eyewitness News Indiana's A to F grading system needs to be replaced. She hopes to have a recommendation by November, which could include two separate grading measurements.

"We need to know the achievement level of our students, the percent of students that achieve, a benchmark. We also need to know the percent of students showing growth," Ritz said.

Ritz's third task is ISTEP testing results. The superintendent says results will be in the hands of teachers and parents by late August after being delayed due to computer problems by CTB/McGraw-Hill.

Eyewitness News has reported statewide scores appear unaffected, but Ritz says certain districts who dealt with longer delays may unfairly show more struggling students. That's the data she has to look at closely.

Ritz also said her department, along with legislators investigating the Tony Bennett grade-changing scandal, hope to examine all the data by Labor Day and have a report out shortly thereafter.

The Associated Press has published emails showing Bennett and his staff changed the school grading formula to raise the score of campaign donor's charter school from a C to an A. School grades are used to determine how much money schools get and whether "failing" schools are taken over by private operators. Bennett denies any wrongdoing, but he resigned as Florida's education commissioner.